As I sit in a coffee shop, happily sipping my full fat latte and tucking into a delicious slice of chocolate cake, I over hear a woman at the counter say to the barrista, “Can I have skinny milk please, I’ve already had a chocolate bar today so I need to make up for it.” I contemplate this need, as women, to explain our eating habits. To feel it is necessary to validate what we consume and almost apologise for it. Why do we feel the need to be apologetic to perfect strangers about what we eat?
I have always had a love/hate relationship with food, and perhaps it is that fact that I have never really held back on my eating that has caused me to have an eating disorder subsequent gastric band surgery to try and combat this. But I find it very disturbing that as women we sometimes feel we cannot order what we want, perhaps because we are fearful of what other people will think.
I remember being very self- conscious about eating in public. I worried what people would say about my food choices, that nobody wanted to see a fatty tucking in to food that was so evidently adding to my weight problems. I couldn’t just go out for a meal and enjoy it. People would be laughing at me…right? The more I worried about what I was eating, the more I thought about food and the more I thought about food, the hungrier I became and inevitably gave in to eating. Then I would feel bad about myself and comfort it. A vicious circle, one that I really couldn’t stop.
I also witnessed recently a woman paying for a packet of doughnuts at the check- out. She laughed nervously whilst stating to the check- out assistant, “Oh of course these doughnuts aren’t all for me, I am having friends round.” Now I can perfectly understand how she felt and why she wanted to explain herself, but why have we come to a place in the world where we can’t even buy a packet of food without justifying it to others? Even if she was planning to go home and scoff the whole lot in one go, would that really be such a bad thing to admit? Our lives our full of such unrealistic goals. We are bombarded with images of glamorous woman, who have amazing bodies, hair and faces. We feel like unless we live up to these images that we are somehow unworthy of our place in society. Now I am all for being healthy and eating food that is nutritional but the pressure that is put on us leads us to make unhealthy choices in the pursuit of the perfect body…a body that realistically doesn’t exist. Diet pills, shakes, boot camps, juicing retreats. All of these dangerous aids to help us look like the women on the pages of magazines. Women that are probably airbrushed.
I want the world to embrace women and men as the healthy beings that they can be. Beings who can eat junk food in moderation and then join in a fun dance class to feel fitter. I don’t want to be a part of a society where we feel the need to apologise for our eating habits, to feel self- conscious when eating in public, to worry about the potential scorn from others.