Weight Loss, Fitness, Health, and Body Image, According to Robertson Davies

“But what I want to know is this: couldn’t somebody of that type moderate his physique, by the right kind of diet and exercise, and general care?”

“To some extent. Not without more trouble than it would probably be worth. That’s what’s wrong with all these diets and body-building courses and so forth. You can go against your type, and probably achieve a good deal as long as you keep at it. Look at these Hollywood stars–they starve themselves and get surgeons to carve them into better shapes and all that because it’s their livelihood. Every now and then one of them can’t stand it any more, then it’s the overdose. The body is the inescapable factor, you see. You can keep in good shape for what you are, but radical change is impossible. Health isn’t making everybody into a Greek ideal; it’s living out the destiny of the body. If you’re thinking about yourself, I guess you could knock off twenty-five pounds to advantage, but that wouldn’t make you a thin man; it’d make you a neater fat man. What the cost would be to your nerves, I couldn’t even guess.”

“In short, be not another if thou canst be thyself.”

“What’s that?”

“More Paracelsus

“He’s dead right. But it isn’t simple, being yourself. You have to know yourself physiologically and people don’t want to believe the truth about themselves. They get some mental picture of themselves and then they devil the poor old body, trying to make it like the picture. When it won’t obey–can’t obey, of course–they are mad at it, and live in it as if it were an unsatisfactory house they were hoping to move out of. A lot of illness comes from that.”


– Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels


Happy 101st Birthday, Mr. Davies.


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