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International No-Diet Day—The Diet Museum

barbiephoto by Judith Smith

Barbie and thigh cream were the focus of one of the many provocative exhibits at The Diet Museum in New York City on May 5.

International No-Diet Day was started by Mary Evans Young, the director of Diet Breakers in England in 1992. It was first observed in the U.S. in 1993 and more extensively this year as a result of the efforts of Miriam Berg (Council on Size and Weight Discrimination) and the May 5th Coalition, a network of groups and individuals from the anti-size discrimination and anti-dieting movements.

The goals of the May 5th Coalition are to increase public awareness of the anti-diet/size acceptance/fat liberation movement; to further publicize the high failure rate of dieting; to teach people how to maximize their health, no matter what their size; to expose the unacceptable risks of weight-loss surgery and to insist that the federal government act to reduce those risks.

To honor the occasion, The National Center for Overcoming Overeating, with endorsements from the May 5th Coalition and the Women's Therapy Centre Institute, sponsored a Diet Museum in New York City in the lobby of a building at 84th and Broadway.

With tape measures as streamers and a cart full of diet foods at the entrance, the museum exhibited relics from our dieting past. Among the more valuable memorabilia were a diamond Weight Watchers™ pin; a signed copy of Jean Nidetch's Weight Watchers Program Cookbook; a 1969 Weight Watchers receipt book; a diet plate of cottage cheese (topped with peaches) and melba toast; a collection of Weight Watchers scales; booklets from every possible diet organization; diet books; a large assortment of diet pills; Barbies surrounded by cans of Ultra SlimFast® and thigh cream; and a pyramid of cans of diet soda. Betty Ann Felderman, an artist who stopped dieting some years ago, created spectacular signs and exhibits using a scale motif.

Perhaps next year—with some of you as curators—the museum will establish branches in other cities!

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