(painting by Lee Price)
I am now a person who eats anything-turkey sandwiches with avocado, bacon, and aioli mayonnaise, burgers with sweet, limp onions and melted cheese, food prepared inside a street truck and presented to me in warm aluminum foil. I keep talking and thinking about my new eating behavior, because it’s so weird to be not maniacal about keeping kosher. Every time I put these foods in my mouth, I wait for terror, for the desire to purge it, but it never comes. Instead is the feeling like my stomach is falling. It’s a strange sensation, light and fast and fleeting.
Today is International No-Diet Day. INDD is about affirming our right to self esteem, emotional and physical well being, as well as a chance to celebrate body shape/weight diversity, learn about the impact of dieting on health, the implications of dieting on violence against women, and take a break from obsessing about food, body size and weight.
I’ve never been on a diet, but I have also had very few periods in my life where I can remember having a healthy relationship with food. I’m very aware of the fact that I’m not skinny, which I think I’m becoming okay with, although I’m constantly thinking about the fact that if you aren’t skinny, you always have to be acting like you want to be, or like you’re trying to be, because the fact that you aren’t thin, or that you’re fat, is totally unacceptable.
There’s a pretty loud voice in my head saying,“if you just lost weight, you could love your body.” Through a feminist lens, I know this isn’t true-we live in a society where no one is allowed to love their body. It’s important, of course, to know when weight is impacting health, but fat phobia is not about that. Health becomes another vehicle and pretense through which to humiliate someone and punish them for deviating from a norm. It’s about deciding that a person is aberrant, gluttonous, it’s about fearing how much space people take up, especially if that person is a woman.
I think it’s a lot to expect that we’ll learn to love our bodies, or rather, that I will. It’s a hurdle I’ve been trying to overcome for years. Quoting the folk over at Fat and the Ivy: “For those who are interested, the day after tomorrow is also no diet day. And the day following. And the one after that. Ad infinitum.”