After one of my kids was diagnosed with a health condition last year, our doctor recommended that our whole family radically change what (we believed) was our otherwise healthy diet and embrace a way of eating that has popularly become known as the Paleo diet. “Paleo” is a term used to reference what many say were the eating habits of Paleolithic-era humans (more on that in a moment). This approach to food emphasizes the consumption of lean meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts (all things that one would hunt and/or gather, so the story goes) at the same time that it eschews grains, dairy, legumes, and all refined, processed, or artificial foods.
A little internet reading could easily convince the novitiate that there is a Paleo god looking to strike dead those who stray from its parameters, for there are a myriad of Paleo folks out there who argue vehemently about what constitutes the “truest” Paleo lifestyle. Despite their differences, the philosophical tie that unites most Paleo adherents is the sense that “eating like a caveman” is the most “natural” and “authentic” approach to food possible, one closest to how our bodies are “designed” to be fed. Good health is often promised as the result of firm adherence to the philosophy, and this is the rationale Paleophiles have long provided for why so many people experience a multitude of positive health benefits when they follow it. Continue reading “Caveman Grub: The Identity Politics of Paleo”
Photo credit: www.julep.com
“Your Turn” is a new, ongoing feature at Culture on the Edge, in which we just plant the seed by picking a ripe e.g. and then soliciting and responding to your analysis.
When I was twelve, I remember spending my birthday money on a “how-to” book on makeup application. I became particularly adept at “polka dot party makeup” (or a technique called something similar to that) wherein I dotted my eyes with black eyeliner in a way that I now realize probably resembled malignant freckles.
Despite my tender age, I remember recognizing at the time that there was some irony in the fact that the book featured a “natural look” section designed to help the makeup novitiate achieve a flawless “natural” state through the help of cosmetics. In the case of the photo above, this particular “natural look” is achieved through the purchase of the cosmetics sold through the website, and the photo supports an article on the same topic. Another related article tells the reader how to achieve a “no-makeup” look with — yes — makeup.
Many might (rightfully) comment that for those of us interested in the strategies of identity, this is nothing other than a misogynist attempt to reinforce beauty standards that not only consistently denigrate women but that also seriously limits them by locating their value in their looks. While all of this is true, there are other interesting identity markers at play in these articles that make them appealing reading.
What do you see here? How is a “natural” identity constructed?
It’s your turn.