‘I had a very weird and bad attitude towards food, where food represented anything other than just fuel. To me, food was parents. Food was love. Food was rebellion. Food was self-hatred. Food was congratulations. It was anything but nutrition. It was all these symbolic things to me.’
(on detaching feelings around food).
I read the above quote recently and it really resonated with me. I too have felt the familiarity of viewing food as all of the things that it’s not- as a ‘comfort’ thing. Not ‘comfort’ as in eating lots of food to feel better about myself, but more so as in not eating food to feel better about myself. Because, for some reason, it is when I am restricting what I put into my body that I feel most confident, when I am essentially starving myself that I feel most ‘in control’ (ironic, when it is at this point that any control that I did have is gone)…
With food having become so heavily loaded with meaning, I am left wondering…
We know that we need food to live- if we do not eat, we do not live. It’s necessary for our survival so yes, food is incredibly important. But, it’s important for our survival, not for anything else. And yet, food has become something that is seen as being infinitely more complicated than that. It doesn’t just sustain us, it nourishes us, it soothes us, it excites us, it disgusts us, it lures is, it teases us, and, with all of that, it controls us.
Read that again.
‘It controls us…’
We might think that, by restricting what we eat, we are in control, using food and eating as a manifestation of power, but, we are not in control. We are simply using it (food) as a self-soothing replacement for what we are truly in search of in life (connection, a sense of purpose, inspiration, creativity, etc.), none of which we will ever be able to satisfy our desire for by controlling what we eat…
I truly believe that the reason why eating disorders so disproportionately effect women is because, although the sense of control food gives us isn’t real, it can certainly feel real, particularly when the external aspects of life are seemingly so out of our control. Eating disorders are therefore prone to manifesting in highly charged, emotional situations where an external sense of power is lacking or threatened, in an attempt to assume some sense of internal control. Women may therefore use food as a form of ‘feminist empowerment’- displaying agency over their body as a means of raising consciousness and almost as a sort of ‘symbolic revolt.’ Because, in a world where men are still, in so many ways, seen as the ‘superior’ sex and women as second-class citizens, feeling in control of something, even if that ‘something’ is illusory, is a welcome distraction from the harsh reality of what we still find ourselves ‘stuck’ within- an incredibly patriarchal, misogynistic, even, society…
The problem is, however, that we are feeding into the sustenance of such a society. Every time we buy into that new diet, every time we hand our hard-earned money over for those shakes and pills, we are, unknowingly, lining the pockets of the very people who are controlling us. How so? Because, whole industries are built around women hating themselves, and the CEO’s of all the big players in these industries? Men. Powerful men who want us to feel inferior indefinitely so as not to threaten their long held position as the ‘superior’ sex in society…
The only way that we can revolt against this patriarchy and misogyny, is by reminding ourselves of our ‘enoughness’-
reminding ourselves that…
We are enough now, exactly as we are/
that, we are completely enough, and never ever too much…
Our potential is too great to waste (literally),
wasting ourselves away believing in, what is an ultimately laughable narrative that men have devised for women…
We don’t need to control what we eat (or don’t eat) to be worthy of feeling ‘powerful.’
We already are powerful.
We already are in control*
*(at least, when we’re not restricting or bingeing food we are).
Approach every situation with this confidence, and you will smash it*
*(‘it‘ being patriarchy and misogyny)
as, subservient no more,
you- we– will rise up-
in a constant state of becoming,
in a constant state of remembering that…
It’s just a f*cking burger!!