THE BLOG

Dieting to Be Elected

04/13/2015 06:19 pm ET | Updated Jun 13, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Male political candidates running for office are under discernible pressure to display svelteness. David Cameron has admitted to losing 13 pounds (unaccustomed as they are to a lifetime of dieting, men zero in on specific numbers -- women round off in fives). George Osborne, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, has rid himself too of flab; will he crumple inside when someone remarks that they haven't noticed? As in the tragic case of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie whose gastric band has relinquished yet more poundage but not an ounce of criticism that he still lacks presidential gravitas.

Mr. Osborne openly admits that he follows the 5:2 diet as espoused by Jennifer Aniston (you eat anything you want for five days of the week while you starve the following two -- appealing no doubt to those who yo-yo not only in weight but with an either-all-or-nothing discipline). Cameron willingly concedes to eschewing carbs, cookies and nuts, Francois Hollande promised the nation he would lose weight, and did, a whopping 33 pounds (30 to women), Jeb Bush follows the Paleo diet (what is that and who cares?). Is this a way to appear honest? To make a promise and fulfill it in a way that party-based facts and figures cannot for fear of media and electoral retribution?

These men's open and discussible revelations are the closest they'll come to transparency with a smile. Losing weight brands them with success and lets them inject a sunny freshness of novelty into their message. Dieting to women has been a way of life for history's duration so why talk about something that is as interesting as brushing teeth every day? Like inhabitants fast-filling megalopolis cities in Asia who have yet to suffer from modern-day repercussions of stress and depression, these men are at their happy stage -- filled with euphoric pride and a lighter step as their suits slip on with ease and they re-discover their jawlines. But, as some of us know, the looming afterbirth low is how sorry they'll feel for themselves when they seek re-election next time, sporting their "fat" trousers. Politics and dieting may correlate after all, when short-term gain leads to unsustainable long-term growth.

Vanessa Friedman in the International New York Times wonders why is it open game to discuss the portliness of men candidates when it is absent among the reporting of their female counterparts? Could this at last be role reversal, a turnaround in the women-are-old-men-are-handsome-after-50 war of the sexes and their physical attributes? Hillary Clinton is curvaceous and, like most women, bounces around the scales, and yet, interestingly, her critics swoop in on efforts to dispel her legitimacy by means of her professional record. Trigger words such as Benghazi, Emails, Clinton Foundation and Donors fill the airwaves and media columns, with not one reference to body weight distribution, or, hallelujah, indications of age on her appealingly attractive 67-year old face.

Granted, commentaries on Hillary's hair styles could fill a psychological profile denoting insight and intelligence, whereas Cameron's side parting just looks apologetically resigned, a definite no-no for future prospects. And George Osborne could take over the leadership based on his newish, street-cred, maybe Roman haircut but elements of price and how much, would reveal the nuance of privilege that dieting avoids. Losing weight is abstemious, penance-producing and, inexpensive if one stops eating altogether, while gaining weight is an everyman/woman affliction. The "Nudge" consultants inside political campaigns must be high-fiving their way to their next six month-long contract.

This new-found personal male honesty should be welcomed, even if it comes with a dollop of same-old ennui. It's quite girlie now that women have moved on, so long as journalists don't cross the finer line of decorum and ask men how they got fat again, particularly when the latter spoon-feed their frustration out of a tub of ice cream while woefully chiding themselves for not knowing how it happened.