Juice cleanses: Not healthy, not virtuous, just expensive.

Katy Waldman examines  the juice-cleanse craze and sees an obsession with control, religious asceticism, and status that makes the fad look a lot like anorexia. Taking the craze to task for its focus on ridding the body of vague "toxin," and the holier-than-thou tendency of adherents to trumpet its equally vague benefits, Waldman argues that juice fasting is more about conspicuous anti-consumption than health.

As she puts it, "juice cleanses accomplish exactly none of their physiological or medical objectives; they fetishize a weird, obsessive relationship with food, and they are part of a social shift that reduces health (mental, physical, and, sure, spiritual) to a sign of status."

The idea of conspicuous anti-consumption--if I may coin the phrase--is interesting to me given the way it intersects with my short story (and novel-in-progress) When my Girlfriend Lost the Weight.

It's curious how trends like this depend on the conversion of abundance and scarcity that seems to define the contemporary world. At the same time we fret about notions of peak oil and dwindling resources, we live at a time when those with enough wealth have access to just about anything conceivable--like unpasteurized designer juice. The combination creates an odd space occupied by trends like voluntary simplicity, fasts, and juice cleanses. Whereas once keeping up with the Jones's meant acquiring more and more, now it seems that refining, filtering, and going narrower and narrower may be the name of the game.

As Waldman says, "Want to really show your neighbors who’s No. 1? Pull the BMW into the garage and leave your juice in the driveway."

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