I’ll be honest, when I sat down and first started watching ‘The Naked Dietitian’, a one woman show at the Quaker Meeting House (Venue 40), I thought the editor had sent me to the wrong place. With the remit of reviewing a ‘science-themed show’ it wasn’t immediately obvious to me where the science was coming into it.
As a spoken word performance, it was an hour-long rendition of a piece of writing by the dietitian-cum-poet Lucy Aphramor. We are told before the performance starts “don’t listen to the words themselves, try and feel their meaning”, which I must admit, with my mind primed for critical scientific analysis, started ringing alarm bells. However, the advice made sense. Initially I ignored it, of course, and soon found myself lost, picking apart metaphors from several minutes prior. After some time though, I managed to activate the right-hand side of my brain and latch on to the rhythm of Aphramor’s performance. The poem weaved several different anecdotes, stitched together with quotes and imagery, to convey the poet’s opinions on some contentious contemporary issues.
Aphramor’s main message is that our understanding of the science of a healthy body shape is flawed. She claims that telling people to lose weight is more dangerous than obesity, because of the health impacts of the resultant “yo-yo dieting” and the mental health issues that follow failure in this regard. She also discusses how racism and other social issues have more of an impact on health than purely physical demographics. Her poem reinforced the fact that it is always good to foster a critical approach to established science. She, for example, claims to me afterwards that there is “no evidence that losing weight leads to better health, only that naturally thin people are healthier than naturally fat people”. In this respect, the show is a thought-provoking starting point for further discussion down the pub (or café) afterwards.
To conclude, if you enjoy spoken word performance, and have an interest in the social science aspects of health, I would highly recommend this show, although for the less “poetically minded” (such as myself), you may find yourself getting a bit lost in the sea of words. It is a show with an important message, but one that must be felt and not heard.
This article was written by Isaac Shaw and edited by Bonnie Nicholson.