How American Idol Changed My Life

by DavalosMcCormack on January 21, 2008

I’m not normally a big ‘American Idol’ fan, but I do love the first shows of each season. That’s when the truly awful singers come out to audition. This year while most people will be focusing on the addition of Ellen Degeneres as a new judge, I will be engrossed by the sheer audacity of the crappy. What does this have to do with health? Don’t worry, I’ll get to that.

What amazes me about these singers is not just that they are awful, that they couldn’t carry a tune if you put it in a bucket; it isn’t even that they often can’t even remember the lyrics of the song they have chosen. What truly amazes me is that for some reason they seem to think they are good, that they have talent.

Clearly they are there to be sacrificed to the acid tongue of Simon Cowell (“You should sue your singing teacher”), and deservedly so, but don’t you think having seen the show they might realize that being able to sing is something of a prerequisite for being on ‘American Idol’? Apparently not.

These clueless choristers are not the only ones who seem to have a remarkable capacity for self-delusion. That same accusation could be leveled at the way many of us live. We think we’re getting enough exercise. We think we’re eating a healthy diet. We think we are doing the right things yet we can’t understand why we continue to put on weight, get fat, and develop diseases like diabetes. We allow ourselves to believe what we want to be true. Why? Because it is easier, because it is more convenient, and because then it means we don’t have to make the changes needed to truly lead healthy lives.

For proof of our self-delusion you need look no further than a study by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. The researchers found that more than 40 percent of parents with obese children, ages 6 to 11, describe their child not as obese, but as “about the right weight.”

Now these are kids who are not just a few pounds overweight, but seriously obese, putting them on course for a lifetime of health problems – not to mention social ones too – yet their parents say they’re ok. Maybe it’s just a matter of looking around and seeing that most of the other kids look like yours so that means they are “normal”, and conveniently ignoring the fact that the other kids are also obese. Whatever the reason, the end result is the same, we ignore a big problem right in front of us.

So maybe what we need is an inner Simon Cowell. Someone who doesn’t pull punches when it comes to telling us the truth. On ‘American Idol’ Simon seems to relish letting bad singers know just how awful they are (“If you had lived 2,000 years ago and sung like that, I think they would have stoned you”). In life we need someone to be equally blunt in telling us when we are deluding ourselves about our lifestyles, our habits, our health. “Do you really need extra cheese on that pizza?”

Maybe if we were able to channel our own inner Simon we might be more realistic about our own health habits. Who knows, watching ‘American Idol’ could help us avoid becoming another idle American.

And if you really want to see some of this year’s dreadful singers, here you are.

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