Spent the day at the Oregon National Primate Research Center for the New York Times. The whole facility is immense with more than 4,000 monkeys on site. One thing I learned was to never show your teeth to a monkey or look then straight in the eye...it makes them aggressive, perhaps good advice for the world of dating. I was there to photograph the fat monkeys, the ones spending their days on the couch, eating chips and drinking soda. Ok, not really. But for the last several years researchers there have been doing tests to mimic the average American diet and lifestyle and the results aren't pretty (though they did end up on the front page of the Sunday paper). This colony of monkeys have been fattened up to help scientists study the human epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
I left the assignment feeling all sorts of things, like:
"Wow, that was amazing and fascinating and I love my job."
"I am never drinking soda again."
"Do we really need to be caging a bunch of cute monkeys to study how messed up humans are?"
But mostly I felt kind of sad. Being obese is not an easy thing, it is bad for your health and your esteem and your career, but it is also not something easy to fix, no matter how many monkeys we fatten up.
And so I was sad. For the fat monkeys, for the number of times a week I weigh myself, and for America.