Last night while feeling particularly chatty, I shared with Ed some insight into a fat girl’s relationship with food.
Our very small social circle is going to SSI next weekend to celebrate Renee’s birthday, and we’ve planned out a shared schedule of cooking so we don’t need to leave the property while we’re there. I’m making my lazy Al Pastor tacos on Friday night, and bringing Ultimate Hot Dogs to cook over the fire pit on Saturday night along with caramel apples for dessert (both from Next Gen Concessions whom I cannot recommend enough if you’re in the Lower Mainland). I’m excited about a half dozen things: travel! seeing our friends! a ferry ride! showering Renee with festivities! FOOD! I’m excited for tacos and hot dogs and caramel apples like you wouldn’t believe!
And I feel totally guilty about it, because as a fat girl, I feel like I shouldn’t be excited about food. “Of course you’re excited about food, you human whale” my inside voice whispers. “All you think about is food.”
So, to counter this guilt, I start justifying. It’s a celebration. I’m not eating all of those things at once. I’m not going to eat 15 tacos and 4 hot dogs and 8 caramel apples. I’ll behave and eat an appropriate amount over the weekend, then not eat much over the following week to make up for it. Then it’ll be okay that I ate the things I’m shamefully looking forward to. And I’m only looking forward to food-related things because there have been no adventures or travel or friend time to get excited about. It’s not because I’m a huge gluttonous pig, it’s just the apocalypse.
This is obviously a massive amount of bullshit, and I can look past the meanest of my inside voices – but this is a battle I have with myself all the time. It’s not even guilt about eating the food, but over being excited about food. As a fat girl, of course I’m motivated by food. Herf derf, fatty wants a taco hot dog. Look at her waddle.
Ed has never had this kind of relationship with food, and was startled to hear my well-seasoned thoughts. He would never think to feel guilty about eating food or being excited for a meal, because no one judges him for it. He’s never had his groceries scanned with a sneer, or been given that look when ordering a large amount of food. Gonna eat all that yourself, fatty? Maybe you should eat a salad. A Diet Coke with your burger and fries? lol it figures.
Then I dropped another bomb on him: I’m extremely conscious about what I’m going to name our next cat. I’ve had four cats with food-related names, and even though I’ve thought of some adorable names for potential kitties, I will not name anyone else after food because I don’t want to be perceived as someone who only thinks about eating.
It’s not just food, either. I actively avoid things depicting large animals – while I don’t wear t-shirts at all, you’ll never catch me in something with a whale or elephant on it. Follow the trains of thought above and I’m sure you can figure out why.
I wasn’t sad or emotional when sharing any of this with Ed, because it’s not anything deserving of emotion – it’s just my reality. It’s entirely possible that no one is thinking these awful things except me, but I’ll still do everything I can to avoid giving anyone a reason to think these things. And people have thought these things, and have said as much (and much worse) to me. A smirk when taking my order. Actually questioning my drink request (“that’s a lot of sugar, are you sure you want that?”). Comments about my grocery cart. These things happen – not all the time, but they do happen. And you never forget it when they do. And you never shake off that awful shame, even when the other person is being impossibly rude. And it never goes away, and it seeps into every aspect of your life. I don’t post or talk a lot about food, because I don’t want people to think all I do is eat.
It was an interest conversation, and then I played some Animal Crossing. I don’t think I had fully realized my own complicated feelings about food and the perception of others, but once it was all out, a lot of stuff made more sense in a twisted sort of way. I’d like to stop having this guilt, but it’s so deeply ingrained that it doesn’t feel like guilt – just regular everyday actions I take to avoid that rush of shame.
It’s fucked up, is what it is.
But I’m still really excited about tacos and hot dogs.