It happens almost every day. Sitting at the communal lunch table, usually playing Pocket Frogs or reading a book while I eat my lunch, I hear it start up…
“Oh, market day is my downfall, I turn into such a piggy-wig!”
“I don’t eat dairy, gluten or sugar. You know they’re poison and make you fat.”
“Well, I did go for a run yesterday, so I guess I can have bread today.”
“Ohhhhh, that looks so yummy, but if I eat anything like that, I just get SO fat!”
“How many calories/carbs are in that?”
“You’re so naughty, good on you!”
I could go on and on and on with the kind of anxiety and analysing of food and eating that I hear every day from people (mostly women) all around me at meal times. Women often use angst about food to bond with each other and you cannot get away from almost constant analysis and judgement of food and what other people are eating. And don’t get me started on the amount of judgement over what fat people are eating, yeesh! I have heard so many stories of fatties having complete strangers stop them in the supermarket to berate them over the contents of their shopping trollies, or being commented on in public for eating ANYTHING. You can’t eat a salad, because that garners comments on how you must be doing it to lose weight, and you can’t eat an ice-cream because then you’re a gluttonous pig. It’s a no win situation for fatties and food. I have so many of my own experiences being shamed about food and eating by both complete strangers and people in my life, we could be here for a week.
What I wonder though, is how much of our time and energy are we as women wasting on thinking about food? Because it seems, the more people put judgement on food and eating, the more time they spend thinking about food. In my experience, the women who make the most judgemental statements, like I have listed above, are the ones who constantly talk about food. And I’ve noticed my own behaviour change as I’ve removed all that angst and judgement about food from my own life. Back in my dieting days, food was all I thought about. Because I couldn’t have it, and because it all had so many rules and regulations and conditions, I would obsess over the food I wasn’t eating, all the time. I have made all of those statements listed above at some time, and many more. I would spend hours justifying every morsel I ever ate, every rice cracker, every celery stick, every raw almond. Conversations over meals were all about how I had “earned” the food or I how I was “naughty” for eating something.
Basically, I not only wasted a whole lot of time, but I was a crashing bore too. I mean really, isn’t there something more interesting to talk about over a meal? Or if we’re going to talk about food, how about we talk about it without all the moralising? About it’s flavour, it’s texture, where it was sourced from, how it was prepared. Or perhaps we could talk about how some people have access to higher quality food than others, usually based on wealth. Anything has to be better than putting false morality on food and eating.
Personally, I have embraced the #freefatty philosophy. I refuse to be judged for my food and eating choices, and refuse to participate in the moralising of food and eating. Plus, I refuse to justify what I eat. I don’t need to provide a reason for eating either a salad or an ice cream. It’s my body and my life. If other people think I shouldn’t eat something, they can mind their own damn business. While I’m still having to work on undoing a lifetime of baggage around food and eating, I am finding the more I let go of that judgement around food and eating, both for myself and for others, the less obsessive and anxious I am about food and eating.
Part of the oppression of fat people lies in the constant demand for us to justify our food choices. We have to constantly prove we are being “good” because we’re fat, we’re not allowed to ever eat anything that is perceived as “bad”. People watch every morsel that we eat (and they do, I can’t tell you the number of times someone has tried to “out” me for eating something that is “bad” or “unhealthy”) and place judgement on us for whatever it is. Ask yourself, how often have you heard someone describe a slim woman eating say, ice-cream as “sexy”, yet in the next breath, referred to a fat woman eating the EXACT same thing as “gross”? How often do you see comments from fat haters that say “Just put down the cheeseburger.”?
Firstly, what other people eat is no business of anyone but themselves. It comes under the “If it’s not your body, it’s not your business.” rule. So we don’t need to justify our food choices. Secondly, I’m sure we all have things we’d much rather be doing than obsessing over food. What can we do with our time and energy if we don’t waste it on angst and analysis of every morsel that we put in our mouths?