NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

On Eating

June23

We have all heard the stereotypes about fat people and food (feel free to vent in comments, darlings). And while I consider myself somewhat of a novice foodie, I’m nowhere near gourmet-dom. I only started to enjoy cooking at home a few years ago and never would have imagined owning my own cafe. I could never afford the finer dining lifestyle anyhow, but it’s fun to watch those shows that let you inside and behind the scenes, so fun! I enjoy my share of celebrity chefs and their ilk, but not too many now days. In fact I’ve begun to view a lot of food related things differently since taking my food safety course (I wish they were free and mandatory for everyone). I’ve also become a bit of a germ-a-phobe! Who knew?!

Socially, I suck, when it comes to food. I have no problem cooking for, presenting and hosting others food. However, when it comes to my eating in front of people I must think it through first. For one thing, I am a very slow eater. Plus, I like to talk. This can make a 30 minute lunch/meal/etc last upwards of 2 hours (I swear I was Italian in my last life and I kick myself for not eating and experiencing more when I was there). I keep this in mind when making plans for meet ups and friends and such. But then there’s the issue of what to order. Ugh! I love salads, I’m a California gal, but it doesn’t mean that’s all I eat. Sometimes I want a nice pasta dish or whatever, ya know? But being a fat ordering food in a restaurant is almost like assigning a time and place for people to give you the stink-eye (or judgment face, or as my husband says I give him, the “skwunch-eye”). It’s bullshit and none of their business ever, but it is the state of things. I usually ignore such things and go about MY business, but I’m not impervious to it either. I worry about the messiness of a dish I may eat in public (sauces, no matter how delish, can make me so overly self-conscious I will stop eating). It’s silly, but it’s in my head somehow.

Eating in front of people started to get to me in high school and I’m not even sure why! I guess just general awkwardness. Everyone ate together back then, like it was nothing. But I recall a lunch with my BFFs in a burger king that left me feeling weird ever since. Nothing happened specifically that I can recall, but that is my first memory of feeling weird about eating in public/in front of people. I wasn’t terribly interested in food back then and pretty much subsisted on frozen foods and taco bell (and the occasional fave: deli sandwiches). I only knew how to cook three things until my husband and I started to actually cook. Those three things? Scrambled eggs, mac ‘n cheese and spaghetti. No lie! If I was home alone and hungry you can bet on my making one of those things for myself. With a giant glass of orange juice!

It is a very different feeling when you are serving food to the public in a restaurant environment while fat. Especially, I would argue, if what you are serving is “healthy.”  You get looks you wouldn’t normally get. Ones that say, “Wow, if only you ate this food you wouldn’t be so ginormously fat.” Looks of pity, looks of disgust, the usually stuff, sure, but when they realize it’s my place? My food? My menu I created? It’s shock! Total shock! “How could someone so unhealthy create such a magical place?” Because I’m a fucking unicorn, now leave a damned tip and get out! Ha-ha! (I wish I could say such things.)

I know being publicly fat has it’s own special brand of abuses involved, but I think all fats face such things when food is involved. It’s bullshit and I think we should push back! I think we need to stare right back at those judgmental bastards (I love that word) and call them out if need be. This includes our own friends, too! I won’t get into the family thing because we all have different shit to deal with there, but if you have the sanity points? Go for it! Because we know that a lot of people think it’s perfectly fine to harass or hate or shame fats. It is up to us to make them feel uncomfortable doing it! I’m not saying we can change their minds, that is much harder for sure, but I do think we need to at the very least make extended eye contact, enough to make ’em squirm just a little, ya know?

And the truth is, I say this, but I still try not to eat in front of my customers. I still struggle with eating regularly. I work on it. I started bringing a cold sandwich to work with me and for some reason I have little trouble eating that in front of anyone. Not sure why. But struggling is fine! Nobody is perfectly self-accepting and confident every single hour of every single day. So don’t beat yourself up over it. If you can’t face the haters, then don’t. But if you can, please do! I have had some interesting things happen when I have one of those moments when I realize I am talking but somehow not exactly controlling it. Yeah, it happens. But when it happens with complete strangers about food or health or fat? It is a radical moment of fat activism! It is a moment of magic and wisdom! I love it! It also totally helps to laugh a lot to put them at ease (and yourself, I do this a ton).

We live in a world where doctors are calling us liars and diagnosing us with little more than a quick “up-down.” *headdesk* It’s not their fault entirely, though. You see, we chose to believe it’s okay to exist and live our lives as we see fit. We chose to resist societal pressure. We chose not to kill ourselves in order to fit in. They chose the blue pill. Well, I should say most people chose to believe the diet industry bullshit marketing. Some will be very open to what we have to say simply by voicing something they’ve not yet heard. I think we have to give people the chance to be open to it, too. Because, well, c’mon, when someone says something new that seems to be the opposite of all you’ve heard or been told your entire life? That’s tough to swallow, you know? And I get that, I do. And luckily for us we have this incredible resource of this amazing world wide community of fat acceptance to support and cheer us on! To lift us up and to rise above the hateful bullshit!

The first step is to stop judging. It’s a difficult one, but I think the most important. Then you must give up hating. Then give up comparing ourselves to others. Then to accept ourselves just as we are, right now. Not tomorrow or next year or at certain amount of weight…NO! Just as you are right now! Just live in your body and enjoy it and feel it and be mindful of it and what it does for you everyday. I don’t think that most people do that. We spend so much time and money and energy hating our bodies and blaming all of the ills in our lives and the world on them…and for what? What do we get from so much hate? It’s not worth it! YOU ARE WORTH SO MUCH MORE! And remember, “Nothing tastes as good as a free mind feels!” (quoting myself, ha-ha!) Just be kind, to yourself and to others. Take care of yourself. Love yourself. You can do it! I know you can, because I did! <3

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18 Comments to

“On Eating”

  1. On June 23rd, 2011 at 5:52 am Joolie Says:

    OOO GURL. I feel ya on this topic so effing hardcore. Growing up southern, food has always been a big part of my life. My mom started teaching me to cook as soon as I was old enough to see over the counter while standing on a chair. By the time I was 12, I could cook chili, beef stroganoff, veggie soup, and anything breakfast-y from memory, and I feared no recipe, or the alteration of said recipe. And everything my mom didn’t cook, my grandma taught me.

    Despite my prowess in the kitchen, I’ve always been a really slow eater, too. Not because of any sort of self-consciousness, but because I get the electric shits if I eat too fast. In high school, I’d start eating my lunch during second period. I’d peel an orange under my desk and snarf sections while the teacher had her back turned, or rip my sandwich into bite-size pieces, just to get enough of it down early on so that I had maybe one or two things to eat during our 25 minute lunch period. Because I eat so slow, I almost always eat less than anyone else–that whole thing about eating slowly filling you up faster. But never mind all that, I still have been hit with that “GOD FATTY, MAYBE YOU WOULDN’T BE SO FAT IF YOU DIDN’T GOBBLE UP EVERYTHING AROUND YOU SO FAST THAT NOBODY ELSE GETS A BITE” sort of judgment. My bff is the same height as me, but eats like a trucker. We met while working together, so we took our lunches together. And people would watch us like hawks, in total disbelief that I was sitting there, taking my time, and usually had leftovers that I’d offer to her or anyone who was around. I mean, is it really so fucking hard to believe that fatties aren’t world-devourers? It’s like that shit I was talking about the other day with my doctor–“We need to FIND your appetite.”

    Food judgment is such bollocks. Last year, I had a new friend over for the first time on my husband’s birthday. I cooked him his favorite feast–fried chicken, potato salad, and mac-n-cheese, with a chocolate pound cake. Everyone ate and enjoyed the food (or so I thought) and had a good time. But the next time I invited her over for dinner, she said “Oh, I don’t know, everything you cook is so rich and GREASY.” UM, WAT? That was one meal. A BIRTHDAY DINNER. Who the fuck goes all dainty and shit on birthday dinners? But that was enough to pass judgment on me, my cooking, and my entire diet. Said friend has learned otherwise since, but my GOD, my blood still boils when I think about that.

  2. On June 23rd, 2011 at 8:28 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Gurl, I wanna try your cooking! You are making me hungry all the way over here! Ha-ha! I am glad I’m not the only slow eater. But electric shits? No thank you! Is this a IBS type of thing? Blegh! I’m so sorry. Sounds like you’ve always known what works best for you and it’s only when others insert themselves upon you that trouble arises. I feel that way sometimes, too. I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend try to say anything about how I eat, perhaps they fear the redheaded wrath? Ha-ha! Who knows. Tanks for sharing though. I love your stories.

  3. On June 23rd, 2011 at 7:32 am Emily Says:

    Great post. Extended eye contact does make ’em squirm. I noticed this again the other day when I was out with my mom. People (read: assholes) stare at her a lot. She is very fat (about 4’10 and approx. 300 lbs) and has a visible disability (she walks very slowly with a walker, sometimes she is in a wheelchair). They mostly do it behind her back, so I don’t even think she realizes it (maybe that’s naive). Last weekend we went to a cafe in NYC and this guy was staring at her as we sat down. I stared back, making eye contact, and he looked very ashamed/embarrassed, then looked away. It felt good to call him on it. Now, if only I could stand up for myself in the same way…

  4. On June 23rd, 2011 at 8:28 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Even if she doesn’t see them stare, I’ll bet she can feel it! Sometimes I will feel people stare before I even see who is doing it. Bastards! Good for you for staring back and putting them in the uncomfortable zone! WOO!

  5. On June 23rd, 2011 at 11:14 am Twistie Says:

    I got so damn lucky in the eating in public thing. My mother – another short fat woman – brimful of awesome as she was, adored food, adored cooking, read cookbooks like novels, introduced me to Julia Child (on TV not, alas!, in person since they never met), and taught me to enjoy the hell out of every bite, whether it was a salad, a simple stew, a fancy gourmet dish, or a glorious bit of pastry.

    One of our favorite things to do together was hunt down good restaurants and eat out together. I well remember a fabulous little Russian place we both loved. It was famous for its pies, but neither of us ever ate a single slice there. Once we got done with a big bowl of pelmeni and broth, we were too enchanted with the last whispers of the flavor to spoil it with something else.

    But I saw clearly back in those days that I was thin, she was fat, and we were both eating the same thing most of the time.

    I think it helped me be at ease eating in public even when I became fat, because I knew my eating hadn’t changed significantly. I knew that – like much of my family on both sides – my body was simply destined to get fat.

    The gawking bastards can look all they like. For the last two decades and change, they’ve gotten a mild stare of curiosity in exchange. It’s been enough to make a few cheeks redden in embarrassment.

    BTW, speaking of food, I’m filling in for the next couple weeks at Manolo’s Food Blog (http://manolofood.com) while the lovely and fabulous raincoaster is off on a break. She’ll be back on the fourth, but in the meantime I’ll be sharing my kitchen wit and wisdom on a daily basis.

    I don’t usually self-promote on other peoples’ blogs, but I was hoping you wouldn’t mind. (flutters eyelashes sweetly at you)

  6. On June 23rd, 2011 at 11:27 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Twistie? You know I love the hell outta you and will gladly plug your blogging! <3

  7. On June 23rd, 2011 at 12:26 pm Twistie Says:

    And you know the feeling is entirely mutual, hon! Smooches!

  8. On June 23rd, 2011 at 3:34 pm DessertFirst Says:

    Love your post, and your blog. Have you read this? Very helpful and on-topic with your post:

    http://www.fatnutritionist.com/index.php/surprising-results-from-my-totally-unscientific-survey/

    Cheers!

  9. On June 24th, 2011 at 7:49 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Thank you! Yes, I love her blog, too!

  10. On June 23rd, 2011 at 10:28 pm Jay9 Says:

    Growing up in a Filipino family, any celebration means LOTS of FOOOOOOOD. I practically grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen (Spanish-Chinese grandma made THE best baked goods) and I learned how to cook for myself pretty early on, but didn’t put it into practice until I started living on my own.

    I actually didn’t like eating out while I was at University, since I really didn’t trust a cafeteria located in the same building and UNDER the biology labs *shudder* and the restaurants nearby were over-priced because they were the only ones around. I didn’t realize this until one day I was eating a cup of yakisoba and a friend stared at me and went “Oh my God, this is the first time I’ve ever seen you eat here at school.”

    I stopped and started thinking about it, and yes, that was one of the few times I ate at school. Not for reasons of shame, just I really didn’t like the food options

    Back to the Filipino bit, every time you go to a relative’s place for a celebration, the first thing you’ll hear would be “Have you eaten? Eat!” They are more concerned when you’re NOT eating something at a big party. That is a bigger insult to them, that the food isn’t good enough for you.

    As for any looks I got, growing up in Asia, I got looks because I was taller than most of the people around me at 5’7 (which I reached by the time I was 12), had distinctively non-Asian features (Lebanese being the most prominent ethnicity showing), so anyone looking at me for what I ate didn’t mean much. They could just shove it, I am going to enjoy my damn food 😀

  11. On June 24th, 2011 at 7:51 am Not Blue at All Says:

    I love Filipino food! What’s possibly strange is that I’ve never eaten at a Filipino restaurant, but used to work with many Filipinos who would bring in home cookin’! Best stuff around! Yum! Yeah, I can understand the school food offering being less than attractive in general, but under the bio lab? Yikes!!!
    You made something more clear to me, too: I get stared at no matter what I’m doing, why fret over it just when I’m eating?! Ha-ha! Thanks! =0)

  12. On June 24th, 2011 at 1:16 am Gina Says:

    “Looks of pity, looks of disgust”?

    I think you’re starting to figure out why your cafe hasn’t been successful…

  13. On June 24th, 2011 at 7:54 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Excuse me? I hope beyond all hope that you’re not suggesting that my body size is the reason my cafe isn’t “successful”?! I do have a very loyal following who adore me inside and out. What I offer is fantastic, but those looks I mentioned are generally from out of towners or uppity rich folk who aren’t used to being served by the owner of a restaurant. I get such an array of classes and people that it does seem to be the more well-off that treat me poorly. Funny that, eh?

  14. On June 24th, 2011 at 2:09 am Veronica Says:

    I usually feel weirder ordering a salad in restaurants than I feel ordering anything else. Because when I order a salad I think people are assuming I’m dieting, and dieting=not happy with my body, and me thinking that strangers think I’m insecure about my body makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I don”t really know if it’s logical for me to think they think I’m happy with my body if I order something else, other than that it’s been my experience that people usually think I’m pretty confident (I am! But I’m also a champion faker.), but that’s the way I felt. In the last period before I found FA I actually stopped eating salads in restaurants. So Fat Acceptance has given salads back to this fatty, betcha noone thinks that can be a consequence of FA.

    “Nothing tastes as good as a free mind feels!” is a great quote! I thought so the first time I read it too:)

  15. On June 24th, 2011 at 7:56 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Yes, salad = diet…NOT! I hate that that is a thing at all. Maybe because everywhere in CA has salads I don’t think this way, but I do get that many do. I just love crunchy veggies and don’t really care how they are arranged on a plate. That is funny that FA gave you salads back though. Makes me think of something I saw awhile back of pics of different women eating salads and laughing. Hilarious! Thank you!!! I didn’t realize how awesome that line of that poem was until I saw it quoted that same day. Wow! Thanks.

  16. On June 24th, 2011 at 4:26 am Kath Says:

    I still struggle with eating, even after all of this time. I am however a lot better than I was. But I still kind of “clam up” when it comes to eating in front of people I’m not comfortable with, and anyone scrutinising my eating can really make me shut down as well. I have to really work through it.

    One of the things that really bothers me with being a fat person who eats (I used to not eat much at all) is that some people feel that fat people shouldn’t eat. AT. ALL. I was once sitting in a cafe eating fruit salad and as an elderly couple walked past me the woman said “Ugh, people like that should just not eat.”

    Again, it boils down to the fact that fat stigma is never, ever about health. It’s about appearance, 100%.

  17. On June 24th, 2011 at 7:59 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Yes, Kath, I totally get that! And I get the opposite, too! Like, “Eat! Come on, here, eat this!” kind of thing even when I say I’ve already eaten or am not hungry. My mother in law wants to feed the world, so when I only eat a small meal I get seconds shoved at me sometimes. I love her dearly and not in the usual MIL ways, she’s fantastic, but yeah, the food thing!
    The worst for me was office parties! Ugh! The pressure! People would go on and on about what they couldn’t eat and then I would come say hi and they would like try to get me to eat that very thing. It’s bullshit! I would always say no, but I wasn’t confident enough at the time to do much else. Oh to go back! Ha-ha!

  18. On June 24th, 2011 at 7:28 pm Kath Says:

    Yup, I’ve had that one too, the old “Oh Kath will have some more, won’t you?” (Because Kath is fat, she must want to eat lots of food.)

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