I wonder if the reason we are all so fascinated by vampires is that we are vampires, slowly draining the blood from our land. By our habits we suck the life out of the soil, the seas, and each other, turning workers into slaves in distant countries, buying surface sprays that promise to transform our homes into havens of immaculate lifelessness. Is that why we want to see this as desirable and glamorous? Is that why we long to confess?
It seems to me equally understandable that we are experiencing gluttony (obesity) as a leading cause of death, and sex as ‘an addiction’. These are the functions of survival: we need to eat, and we need to reproduce. At present our survival is threatened.* So naturally we can’t stop eating – or dieting, in some cases. We can’t stop thinking about sex – including all the primping, dyeing, shopping for killer shoes, posing, and choosing facebook profile pics.
I realise ‘we’ is a convenience, a generalisation so broad as to have very little meaning. But I mean it. We are in trouble.
On the high street I have been noticing a giant poster advertising skinny jeans. The models stand in a pouting row, bare-breasted, coyly protecting their chests with splayed and manicured hands. These are porn poses – the kinds of postures that ten years ago I would have never have seen, unless I had sought them out in specialist magazines. Now they are normalised on the high street, a flagrant yet oddly unsexy display.
Selected through a punitive auditioning process, photographed at the pinnacle of youth and freshness, these beautiful girls are highly socially desirable. To get here they have passed through the eye of the needle: dieted, dyed, denied themselves. The four of them embody what every eight-year-old girl dreams of. Yet on closer examination they seem weirdly unhealthy. That glowing skin tone has been artificially applied. Round the midriff they are pudgy with incipient rolls of fat. These beauties are not built as their mothers were out of fruit and fibre, vegetables and meat. In fact they are the first generation raised on hormones and additives, preservatives and complex fats. They are built from junk.
As Michael Pollan points out, processed foods that do not break down on the shelf are not in fact foods at all. And if microbes won’t eat them: neither should you. Drifting down the alleys of supermarket aisles in a torpid trance of sugar overdose, slow-moving with fats, we are all busy building ourselves out of junk. If fashion models show signs of deterioration at their physical peak – what does that say about the rest of us?
*To those still clinging to the driftwood of climate change denial: your arguments are built from junk. If science is mistaken. If our actions, unprecedented and massive in scale, cause only some tiny fraction of the natural cycle of climate change. Therefore it’s overwhelmingly urgent we make every effort in that tiny percentile we influence. Use your logic: it’s imperative. All hands on deck at this point. You’ll be welcomed.