Debating the Juice Cleanse

April 19, 2014

The Non-Juicer:

I’m not sure when juice cleanses became so ubiquitous. A quick Google search led me to an article in the New York Times discussing the ‘new fad’ from 2010, but I think I first started feeling they were everywhere sometime last year, in part because that was when I got Instagram and was exposed to pictures of the weird concoctions in pretty bottles, with “#betchy” inevitably in the caption. We are the politically correct, pluralistic generation that is supposed to be accepting of all beliefs and practices and opinions; we, as Brown students and millennials, are not supposed to cast judgement on anything. But I can’t help it. I have a controversial opinion: I think juice cleanses are really, really dumb.

The thing is, I have friends who do them. Really, really smart friends, really loving friends, really normal friends. But something about juice cleanses will never make sense to me – even when they explain that you consume no fewer calories, even when they say they get full because there’s so much packed into each drink, even when they state all the health benefits and say the word ‘toxins’ a lot. It’s the association with a Gwenyth Paltrow lifestyle, I think, that I can’t stand. (I read somewhere once that a journalist tried to live by the advice of GOOP for one week and ended up spending thousands of dollars in days. It’s really expensive to find zen and rid yourself of ‘toxins’!)

Of course, I’m being facetious; I don’t think I am really of some minority opinion – by in large, most girls haven’t done juice cleanses or even considered them, but for whatever reason, I feel lately that they are so in the rhetoric of girls I know. It’s one those things that I attempt to bring up mockingly to someone, only to discover they are a follower, a mini Gwyneth, eyes-wide and ready to explain to me how good their body felt afterwards.

Why should I care? No one’s juices are bothering me, spilling on to my solid-form food and ruining my eating for the day. But it just bothers me. It bothers me when someone says, “I totally cheated. I ate an apple! During my CLEANSE!” When I eat an apple, I feel proud. I am like,wow, I totally didn’t eat a bag of “Tostitos with a Hint of Lime” just now. I ate an apple! Also, the whole trajectory of a juice cleanse is always told like this: “The first day, you feel really good. Then by the end you’re like, I’m kinda hungry. Then the next day you’re really hungry, like maybe you want to die a little. Then you feel SO good! And by the end your body feels amazing. (But omg I totally cheated, I ate an apple).” That does not sound nice to me. That sounds really awful. I hated hearing that. And those are the people who admit to some suffering, who are far superior to the ones who claim to love every minute of it. Liars.

But to write such a dismissal without having ever tried it myself, I admit, is unfair. What do I know? A juice cleanse experienced writer explains the trend more thoughtfully below:

The Juicer:

Hey, I’m one of the above author’s really smart, really loving, debatably normal friends that has embarked on the GOOP-iest of challenges: the three-day cleanse. Okay, so I’m just going to get this over with; I’ve actually cleansed not once, but twice. But why do we do it if are we so embarrassed to publicly endorse this fad, perpetually on the receiving end of an eye roll? I know, how could someone actually enjoy three days without, like, real food?

The first time I juiced –yes, I’m using “juice” as a verb—it was via Organic Avenue. Yup, Organic Avenue; that’s what the company is called, and I’m not even going to go into a full-blown analysis of its ridiculousness. Pretty much, they give you cute little pear-shaped cleverly-named bottles of juice packed inside trendy freezer bags that scream “I’m on a cleanse.” Oh, and everything is orange, which is a pretty gender-neutral color. Read: cleanses are not just for women.

Anyways, my mom and I were really excited to embark on the adventure. What’s better than a little mother-daughter bonding over a trendy bottle of “coconut mylk”? Brunch is so 2010. At first, all I wanted was food, but as the hours ticked by I felt pretty satisfied, and by the third day, I was ready for anything. I couldn’t get meals with friends, which was seriously annoying, but for three days it was just me and mom on the betchiest adventure of my generation.

After the cleanse, I felt pretty damn fantastic and accomplished. And yeah, I felt like a mini Gwyneth and might have even named my first-born child Apple in that moment. Obviously, my physical appearance wasn’t any different, but I just felt better. I wanted to wear my body-con clothing again and my self-esteem skyrocketed. The next week was the first week of school, and I was ready to take on College Hill with my juice-cleansed bod and high spirits.

So let’s not completely dismiss this trend as silly. Cleanses make you feel good and even the most self-assured girl needs a little boost once in a while. We’ve all felt “fat” or “bloated” at some point. I’ve even used these as excuses to not go out. And I know I should never feel this way, but I really don’t think I can erase those self-deprecating words from my feelings vocabulary. And while some may choose to drink away those very normal insecurities with a vodka soda, I sipped green juice with my mom. And let it be known, we had fun because we were willing to laugh along the way.

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