Good Art From Bad Diet Books

Lynne Murray says:

I first heard of feminist artist Brenda Oelbaum’s Venus of Willendorf sculptures made from diet books through the fat activist mailing list. She explains in more detail about the work on her blog.

This is a Venus from 2009.  The present project sculptures are much smaller but this image was irresistible. Lots more images in slide show here.

Essentially Oelbaum and her assistants take apart old diet books and use the pages to create paper-mache models of the Venus of Willendorf. Each Venus will be constructed from the pages of a given diet guru, so there will be the Atkins Venus, the Richard Simmons Venus, the Weight Watchers Venus, etc.

I love that the Scarsdale Diet Venus will include a small toy gun in honor of Scarsdale Diet founder Herman Tarnower murder by his lover Jean Harris

The weight loss myth still flourishes and diet books still rake in the cash, despite the scientifically documented negative effects (and lack of positive effects) of ANY METHOD of dieting. The failure rate has also proved stunningly consistent. To quote the admirable blog Junk Food Science by debunker Sandy Szwarc, BSN, RN, CCP.

The undeniable fact is that in nearly a century, despite billions of dollars behind them, no diet or weight loss measure has been demonstrated to work: to result in sustained weight loss or significant health improvements in people.

What I find intriguing about Oelbaum’s use of diet books as a physical medium for her art is how her process of creating Venus figure mirrors the effect that dieting has had on many of us. By starving our bodies we teach them to more easily gain and retain weight.

Diet books and years of dieting have helped many of us to add extra pounds during the inevitable regain phase that follow all dieting. So in real life, diet books aid in creating flesh and blood Willendorf Venus style figures that might have been somewhat less abundant without that boost from the diet/regain process.