There’s something about a group of women gathered around a table laden with carbs and calories. Baked chicken and mounds of buttery mashed potatoes. Cheesy, dripping casseroles. The veggie tray that nobody really wants but everyone feels obliged to sample. And dessert. Glorious, chocolatey dessert.
That food and those smiling faces – it’s a little glimpse of Heaven.
Ladies. I need you to listen to me.
We have got to stop obsessing over what we eat.
Yes, some of us have very real medical restrictions. Allergies are real. Surgeries and illness alter the body. I can’t eat red meat and have to keep the grease intake low. (Goodbye, my beloved French fries). Yes, we all have preferences. We all have things we like and things we don’t like. Certain ways we like to prepare our food. (If you’re like me, you like it prepared by someone else). Yes, we should be aware of how food affects our health. Yes, we should exercise.
Just eat the cookie. (Gluten-free if that’s what you need).
I’ve had it with the pursuit of “skinny.” You get that all those pictures are run through the ringer of airbrushing, lighting and photoshopping, right? You understand that it’s impossible for the span of your hips to be smaller than the span of your shoulders, right? You know that the woman in that spread is an amalgamation of several different, possibly entirely fabricated, people, right?
Of course you know all of that. We know all of that.
So why don’t we believe it?
I’m starting to think that it’s not a matter of not knowing or believing the facts. There are too many documentaries and articles about the beauty industry. It’s also not about being healthy; I will always applaud the efforts of all women to take care of themselves. But “skinny” is different. Something else completely. I think we continue to chase after “skinny” because we want to feel superior.
I know a woman who is at a point in her life where she should be comfortable in her own skin. Youth is long past and middle age is wrapping up. She shouldn’t care about this stuff anymore. But she takes every opportunity to discuss what she does and doesn’t eat and what size she wears. The look on her face says it all.
Is that really how we want to be? Do we really want to spend our whole lives both mourning the size we are and feeling “better than” people who are larger than us? Are we seriously going to continue to buy into the lie that the number on the tag means anything at all? That it impacts our value?
I have days when I feel bad about my body. Almost a year after surgery my abdomen remains lumpy. The left side of my waist feels completely different from the right. Because of my health problems I am never, ever going to be “skinny,” even if I switched to a vegan, organic, gluten-free diet. Currently I carry about 10-15 extra pounds (depending on the day and how easily accessible the chocolate is) and wear a size 12. Sometimes I get bummed out knowing that I don’t have the “perfect” (whatever that is) body.
And then I think: Who freaking cares?
Here’s the thing. I used to be “skinny.” When I graduated high school I was a size four. Sometimes a two. When I got married, I was a four/six. And I wasn’t happier or more fulfilled. I wasn’t more successful or beloved. I wasn’t better than anyone else.
“Skinny” means nothing.
I refuse to believe that my value and beauty rest on that itchy and always weirdly-placed tag. I’m not going to play this stupid, soul-sucking game of comparing myself to others. If you want to feel better because you weigh less than I do, that’s fine. Just don’t expect me to feel bad or skulk around in mumus in order to contribute to your sense of awesomeness. Don’t expect me to feed your ego. (I’d rather poke it with a stick, to be honest).
My friends, we have better things to do. Maybe, just maybe, if we would stop caring so much about our pants and cared a little more about the world around us, we could really shake things up. Perhaps if we took all that energy and poured it into loving others, we could make a difference. If we stopped believing men’s words about our worth and started believing God’s word, we could be unstoppable.
So just eat the cookie.
For all entries in the 31 Days for the Ladies series, go here.