January 06, 2008

What's One Extra Toe?

[Posted by Crabby]

This little piggy went to market...

What would you do to lose weight?

I'm not too sure what to make of this survey of 1,000 women conducted for Fitness Magazine but it was at least pretty amusing.

  • Eighty-five percent of the women said they'd be willing to have an extra toe to keep pounds off;
  • Twenty three percent would shave their heads;
  • Almost half would rather lose 20 pounds than live to be a hundred; and
  • Nearly a quarter would go to jail for a week to reach their ideal weight.
But wait, there's more!

The results were almost as weird two years ago:

Since the article mentioned above was a bit skimpy, I went to the magazine's website to try to track down some details. Alas, the current survey wasn't there when I checked (they might actually want me to buy the magazine to find out more). But there was a similar survey from two years ago (men too, this time) with some additional data:

  • Over half of those surveyed would rather lose their jobs than gain seventy five pounds;
  • Seventeen percent of men and eleven percent of women would give up 20 IQ points to achieve a perfect body.
  • More than a quarter of women said that they would rather get their wisdom teeth pulled than go swimsuit shopping.
  • Sixty-three percent of women would rather be poor and have no weight to lose than be rich but significantly overweight.

What's with you people?

I think we're supposed to be appalled and depressed by what this says about body image, but I wasn't. It's not all that shocking that lots of people would do some really weird-ass stuff to never have to worry about being overweight again. (And while I don't have a bunch of weight to lose, all I had to do to relate, as a middle-aged woman, was substitute "looking way younger" for "losing lots of weight.")

It's funny, because even some of us who frequently rail against oppressive cultural norms are still affected by them. Hell, I hate that women are stigmatized for getting older--yet I'd happily go to jail for a week if it would magically make me look thirty again.

So it wasn't the superficiality that made the survey results seem odd. Here's what was scary: who are these people who would rather lose 20 IQ points, or give up any chance to live a long life in order to lose weight, but who wouldn't be willing to go to jail for a week or shave their heads? C'mon--hair grows back! And even totally messed-up malfunctioning celebrities can handle a week in jail. But you would be willing to give up 20 IQ points? How many could you be starting off with?

Now the extra toe thing...

That's a tough one.

It's distracting, isn't it? So many questions: could you have it amputated or would that be cheating and make the pounds reappear? Would you be able to fit into normal shoes or would you have to buy a bunch of specially-made orthopedic ones to fit all those digits? One extra toe on each foot or just on one?

So how about you?

Are there any bizarre things you might do to magically be given a "perfect" body (or face) for the rest of your life? (Note: it will stay perfect looking too, no matter how much you eat or how badly you behave). Would you do any of these?

  • Drink a full glass of Pepto Bismol every morning forever;
  • Refrain from ever getting on the internet again;
  • Run naked through your local grocery store (just once but you have to pass through every aisle);
  • Go to jail for 3 months (one week seems too easy);
  • Never watch TV again (no cheating and watching on the internet);
  • Give up your favorite beverage;
  • Take in your least favorite relative or neighbor and let them live with you for a year;
  • Let your spouse sleep with the celebrity of his/her choice (because as long as we're dealing with magical solutions, we're stipulating that the celebrity is totally up for it).
  • Eat a dead rat (just one, guaranteed disease-free rat, not one every day. And you can cook it).

Deal or No Deal?

Or here's a different, happier way to look at it.

Which would you rather have magically given to you: A perfect face and body, or ten million (U.S) dollars?

But Maybe You Guys Are Too Evolved

For those of you who too emotionally mature and satisfied with who you are to strike any sort of deal, perhaps you have some thoughts about how messed up this all is.

(Some of the rest of us might be wondering how bad rat meat actually tastes).


  1. ok, my brother was born with six toes on each foot - two big toes on each.

    He did get them amputated because an extra toe makes finding shoes that fit very difficult, let alone imagine the teasing you would get as a child.

    Just figured I'd put that out there. {grin}

  2. I don't "read" the study as, "I would do 'this' if I could lose weight." I read it as, "I would do 'this' rather than give up my addiction to food." When I look at what people do give up in their quality of life, for this addiction, it makes me sad :-(
    Dr. J

  3. Hi Marijke! No offense to six-toed people intended, by the way. (And that does answer my shoe question).

    So Dr. J, I'm afraid I have to confesss I'm one who'd shave my head (once) if it meant I could indulge in my cupcake addiction forever. But yeah, that's an interesting way to look at it.

  4. I love this post! even though it's pretty sad.

    First of all, getting my wisdom teeth out was great. Really, I had a fantastic dentist, good anesthetic, all-around not a bad experience. So I'd go through that again no questions.

    And I would totally give up my favorite beverage, (being crystal lite), and have no problems giving up tv. But the extra toe? No way.

  5. "have an extra toe"

    Ask Anne Boleyn.

    "give up 20 IQ points to achieve a perfect body."

    Oh, dear Dog.

    My head is in full shake over all this. Interesting post, Crabby.

  6. Wow, Wow and WOW! I think it is amazing that we always look at these trade offs as being options. The real truth here is that if we hit our "target" weight or obtained our "perfect" body, within a matter of days or weeks (heck, maybe minutes!) what seemed perfect would seem imperfect and in need of more tweaking. For some odd reason we can never be satisfied with ourselves, it seems to be in our nature.

    I have been seeing lots of ads for Alli. If you want to see what real-life tradeoffs people are willing to make to experience weight loss, just take a look at that side effect list again. ICK!

  7. The run naked through every aisle of the grocery store - would that be before or after the attainment of perfection? 'Cause the Bag Lady can barely stand to be naked long enough to run to the shower, the way she looks now!!
    Eat a rat?
    I'd rather be fat!

  8. Hmmmm...anyone who would give up 20 IQ points to have a perfect body probably don't have that many to spare. :-)

  9. My response was pretty much "No" to all of that stuff...And I'd rather have the money than the perfect face/body (even though the wrinkles I'm seeing these days are making me kinda depressed).

    So maybe this is why I'm not getting anywhere with this whole weight loss thing...Maybe I don't want it badly enough. :)

  10. If we were living in a nonsensical world... :)

    For what it's worth, I'd prefer shaving my head as well (besides, i've already considering it, out of sheer curiosity, and bah, hair grow back, indeed). And eating a dead rat? Well, if it's guarantee disease-free and I can cook and season it, why not? We eat beef and pork and most people don't find this disgusting, after all.

    On the other hand, I would NOT choose anything health-altering. No extra toe or something. Simply because having to choose between this-or-75 pounds is... well... I wouldn't want the 75 pounds for health reasons, so it wouldn't make sense to wish another ailment instead of them either.

  11. Great comments! And, yeah, I'd so take the 10 million.

    That's a good point about Alli, Holly--or gastric bypass surgery, for that matter. I'd rather spend a week in jail than do either of those.

    And Kery, hmm, food for thought. If it was flipped around and I had to choose between an extra toe and GAINING 75 pounds... For health as well as vanity, I think I actually might start pricing special-order shoes.

  12. This puts things into context...
    I can either eat a dead rat or eat lots of vegetables... hmmmn...

  13. I'd give up my favorite beverage -- in fact, I pretty much already have (Diet Coke). I miss it.

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  15. sigh - typos, here's a repost.

    Ok, yeah here comes the shame - you guys are all so good to yourselves!

    I would drink pepto every morning.
    I would run naked through the grocery store.
    I would stop watching tv.
    I would give up diet coke (my favourite beverage)
    I would let my boyfriend sleep with Jessica Alba.
    And yes, I would eat the dead rat.

    The only things I would NOT do is give up the internet, mostly because it would interfere with my career, and go to jail for 3 months, mostly because I watched way too much OZ and jail scares me a lot.

    Oh and I WOULDN'T take the 10 million dollars.

    Yup. I'm a crazy person.

  16. Nobody do the pepto thing, it can make your poop turn black. And of course it is really not good for you.

  17. The only thing that surprised me even a little bit about those stats was that more men than women would be willing to give up those IQ points. The older I get, the more I realize that men are the real "women" in this world. Who's more vain? Who's always the last one to get ready? Who's the big sick baby? Who likes to talk and talk and talk... The men in my life! :)

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  19. Answers...
    -I wouldn't drink Pepto every morning
    -I would NOT give up the internet forever!
    -Running naked through the grocery store... is this before or after I get my perfect body?
    -I would totally give up my favorite beverage
    -What kind of jail? Minimum security?
    -Can I still watch DVDs?
    -I would not let my bf sleep with Heidi Klum
    -There is no way in heck I would take in my aunt!!!
    -Yes, if the rat was disease free and could be cooked, I'd totally eat it.

    HOWEVER, all of this comes with a stipulation. You say that no matter what I do to myself, I'll still be smoking hot? Well, will I still be healthy? Cuz if not, then NO to all of it.

    I guess I'm not that desperate. I'm far from perfect but I'm doing well at learning to accept myself. And I'm willing to work hard to get my body as close to "perfect" as it can. Doesn't hurt that my bf thinks I'm hot anyway. ;) And I would DEFINITELY take $10,000,000!!!

  20. Sarah, you're not crazy, just honest!

    Heather, water just isn't the same a soda, is it, no matter what they say about how healthy it is. I still miss the regular old Coke and I haven't had one in probably 10 years.

    And crystal, I didn't know about the pepto/poop thing! I was just trying to think of a nasty-tasty morning elixer.

    And hi Scrumpy's Baker (you have the cutest dog!) I thought that was weird too, but I also wonder how many men read that magazine since I think it might be geared towards women. So they may have gotten a weird sampling of guys. But very funny about the men in your life!

  21. Happy New Year all!

    I read a review just recently in the Times of "How to Look Good Naked" which apparently is not a show where they make people work out and diet, but where Carson Kressley convinces the guests that they're fairly okay just the way they are, and dresses them up and stuff. Anybody seen this? The review was pretty much a rave. I meant to watch it Friday, but then I forgot because I was too tired.

    So this year I meant to get a jump on fitness by starting December 1 instead of January 1, and I joined an online gym (more on that later), but then December started getting frantic--Christmas is no holiday for me, but this year it was way full of drama, like ER visits with daughters etc and having my finger mangled by the Christmas tree stand. So I didn't do anything special at all. Fortunately I didn't have much time or inclination to eat, so I didn't get my usual extra padding for the holiday.

    Now I'm back on WeightWatchers, intending to lose another ten or so before my daughter's wedding next month. (I kept off the ten I lost last year, so YAY.)

    But the point I really want to make is I'm trying to be less critical of my own looks. I think I need to lose the weight because it's just too darn hard on my knees, but I'm trying not to think too cosmetically about it.

    No extra toes for me. Though I COULD use a new finger.

  22. Shelby, I love that you'd eat a rat before taking in your aunt! (But I totally get it, especially for a year) Great answers, and your bf sounds like a lucky guy.

  23. Hi Melissa, sounds like quite the holiday drama! And yeah, I'm curious about that show too, especially since I seem to be running ads for it through blogher.

    Glad you survived the holidays, and good luck with the exercise and the WW program.

  24. The Bag Lady caught the tail-end of an episode "How to Look Good Naked", but she thinks it was maybe the British version -- all she remembers was they tried various body wraps to lose inches. One of the wraps was chocolate. The woman didn't lose as many inches as some of the others, but she said she smelled really good...

  25. "Seventeen percent of men and eleven percent of women would give up 20 IQ points to achieve a perfect body" - Pardon my language, but indeed, that is *seriously* f*cked up.

    As for what I'd do to look perfect all my life:
    -Run naked through your local grocery store (just once but you have to pass through every aisle) -This would be a hoot...can I have a few stiff drinks first?
    -Go to jail for 3 months (one week seems too easy) - what kind of prison? I could make it work I think.
    -Never watch TV again (no cheating and watching on the internet)- Sure.
    -Give up your favorite beverage-no coffee? Yeah. I had to for allergies in the past, so why not?

    The dead rat thing is just too wierd-bordering-on-nutter to even consider.

    Now before I sound too lahdedah...
    Having said this, while in university struggling with biochemical pathways and genetic minutia, I remember stating MANY times that I'd undergo 4 hours of gruelling horrible torture (any kind) if it meant that after it I'd glean all the complete knowledge I needed for my career. So...I guess it all depends on *what* we want badly enough.

    Strangely enough I found myself looking for stipulations...like could I hold out and do all these until I was 60 and then reneg? (like with the TV, internet and drink one?) and just be a *really* old lady?

  26. OH...and sign me up for the 10 million...:)

  27. Are you kidding me????

    Why do I feel like I'm the only one who's crazy here?

    I am very smart, have a great career, but you know what, I would do all of the above EXCEPT never watching television, or not getting that $10 million, to have the perfect body for the rest of my life and not have to worry about it.

    I am a very healthy eater and I exercise regularly but to have the perfect body guaranteed for the rest of my life would allow me to be even healthier, if that makes any sense. I would give almost anything to get rid of this obsession over food and exercise and my weight.

  28. Okay, seriously? All that talk has made me actually want to try rat meat. Just so that I know what it tastes like.

    But then, I come from a country where we eat frog thighs, so I suppose this was hidden somewhere in my genes. :P

  29. Wow. I would never give up IQ points! I would take the 10 million though! Money can buy me a personal trainer and chef. That way I would still loose the weight & regain my hot body.
    Of course, it would still take a team of plastic surgeons to restore my face back to "thirty" without looking like a freak!

    Kery, go ahead and shave your head, it is so freeing being bald! But do it for a cancer drive, if you are going to do it.

  30. BUT losing weight and looking younger are really in two different categories. One you can do something about through lifestyle changes and the other is just the nature of the beast. Everyone gets old, but we don't all have to be fat...

    I'd never give anything up to be thinner, because if dieting has taught me anything -- the second I give something up I start obsessing about it!

    Having said all that, depending on which jail it was... lol!

  31. A lot of that stuff I don't think I'd do (give up tv and the internet, are you crazy?!), but I would give up my job rather than gain 75lbs (unless it meant I couldn't get another job). Gaining 75lbs would seriously impact my life span because it would give me health issues. And if I'm having trouble dating at the weight I am now, I can't even imagine the prejudice I'd go against if I were 75lbs heavier.

    Also, I would totally take the 10 million dollars. For that much money, you can live off the interest, have more time to do only the things you want to do (not as much what you have to do just to stay afloat). Money buys time. And it also buys personal trainers and healthy food! And vacations. Man, do I miss traveling....

  32. Wow, you know what I'd be willing to do to lose or maitain weight? Eat a healthy diet and exercise!

    Wacky, huh?

    Some people.

  33. Prison, rats, extra toes...yeah, it makes exercise and dieting seem like a great deal!

  34. The people surveyed must have been dolts. Please. Give me the ten million dollars and I'll buy a perfect face and body, thank you much.

    Drink a full glass of Pepto Bismol every morning forever?
    Maybe-- are there long term side effects from Pepto???

    Refrain from ever getting on the internet again
    No-- I'd rather weigh twenty pounds (I'm a svelte 13.5 pounds right now-- have been since 2002.)

    Run naked through your local grocery store (just once but you have to pass through every aisle)
    I'm naked most of the time-- that is unless I'm wearing my fabulous poncho. So sure, why not.

    Go to jail for 3 months (one week seems too easy)
    Jail-- can I sleep eighteen hours a day in jail? Will I get a bed to lounge around?

    Never watch TV again (no cheating and watching on the internet)
    Nope. Gotta have my Ellen

    Give up your favorite beverage
    Nope. Running water from the bathtub is my all time favorite beverage. It's a must have.

    Take in your least favorite relative or neighbor and let them live with you for a year
    Um-- no

    Let your spouse sleep with the celebrity of his/her choice (because as long as we're dealing with magical solutions, we're stipulating that the celebrity is totally up for it).
    Why not??? Being a cat I'm not that big on monogamy.

    Eat a dead rat (just one, guaranteed disease-free rat, not one every day. And you can cook it).

    -- P

  35. I can't even imagine giving up IQ points... #%0 ! Mine's not going to get me into Mensa, but it's about 45 points above average (before factoring in menopausal fog), and I'm already continually shocked by what depths human stupidity can reach. I wouldn't want to be a daily contributor to that ongoing nightmare. The horrendous lack of common sense exhibited by people driving in traffic alone boggles my mind!

    I could totally eat the dead rat for even just say like a hundred bucks, it's just meat. As long as I could batter and deep fry it.. oh wait, didn't KFC already try that?

    I would shave my head if I could wear a cap, and I would jog slowly, not run, naked through a store, I could just never shop there again..

    And I'd so take 10 mil to keep on struggling with this body and show my age. I could help take stress off of a lot of people I love with that much. I have chronic pain too, but it would be a good trade.

  36. When can I expect to receive the $10 million? :)


  37. hmmm...how many points is a dead rat and do i get to keep the perfect body forever or is it just fleeting

  38. You guys are hilarious!

    I was a little embarrassed to post this, because even though I'm not a particularly vain person and don't need to lose a bunch of weight, I'd actually consider some of these, especially if I were significantly overweight and had a crappy metabolism. I always find it interesting, too, how different everyone is about what they'd consider vs. what they think is intolerable.

  39. Can I still have the perfect body if I elect to REMOVE a toe? I would happily give up the babytoe from each foot. Then, I could look extra hot, and be comfortable in my sexy pointy heels. I'm missing the point, aren't I??

    I would take the $10 mill, but I might put some of towards a very motivating personal trainer. I might be missing the point again :) Very intriguing post!!

  40. If a perfect body means an end to my endless orthopedic issues, I'm there. Totally. I'd do it all in spades. (I think)

    As for rats, for awhile there, in China, people were eating rats. I read an article about it years ago in the WSJ -- apparently, the rat shish kebob was most in tune with Western palates.

  41. Does "perfect body" mean perfect _looking_ or perfectly _healthy_? If health is included I am soooo there! At least if it lasts.
    I'm perfectly (that word) content with my fifty-five-ish, statistically twenty to thirty pounds overweight body as far as looks go. How I feel, now, that's another pot of stew.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  42. Do I have to RUN through the store?

    If I can WALK... yep. No problem.

    <---taking lazy to a whole new level...

  43. I heard about this study on the radio this morning and they started talking about Oprah and how she has six toes.

    I'm happy taking the weight off the old fashioned way, "exercise."

    Thanks for a great blog that gives me my daily laugh.

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