On the geographical catwalk of life, America isn’t the trimmest supermodel in the game. In fact, America is more of a plus-size model. Allow me to personify: if America were a supermodel, she’d be the Mia Tyler
or Kaela Humphries of super model countries. Big and beautiful, if you will.
Standing next to England’s human (?) supermodel embodiment, Kate Moss,
or Russia’s vampy (but cherubic), human supermodel equivalent, Natalia Vodianova,
America tends to look rather portly by international human weight standards. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just isn’t necessarily a great thing, either.
In his book, “Fast Food Nation-the Dark Side of the All-American meal,” Eric Schlosser explored the idea that America’s gradual, collective weight gain can be traced back to its historical transition from a land of independent restaurants to a land sprinkled with fast food establishments.
Instead of sitting down for a proper meal, people can now bark their orders into a giant, electronic machine and wait mere minutes for their overly processed, artificial food to appear. And God Bless America, right? But at what cost?
Living large (and in charge) is simply America’s way. Historically, Americans like to go big: big cars, big homes and big bones. Aptly termed, Americans exist in a “Fast Food Nation,” a rather ingenuous phrase celebrating the historiography of America’s obsession with fast, excessive consumption. In this regard, fast food equates fattening food.
Further exploring America’s obsession with fast food: filmmaker Morgan Spurlock took things to a much more heightened body fat percentage level with his documentary, “Super Size Me.” Dining exclusively on McDonald’s for an entire month, super-sizing every single meal as offered, Morgan gained over 20 McPounds. To be exact:
“As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 24½ lbs. (11.1 kg), a 13% body mass increase, a cholesterol level of 230, and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction and fat accumulation in his liver.”
Keeping things 100, Morgan Spurlock isn’t the only American who gained just over 20 pounds due to excessive fast food consumption over a short period of time. And no, I’m not referring to Jessica Simpson or Christina Aguilera – I’m referring to me, myself and I. Don’t forget that yours truly lives in a “Fast Food Nation”, too!
Like most sane people, I have never been able to resist the heavenly flavor and allure of the baby cheeseburgers at McDonald’s! Also, I’m fully aware that they’re not really “baby” cheeseburgers, but they are just so darn cute and delicious that I can’t help but infantilize them.
Speaking of infants and America’s youth population, even she of the fit fleshy guns and shoulders to die for, First Lady Michelle Obama,
has recognized that America has a weight problem, starting with the dietary habits of American children. To solve the increasingly alarming crisis of early onset diabetes and childhood obesity, our gorgeous First Lady has instituted a campaign to drastically change the meal offerings of cafeterias in America’s public schools.
Snap for the kids. However, as we all know, “deep-fried” and “cheese-coated” and “salt” are the foundational building blocks of fast food. Remove any of those delicious but ultimately poisonous virtues, and fast food might lose its very identity.
Now I’m sure some of you were expecting me to continue to bash fast food in this piece. If you’ve been following my linear logic of the facts presented above, it would seem like I was going to end things by saying: “So fast food is so bad for you! It’s so fattening! It clogs your arteries and adds to both your cutaneous and subcutaneous fat levels. And I gained 20 pounds eating fast food, so you should stay away from it!”
But I’ve never been one to succumb to other people’s expectations; and like I said, I like to keep it 100. While I’m still actively trying to shed those 20 pounds, I can’t help but gush over my unbridled love and dedication to my beloved Fast Food. So in the spirit of one hundredness and perfect authenticity, allow me to list out my five favorite guiltiest pleasures of the Fast Food Nation realm that almost made every single pound worth it. Almost.
1. McDonald’s Baby Cheeseburger:
My love for the McDonald’s baby cheeseburgers is practically poetic:
Oh McDonalds’! How I love thee. Let me count the ways: I love thy little, baby cheeseburgers to the depth, breadth and height that my stomach can reach, even at the expense of looking good at the beach!
2. In-n-Out Cheeseburgers are to die for. Literally – don’t eat too many because too much red meat isn’t good for you, but oh my gosh, the cheese, the special sauce (which really isn’t that special or original, being of the delicious but commonly used Thousand Island dressing-variety), the buns, etc. It’s just an amazing combination of fresh flavor. I can’t imagine life without In-N-Out.
3. The Little Black Dress of the fast food world – the McDonald’s McChicken Sandwich – changed my life. Smothered in mayonnaise and crispy, vaguely chickeny, crunchy deliciousness… it’s so very necessary. In fact, I will confidently say that the McChicken is the O.G. better version than that tired old Chic-Fil-A sandwich, and you don’t have to compromise your ethics and embrace homophobia to enjoy one! Also, at $.99, it’s a real steal of a chicken deal, so feast away. Just remember that too much sodium makes you bloaty, and Chic-Fil-A is tired and way too politically offensive for a slab of some chicken that McDonald’s has been doing better for so many years anyway.
4. On that spicy tip, I dedicate my love for the following fast food item to all of my East Coasters and Midwesterners, who have truly learned, loved and live the Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich (more so than we West Coast natives, where Wendy’s aren’t as populous as they are on the East and Midwest). Who doesn’t love spice and chicken and a perfect size that hits the spot just right? It’s breadier than the McChicken, which is great when you’re in the mood for more crispiness – that’s the magic of Wendy’s Spicy Chicken sandwich. In fact, HelloGiggles co-founder Molly McAleer happens to adore this sandwich more than any other (and she knows a thing or two about having good taste).
5. My final fast food guilty pleasure is the Toyota of fast food options-it does the job just right-consistently. While there are no certainties in life, one can always be assured of the reliably delicious nature of McDonald’s french fries. From crispy to oiliciously soggy, McDonald’s fries get to the right like J.Lo 2006. In fact, McDonald’s french fries are beyond iconic, thanks to their ubiquity and amazing ability to always stay fresh… even when they aren’t.
In conclusion, do not let this piece serve as a cautionary tale. I don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed about loving fast food (mostly); I am owning the fact that I gained 20 pounds consuming this horribly unhealthy, but extremely delicious, artificially processed food (excluding In-N-Out and other non-artificially processed fast food).
While I exercise and try to eat right, I sometimes succumb to my fast food addiction on a weekly basis, but it would be a crime for me not to acknowledge just how amazing and scrumptious fast food really is. However, let it be known that fast food is not the gateway to health and fitness, and is just the opposite, really. As with anything in life, you can eat fast food if you do so in moderation, coupled with exercise and mostly healthy eating when you’re not woofing down a McChicken sandwich with a super sized order of french fries.
Life is all about choices, and sometimes you choose to say “Super Size Me, Please!”
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance) McDonald’s, Evan Agostini/Getty Images, Melanie Acevedo, Herb Ritts, Avant-garde fashion photography, Roadside Attractions, Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images, McDonald’s, In-N-Out, Wendy’s, and McDonald’s.