Kim Cattrall recently made news by saying she’s been on a diet since 1974. Websites, blogs and tabloids have been heralding that quote with lots of exclamation points and smiley faces, as if being obsessed with your food intake for cosmetic reasons for 39 years is a huge accomplishment. That does not impress me – in fact, it makes me sad. Just think of all of the food she has wanted to eat, but decided she was too fat for. That this fat shaming happened in her life is upsetting. That this fat shaming is lauded as some marvelous achievement is disgusting, especially considering that the daily battle with food is fought by women everywhere.
The other day, a friend at work went to lunch and brought back a huge bowl of cookies. I was stuffing peanut butter cookie number two into my face when she saw me and said, “I bet you love me and hate me right now.”
I’m usually pretty good at reading social cues, but I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. She repeated her sentence again, and after I stared at her dumbfounded for the second time, she spelled it out for me. ”You must hate me,” she said, “because I brought the cookies.”
This, friends, is a cultural phenomenon that confounds me. In Los Angeles specifically, and the whole of America more generally, we are confronted again and again with the universal understanding that women need to be ashamed of wanting to eat food.
It’s so terrible to eat cookies (or ice cream or hamburger buns or, God forbid, white rice) that you can’t even admit that you like them – in fact, you have to hate the person who put them in front of you, because you just can’t help yourself, you sugary, carb-y, disgusting glutton.
To this, I say: hell no. Cookies are effing delicious. Baguettes are the stuff of life. If I want mashed potatoes, I’m going to eat some goddamn mashed potatoes. You can save the pureed cauliflower mashed potato substitute for when I run out of potatoes and cookies and bread (i.e. never).
I do, on occasion, eat green leafy vegetables and vitamin-rich fruits. It’s not always a carbohydrate free-for-all over here. However, I despise this bizarre cultural preoccupation with restricted eating and ritual self-shaming over food. All food, in moderation, is delicious.
The only times in my entire life I have been unhappy with the shape of my body is when I have been contemplating putting it on display for other people, like in a bathing suit in the summer or in a fancy dress for my wedding. There has never been a time when my husband has looked at me and mentioned that maybe I should stop eating so many dinner rolls. In fact, he thinks I’m really super attractive, because he loves me (and is contractually obligated). (He may also be a pathological liar, though, because he thinks I look my best when I wake up with eyeliner all over my face and hair matted to the back of my head.)
I learned long ago, when my skin was out of control and I felt like an alien in my own body, that the people who love you don’t care what you look like. The people who are going to love you don’t care what you look like. And the people who care what you look like don’t deserve your love. Full stop.
This is not just a genius quote I should slap on a sunset photo and pin to Pinterest. It is a functional life philosophy. I’ve found that keeping your personal health and wellness as the focus of your relationships helps you weed out the assholes faster. And this world has a lot of assholes, so we need all the help we can get.