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Body Fascism: Why I Hate Food

Posted Apr 20 2010 1:57pm

I'm just going to warn you straight out. This post is crazy. And if you are one of those people who gets crazy reading about my crazy then you probably want to skip all the crazy and go straight to your therapist (do not pass Go, do not collect 200 xanax). Which is where I would be venting this nonsense if she hadn't abandoned me for the prison system (sure, like people in prison need excellent therapists... oh, um, right.)

I hate food.

If there was a pill that I could take every day and never have to deal with eating actual comestibles (note to self: now there's a fun word that doesn't get used nearly enough!), I would take it in a heart beat and never look back.

Hunger feels like failure to me. (Which is probably the stupidest sentence I've ever written - and I'm the same girl who once wrote a 600 word post for a celeb site I can't name about how Michelle William's blousy shirt made her look pregnant. Newsflash: blousy shirts make all of us look pregnant. And I'm wearing one right now. Nope, not pregnant, just ate a huge lunch. Which brings me back to my point thereby negating the necessity of these parentheses.) Despite the fact that every human being on the planet gets hungry at least several times a day and it is a natural biological signal necessary for survival, I still feel like if I just had enough self mastery I would never get hungry. And if I never got hungry then I would never be held hostage by my growling tummy, staring down an unholy array of foods while mentally cataloging the nutritional pros and cons of each.

In the past I've dealt with this "paralysis by analysis" by just not eating. Going to bed with the growlies was preferable to trying to figure out if the organic chicken or non-organic tempeh was the lesser evil. (But one's an animal product and I don't eat animals! But the other one's soy and soy gives me gas that clears a room faster than a wrapping paper fund raiser!) Nursing the ever ravenous Jelly Bean has, understandably, removed this option. Along with the fact that Lamaze breathing does zilch for labor pain, something else they never tell you in childbirth class is that lactating will make many of us as hungry as a popgut at a picnic. Hunger, when your boobs are responsible for feeding an exponentially growing human being, feels like a true emergency. I don't care how many times Judith Beck tells me hunger is not an emergency, it still feels like code red.

So, unable to decide what an appropriate meal and caloric allotment should be, I procrastinate eating until I can't put it off any more and then - because I'm so hungry - I eat something truly crappy. Like jelly beans. And as soon as I eat it, the guilt sets in. Really, it doesn't need to be jelly beans or some other junk food to induce guilt. I feel guilty after eating raw spinach. I feel guilty after eating. Period. Allow 15 minutes or so for the sugar high to wear off and the guilt to peak and then the cycle starts all over again.

I am so tired of this cycle. I am so tired of caring what the scale says every morning. I'm so tired of reading nutritional labels like they're the secret to world peace. I'm so tired of getting enthused about some new weight loss plan/tip/trick/non-diet/etc. and then realizing after I've invested time, money and energy into it that there is no one-shot cure. I'm so tired of wanting to shake anyone who tells me I look good and scream at them, "Can't you see how ugly I am?!?" (I'm like one of those sad drunks at parties. But without the drunk. Or the party.) I'm so tired of crying my eyes out (in the original draft of this post I wrote "me eyes" - which if I'm going to be crazy, an Irish accent would be awesome, no?) over pants that don't fit, shirts that don't button and the weird fact that despite my feet not growing a centimeter bigger during my first four pregnancies, they seem to have enlarged by at least half a size from number five thereby making my lovely shoe collection painfully obsolete. (On second thought, that last one totally justifies a few tears.)

But mostly I'm tired of believing that if I just weighed XXX, I'd be happy.

I may be nutso - a fact I freely admit - but even I know that that isn't true. Happiness is a choice. And every day I am choosing to make myself miserable over something so inconsequential as to be embarrassing. It makes me angry. How did I ever buy into this fallacy that I am my pants size? Who was the first person to tell me that I wasn't good enough? And why did I ever believe them? And most importantly, if I can choose to believe this crap, can I just choose to unbelieve it? Can it possibly be that simple?

I have a daughter. A glorious, beautiful, perfect-just-as-she-is-even-though-she-chronically-reeks-like-barf baby girl. And I am her touchstone. No matter where we are, when anything novel happens her first instinct is to look at me. When her eyes lock on mine, I know what she's doing. She's reading me. If I'm scared, then she is too. If I'm happy and unconcerned than so is she. This trust. This responsibility. It's so overwhelming; I don't feel worthy. And yet it's a gift to see myself through her eyes. To her I am the most beautiful creature in the world.

Can a mother who has a "complicated" relationship with food have a daughter who doesn't? I'm not the only one asking that question. And yet none of us have answers. Our culture has been overtaken with a mass delusion my friend Dr. Jon calls "body fascism." In an e-mail response to my post about Jessica Simpson he wrote, "I doubt it's an original combination, but this preoccupation with image in our mad little world has many of the hallmarks of Nazi-like intolerance and bigotry. We've become obsessed with "ideals" to the rejection of common sense, leading to stereotyping and stupid intolerance, and to an eating-disordered world . Malnutrition isn't just about starvation, it's eating too much of the wrong things as well, and living without balance . Body Fascism rules - Sieg Hiel!"

I asked before if the solution was as simple as just choosing not to believe the thousands of negative messages I'm bombarded with on a daily basis. I think it might be. Unfortunately simple doesn't mean easy.

I've asked you all before how to reconcile my need to eat with hatred of food. And I apologize for not listening when you shared all your secrets with me before. What is the answer? Therapy? Intuitive eating? A frontal lobotomy? Have you managed to change your relationship with food for the better? Please please tell me again. I'm listening this time.

If there was a pill that could totally replace eating, would you take it?
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