The Problem: The New York Times recently reported that dieting can make you fatter.

Really? What is the average person to do when faced with this information? Give up? Slide into an ice-cream-induced haze of excess pounds? Toss out those jeans that you are able to wear approximately two weeks out of every year, but still take pride of place in your closet?

With apologies to every well-meaning person who wants us to feel good about ourselves and forget media-induced frenzy over unhealthy body images, I need more than this. Give me false hope. I’m fine with that.

For once, Austen is not all that helpful. In Persuasion, she wrote, “Personal size and mental sorrow have certainly no necessary proportions. A large bulky figure has as good a right to be affected as the most graceful set of limbs in the world.” Austen goes on to say that “…fair or not fair, there are unbecoming conjunctions, which reason will patronize in vain–which taste cannot tolerate–which ridicule will seize.”

No. Not much help there. And I would argue that personal size and mental sorrow are proportionate. For many people, the size of their bodies has a direct correlation to their mental sorrow.

Let us look, then, to Alexander Pope. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”

Amen to that. And give whoever is willing to follow his dictum a big-ass grant from the NIH.