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Feminism and Eating Problems

Posted Sep 14 2008 3:11pm

One of the things you must do to recover from an eating problem or disorder is to establish or take back power over your body. It is yours and no one else’s—not your mother’s, father’s, or spouse’s, and you need to understand this on a very deep level before you can move toward physical and emotional health. A book I read recently might help you reclaim what is rightfully yours. Written by Jessica Valenti, Full Frontal Feminism (Seal Press, CA, 2007) is aimed at assuring women that being a Feminist is a good thing for their own health and well-being. As I read it, I realized how being a Feminist could help women overcome eating and weight problems.

Feminism is defined as “belief in the social, political, and economic quality of the sexes.” Although that sounds like an abstract definition and is perhaps hard to connect to eating, think about it. If you believe that women aren’t as good as men and don’t deserve to be treated equally, what does that say about your body and who gets to make decisions about it? Who gets to decide how to feed or dress it? It’s fine to want to be attractive but, please, please yourself, because no man has the right to tell you how you should look or eat. None of them has the right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t put on your plate or in your mouth, what you should weigh, or how you should dress. Sure, they can give input—if asked. But that’s it.

If you’re a Feminist you believe you should go after power and success the same way men do. Feminism encourages you to avoid relying on looks and go out there and cultivate your talent and brains. You don’t need a perfect exterior to get what you want. Men don't have one, so why should you? Being a Feminist means that you expect to be treated as an adult, just like men do, whether at home or in the workplace. It means that in the social, economic, and political arenas you deserve and will insist on getting your fair share.

Feminism says that you won’t tolerate violence done to women and refuse to do violence to your own body by starving it to fashion thinness. It means that you won’t be some man’s idea of arm candy and stand for compromising your health because he wants you to be skinny as a rail. It means not allowing men to make sexist remarks about your (or anyone’s) body, even if it’s what you want to hear. It means defining yourself in any darned old way you please. Full Frontal Feminism tells it like it is and is lots of fun to read (it does use language quite freely). When you’re a Feminist, you want the best for yourself and make sure you get it! And, P.S., guys can be Feminists too.



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