But first, a little on me. I am not a small woman. I've been overweight since I was about 5 years old, and hence, subconscious about my food choices and the frequent judgement that goes with them. We live in a culture where skinny women eating junk food hear people say things like, "Oh you're so lucky! You can eat like that and be skinny as a rail!" Overweight people eating the same thing, on the other hand, feel shade thrown at them and hear comments like, "Mmmm... french fries. I would eat those too, but I'm worried about gaining weight."
And while I use junk food in the above example, women aren't exempted from judgement with healthy food choices either. Skinny girls chowing down on a salad get, "OMG - you need to eat something! You're so thin!" and the fat girls get, "Good for you! You're eating something healthy!" (implication: oh, the novelty!). The bottom line is, no matter what a woman chooses to put in her mouth in public, it seems like there's some jackass who feels entitled to comment about it.
Don't be that jackass. I'm serious. It's rude, and it needs to stop.
Food is nourishment for our bodies. From a nutritional standpoint, there are certainly better and worse ways to pursue that nourishment. And for grown-up folks, how someone chooses to secure nourishment is a personal decision affected by a lot of factors that aren't anyone else's business. Some people, like me, reluctantly turn to fast food lunches way too often because I never seem to have time in the morning to pack something healthy, and for some reason, the drive-thrus are severely lacking in steamed broccoli and quinoa salad. Choking back a cheeseburger doesn't make me feel good about myself, but it makes me feel less hungry in the half-hour I'm allotted for lunch, and sometimes that's the best I can do. If I could schedule my life better and prioritize healthy eating, my lunch choices would definitely change and I would probably be thinner for it. You know what? I already know that. My inner critic tells me that all the time. And I don't need anyone to remind me, thank you very much. Other women have different issues that affect the food on their plate - food allergies, eating disorders, lack of transportation, financial constraints. Still, nobody's business but their own. (Unless you're talking on a macro level, in which case it's a great idea for us to put our heads together and tackle things like public transportation problems, food deserts, and living wages).
- When I was 6 or 7, I was at a day camp. While sitting on the edge of the stage in the auditorium, a boy asked me why my thighs flattened out to take up more space and his didn't. I still remember what that kid looked like.
- When I was 10, I joined Weight Watchers for the first time.
- When I was in high school, one of my teachers told me that I would be pretty if I lost some weight.
- A long time ago, I worked for an employer with rigid workplace food rules and a whole lotta judgement. Employees were actually encouraged to submit their weight and blood panel results for other employees to scrutinize, and were awarded prizes based on their "health." For those of us who weren't "winners," this program was demoralizing, not motivating.
I know that food commenters don't necessarily mean to be rude. Maybe they are just filling a conversational void. But when I start eating half of a turkey wrap at noon, and you pop in at 12:10 and exclaim, "You've already eaten your lunch? That was quick!" I hear your comment through a filter of a lot of past crap, and I don't come out of it on the other side feeling particularly good about myself. Do you want to initiate a conversation with me? A better topic is the weather. Halloween costumes. The pretty autumn leaves. A funny movie. The trending meme on Twitter. Whatever. The truth is that the majority of American womankind - fat and skinny and everywhere in between - has food issues of some sort. So many of us are fighting raging internal battles every single day. Stop analyzing our food, and stop fueling the fire.