The strangeness of food

April 5, 2010

Food and eating and weight and nutrition are such strange things to us and land in such a strange place in our culture. It is not uncommon to hear conversations where one party spends time belittling the food, eating, weight, and/or nutrition of another. Things like…
Why are you eating so many carbs?
Why don’t you do yourself a favor and get fruit instead of a bagel?
You need more protein, but not bacon.
Don’t complain about your weight then eat a bunch of carbs.

This is all taken from three conversations I’ve heard while reading the times and harvesting my farmville crops this morning here in Pearlstone. Why is that okay?

Let’s preform a bit of a test. Here’s two sets of phrases.
Batch 1:
You’re too stressed out, you should relax tonight.
Take a nap today, please, you’ve been awake for two days.
Why won’t you go to the health center if you’ve felt like shit all week?

Batch 2:
Why would you be religious when you know all religion is idiotic?
That shirt is very ugly.
If you aren’t going to wear make-up, then don’t complain about not getting laid.

Now, which batch seems more like the example quotes?
Okay, it’s not a perfect test, but it seems to me like there is a distinct difference in inquiring about a friend’s health and belittling their choices. The sad thing about eating, food, weight, and nutrition is that it falls under the guise of health concern. But it’s not, is it? Not usually anyway. Not here. It’s about beauty and standards of appearance.

It would not be okay for me to approach a friend and mock parts of their identity with total sincerity. Of course friends disagree with each other, but there is a difference in disagreeing and judging. Also, weight has serious stigma in our culture. To be fat is to be ugly, lazy, stupid, undesirable, pathetic, etc. so maybe it’s extremely hurtful to criticize our friend’s eating.

Food and eating are such strange creatures in our culture.


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