Let Her Eat Cake! Breaking Free From Private Gorging

In our second guest post for The Current Conscience, we present the work of Melanie Klein. In this piece, Klein explores the relationship women have with food, especially the negative perception of a woman eating exactly what she wants to eat (in public). By recounting her own experiences with eating, Klein shows a fiery refusal to fall victim to the practice of eating behind closed doors.

“Are you sure you’re not hungry?” he asked with grave concern as chicken grease ran down his fingers and his chin. We’d just finished a rigorous hike and I was starving—famished, ravenous and slightly light-headed.

I mean, really, we’d been cavorting, frolicking and climbing the local mountains in the summer heat for over 6 hours and I hadn’t eaten anything except for an apple. Maybe.

“Oh, no, I’m fine,” I replied. He paused mid-bite and questioned me with raised eyebrows.

“I’m good–really,” I said, sounding far too relaxed and nonchalant about something as serious as a meal after physically exerting myself as excessively as I had. But, nope, I wouldn’t change my mind. I was not going to let him see me eat, especially a greasy, messy meal like that. Mind you, this is the same guy I wouldn’t take a pee around. I’d turn the faucet on when I had to go really bad to make sure he didn’t hear me, otherwise I’d hold it until I got home. I know I wasn’t the only 17-year-old girl to pull a stunt like that.

If there was anything I’d learned up to that point, it was that girls and women don’t have bodily functions or odors (unless they’re created in chemical factories and mask your natural female body smells), and they aren’t supposed to be seen eating (unless it’s yogurt, salad or other “girl” food) or sweating (unless they’re sweating like women should—hello, female antiperspirant industry).

Fast forward to 15 years later:

“Are you going to eat that?” the student I had been mentoring asked with nervous excitement.

“Yes,” I said, awaiting the sweet taste of carrot cake as my fork hovered close to my lips.

“In public?” she continued.

“Um, where else should I eat it? In the bathroom or the broom closet?” I laughed as I sank my teeth into the cream cheese frosting knowing perfectly well that those were considered viable options, ones preferred over this scenario—that of a woman eating cake out in public in broad daylight. I’m talking a slice of cake, not a bite of cake and not an entire cake. A slice of cake. On a Tuesday at 1 in the afternoon. There was no special occasion. I simply wanted some cake and I felt no shame or remorse about it. Shame and guilt had led me to stuff myself in private after starving myself publicly one too many times in the past.

“Wow. I admire you. I wish I could do that,” she said slowly. I asked her what was stopping her and she went on to tell me about her mother, a woman who kept a scale in the dining room so she could look at it while she ate dinner and remind herself not to eat too much. And when it came to cake? Well, her mother always cut much smaller slices for the girls and reserved the big frosted pieces for the boys at the family party.

We continued to have lunch on campus between classes with a few other students for several weeks, and each time, I’d enjoy something sweet without embarrassment or great fanfare on my end.

One day she sat down and said, “I have to tell you something.”

She giggled like someone about to dish a shameful secret, “I went to my cousin’s birthday party over the weekend and when my mom handed me a thin slice of cake on a paper plate, I told her that I wanted a big one. She looked at me with surprise as I put the plate she handed me back on the table and grabbed one of the large slices. I felt great.”
________________________________________________________________

Melanie Klein is an Associate Faculty member at Santa Monica College teaching Sociology and Women’s Studies, speaker and writer. You may follow her on Twitter, join her on Facebook, and read more of her work on her blog Feminist Fatale.

Originally created for Proud2Bme, posted at Adios Barbie and cross-posted with permission.

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43 Responses to “Let Her Eat Cake! Breaking Free From Private Gorging”

  1. Avatar of Jasmin Hiekali
    Jasmin Hiekali May 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Reading this story make a upset and started picturing times where I was ashamed of eating in front of people. However, my concern about eating in front of people would be the way I eat the good not exactly what the food is that I am eating. But there has been many times where I would just constantly eat without stopping. Right after I finished my dinner I would want to eat something sweet so I would go to the cabinet and look for a piece of chocolate candy or any store bought cookie. I would be so ashamed of eating right after each other that I would go do what this lady in the article did, I would go somewhere else eat the cookie or chocolate and return where the rest of my family was. I know I was nothing close to being over weight, but I cared so much of what my family would think I didn’t wan to risk hearing the criticism. After reading this story, I will make myself eat in front of people and not be ashamed of how much I eat especially since I am a teenager and my metabolism can handle it and needs the calories.

  2. Avatar of nedam
    nedam December 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    I can really relate to this article. For the years that I was with my boyfriend at the time, we never had home cooked meals. We always ate out. There were times where I didn’t eat all day but I would just order something small because I didn’t want my boyfriend to think I was a fatass. I didn’t want him to see my gorge down a hamburger even though I’ve done it a million times, even in front of some guy friends, but when it came to him I didn’t want to eat like a “fatass”. He ate whatever he wanted and how much he wanted. I never thought twice or judged him but I knew that he would see me as indulging myself when I didn’t need to. There were absolute times when he needed insisted on me coming to the gym with him because “he felt I needed too”. Surprisingly there was even in incident where we just had move in together and I went to use the restroom. I came out and he said, “Next time turn on the facet because I don’t want to hear you pee.” I was baffled. How can the person I love tell me this when there were numerous amounts of times were he was urinated in public in front of me and has also used the restroom and I could clearly hear his stream. Thankfully, I am no longer with him but because of him I am no longer caring in how anyone interprets me eating or me doing a natural thing of urinating.

  3. Avatar of Danny-S
    Danny-S November 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    Well i think that women should really start stop thinking about their weight and eating problems. Because we all have to eat and it is recommened to eat 3 times a day so that you can be healthy and wont catch anemia or any type of other tragic diseases that could hurt you and your body for eating wrong, poorly, and unhealthy. Just because you feel overweight or unhealthy doesnt mean that you have to starve yourself throught the day to look and feel good about yourself because you probably wont lose any pounds with that poor dieting. And also me as example of this similar issue, when i was trying to lose wait really bad at a point i would be at the gym all day long working out really hard and didnt eat as much and did lose some wait, but i had noticed that when i had stopped working out and just ate what ever i had desired i had also lost weight, and i actually weighed less then when i was working out and eating carefully. So i really think that women should just live their lifes and stop caring about how much they weight and how much they have to excercise to look good because that could be their overall downfall losing weight.

  4. Avatar of Danny-S
    Danny-S November 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    Well i think that women should really start stop thinking about their weight and eating problems. Because we all have to eat and it is recommened to eat 3 times a day so that you can be healthy and wont catch anemia or any type of other tragic diseases that could hurt you and your body for eating wrong, poorly, and unhealthy. Just because you feel overweight or unhealthy doesnt mean that you have to starve yourself throught the day to look and feel good about yourself because you probably wont lose any pounds with that poor dieting. And also me as example of this similar issue, when i was trying to lose wait really bad at a point i would be at the gym all day long working out really hard and didnt eat as much and did lose some wait, but i had noticed that when i had stopped working out and just ate what ever i had desired i had also lost weight, and i actually weighed less then when i was working out and eating carefully. So i really think that women should just live their lifes and stop caring about how much they weight and how much they have to excercise to look good because that could be their overall downfall losing weight.

  5. Avatar of flux
    flux December 20, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    I find some of the comments here highlight crux of the problem even though they agree this is an issue. Our collective response should be, “eat what you want” without the qualifying, “but not too much.”

  6. Avatar of Holly N.
    Holly N. December 15, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    I briefly (quite briefly, mind you) had this problem in my high school years. I would go to school, do my work, be a part of the color guard, and when lunchtime came around, I tried to find the healthy and small lunch that a pretty, skinny girl would eat. Now I know I was not hideously overweight, but I had a body image problem when it came to my figure. I was nearly six feet tall and had a decent amount of muscle, but I felt that I was just bigger than my classmates and felt that no guy would be attracted to me if I was such a big girl. So come lunchtime, I would pick out one small entree, maybe a bag of carrots, and a bottle of water. For a growing girl who also took part in after school activities, this was NOT enough. After this period of “weight watching”, I decided, “Aw f#%@ it”, and went straight for the pizza, tea, carrots, and a cookie. Maybe I should have watched my portion control, but good food should be eaten no matter who is watching. Today, I gladly eat good food in front of people. I work hard for it and I deserve it.

  7. Avatar of Ingrid V
    Ingrid V December 14, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    I can most definitely relate to this article. With my now fiancee which i have been with for 6 years, when we use to go out t dinner or lunch i would always order a salad no matter how hungry i might have been or where we went. Also i would eat a very small portion, embarrassed that he may think i ate too much. I learned through time though that i had nothing to be ashamed of because i have the right to eat what i want and satisfy my hunger. WHy should i have to suffer from hinger while my significant other can eat all and anything that he may want. I think that may young women face this but yet many of us do not have the courage to take a stand and eat that delicious slice of cake in public but we all should.

  8. Avatar of ernesto10
    ernesto10 December 14, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    I feel that everyone has the right to eat what they want, but if you know you are at risk of getting sick you should consider to stop eating a lot. A person does their job to ask them to stop and if they don’t listen it’s on them now. They will suffer the consequences later on in the future. To everyone in the world healthy is the way to be and not overweight or anorexic.

  9. Avatar of AFOLABI O
    AFOLABI O December 14, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    At first i used to think my female friends where weird when i see them count calories, or not eat when we both have not eaten for couple of hours, just because of the fear of weight gain, and not fitting in into their stereotypical believe of what a girl is meant to look like. I think its sad i feel bad for my little sister that will have to grow up in this kind of society that that she has to go hungry to look good. i will make sure to instill the fact that she can eat what she want and just makes sure she exercise daily and stay healthy and not anorexic. To all the ladies on here and in the world, EAT ONN, and stay Healthy.

  10. Avatar of Ebony1015
    Ebony1015 December 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    My little sister who just entered high school feels the exact same way this student felt. She always makes little remarks about how she envy’s the way I can eat anything I want while she has to watch everything she eats or else she will gain a pound. I personally find it dramatic, however it is a serious issue to her. I try explaining that a slice of cake will not affect her that quickly as long as she works out and does not over do it. Regardless of anything I say to try to make her understand that she should balance out what she eats and the amount of exercise she does daily. My younger sister is going through her high school stage where she HAS to fit in but she will eventually realize this way of eating is not healthy. I believe this article will really help my younger sister realize that she is not the only young adult who feels this way. Hopefully she will eventually come to the realization that she can have a slice of cake in public.

  11. Avatar of wendy
    wendy December 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Wendy V

    I was in a 9 year relationship and I remember when I started dating my ex, I was so embarrassed to look at him in the face, make eye contact, and especially eat in front of him. I would see him eat all kind of delicious foods but I could not do the same in front of him. The only thing that I allowed him to see me eat was candy. In addition to that, I was a type of girl that wasn’t comfortable to eat in public. If I was around friends, I would make the excuse saying that I wasn’t hungry. As I entered college and learned more about women studies, I began to do things differently and learned that it’s ok to eat in public and that women are humans too, we also need to eat!!!! It took me a while to get comfortable with myself but I have learned to accept the fact that beauty is not just being thin.. “REAL WOMAN HAVE CURVES”

  12. Avatar of as1210
    as1210 December 14, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    I enjoyed reading this story a lot becuase I know a lot of women can relate to it. Even now I feel uncomfortable at times eating. To me its not necessarily the food but the size. I feel that I need to stop eating at a certain point. My friend and I always go out and eat and he either has a small stomach or something because he never finishes his food and he eats like half or less of his plate. He always gets full so quick and I hated that becuase then i felt that I need to stop eating or hurry up. Until one day I said to him that if he finished early i didn’t care because I was going to finish my food. Before I didn’t know why I stopped eating, I just did and thouhgt it was the right thing to do. I don’t even know where I learned to act that way. It was like a norm. I feel that culture has a lot to do the way we think and this could be a primary factor in this effect.

  13. Avatar of bahar
    bahar December 14, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    Bahareh B.
    This topic that you discuss has always been a thought in the back of my mind that although i am a

    girl and have experienced, but never really had the answer to. I think that most women “front”

    when coming to eating and the consumption of food they consume in front of men, especially the

    one’s they are physically into. Ive always been very confident in how much i eat (which is a lot)

    mainly because i always had my size to justify that the amount of food i consumed in front of a guy

    didn’t matter because i was “skinny enough”. Although i believe men love women who can take a

    big bite out of a juicy burger in front of them because it shows they are confident in themselves. I

    also believe that because the idea that women who eat little in front of men is always because they

    are shy is also bs. There are many times where women who are not concerned with what they eat

    and the amount of it, just simply aren’t hungry, but yet get attached to this stereotype. While it is

    important to watch the food you consume in making sure your making healthy choices, i think its

    very feminine and sexy of a women to indulge more than once in a while, and especially in front of

    men.

  14. Avatar of Christian S
    Christian S December 13, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    It is truly unfortunate that young women feel pressured by society to adhere to certain ways of doing things or to avoid doing things based on what perceptions might be. Women are under so much pressure to look a certain way that they endanger themselves by partaking in things like not eating in public then binging afterwards. As a man I have never had to face this type of scrutiny but am aware of it’s unfairness and it’s oppressive nature. Women should feel free to eat whatever they want whenever they want with absolutely no remorse.

  15. Avatar of jennyceja
    jennyceja December 13, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    This article was not only funny but very thought provoking. It is amazing the things we women do to try and fit in with “mainstream beauty.” I can definitely relate to this because growing up I was always reminded that a women is to eat healthy in order to stay in shape. This article really reminded me of my godmother. She is a women who has always been concerned about her weight/appearance. When in public she will only eat salads, white meat etc. She makes sure to eat decent portions… so it seems. That is because behind closed doors it is a different story. When she is out of the public eye she will be caught eating sweets she always told me not to touch. I really enjoyed reading this article.

  16. Avatar of Frankvall31
    Frankvall31 December 13, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Unfortunately, This happens to a lot of girls now a days. They think that they shouldn’t be eating anything in front of people. Just to keep that image of them being thin. Many mothers actually agree with that statement. They believe that woman shouldn’t be eating anything greasy, or fattening in front of people, because all it makes them look like is unattractive, or fat. They should be there for their kids, not lowering there self esteem.

  17. Avatar of Michael R
    Michael R December 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    In High school I was considerably overweight and connect with this article on many levels. When you talk about how you felt ashamed to eat certain foods and how you feel like you must hide certain actions in front of certain people in an attempt to not look embarrassed or judged. I too saw an issue with how I was treating eating and decided to fix it. It is very touching hearing that you were able to free one of your students as well from the annoying urge to restrict oneself from enjoying something they will enjoy. I am sure she will forever remember that and be thankful for it.

    -Michael Ryan

  18. Avatar of Berenice V
    Berenice V December 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    It is a pity that the normative “lady-like” stereotype constrains many women to peculiar eating habits such as counting calories, measuring portions, even starving due to not making a bad impression when in the public view. I have a couple of guy friends who make fun of my eating habits, insinuating that I have a man’s sort of appetite and that I can last when eating with them. Sometimes I take it as a compliment, but sometimes as an insult. Just because I am petite it does not mean I do not like to eat or that if I do eat big portions does it depict that I am a food lover. I can see why many women have eating and psychological disorders if they are unable to express themselves in such a natural function which is eating. I am personally guilty of maybe twice ordering a salad or a light meal when on a date, but then I realized that it was silly of me to do so. Nowadays I order and eat what I want, if the guy or who ever is around me critiques me I do not let it affect me because in the end food makes me happy and I feel no shame towards doing something that fulfills my needs By restricting ourselves we are not only hurting ourselves physically, but psychologically. My younger cousin who is 13 years old constantly works out after she feel she ate a big meal because she fears of gaining weight. I blame the media, the magazines she reads that reinforce a fallacious image of beauty. Her main worries should be school, yet she is worrying about gaining a pound. It is saddening to see girls at such a young age developing eating disorders. I rather have an extra couple of pounds than to suffer headaches from being malnourished just so I can fit in those size 3 jeans or that small dress.

  19. Avatar of JosephEscobar
    JosephEscobar December 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    People need to be ‘themselves’ and feel comfortable in their own skin, and I love that she went for the bigger slice of cake, it expresses her individuality does exist after all. I believe that people should watch what they eat as an overall to keep a healthy lifestyle, but to be dramatic or extreme is a little too much. Everyone should feel comfortable eating whatever they want in public; I also believe that it isn’t bad to remind someone about bad eating habits, sometimes it’s in my nature to say something because I am a health major. You see the same behaviors within the gay community as well, where diets are put to the extreme and sometime to unhealthy levels. Great article!

  20. Avatar of Toni-Rose Mamaril
    Toni-Rose Mamaril December 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    It reminds me of 2 scenes from Mean Girls: 1.) when Lindsay’s character around the beginning of the movie started eating in the bathroom and [also seen towards the end] & 2.) When Rachel’s character talks about “losing 3 lbs” while drinking cocktail juice. It hard to believe that this still goes on today in the 21st century; you’d think w/ all the proper health education people would understand the difference between eating HEALTHY and NOT EATING at all. There’s no crime in having a nice fair slice of cake or even having a scrumptious burrito in public eye. It’s about portions: You can’t have too much of everything [in terms of food], of course there’s got to be a limit. Issues like this are very common in high school, middle school and even to elementary [nowadays] thanks to the fallacious crap the media often imposes on people. Congrats to the student for taking a big step. Remember people: There’s no crime in having something delishh… like a good piece of pie once in a while. Tt’s not like you’re eating it everyday, know what I mean?

  21. Avatar of Nadia S
    Nadia S December 13, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    You hit the jackpot with this post. I used to be that way. I was afraid of what people woiuld say or think if I would have some fatty foods, instead I would just stick to a salad which I couldn’t stand. Just a couple of years ago I finally snapped out of this non-sense and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to do that anymore. After being called “fat” & “closet eater” I realized I had to stop being the person I really wasn’t. I have no shame, I love food. At times I still get teased about being a “closet eater”, all I say is ” would you like to join me”.

  22. Avatar of Karina M
    Karina M December 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    I am glad your friend took a stand and chose to eat what she wanted in spite of what others might have thought.Just by showing her that eating what you want, whenever you want inspired her to take charge of her life and not worry about what othesr might think. Now, because of your influence she will be able to spread that same inspiration to other women.

  23. Avatar of Maricela P
    Maricela P December 13, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Love this! As I was reading this it took me down memory lane. I stopped eating in public in the sixth grade and continued until I started college. I have always struggled with my body image and thought the best way to deal with these issues was starvation. I did not want my peers to think or say any negative about me. After confiding in my best friend and sister, I received help and while I am not the “ideal” size, I am comfortable in my own skin. I still have my ups and downs but I no longer wonder what people around me think.

  24. Avatar of erinharris
    erinharris December 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Personally I have for sure felt this way in public. Mostly because I am not sure how to eat in front of either clients or really important people. I am not a slob, but I can still remember my mother saying, “Whenever you are in front of important people, like daddy’s bosses you only fill up half your spoon.” Now I have never been one to inhale my food when I eat, but I don’t think that eating “normally” is only filling half your spoon up with food. I also feel uncomfortable when I eat in front of my boyfriends or soon to be boyfriends. I shouldn’t half to eat differently in front of them. I don’t eat a crazy amount of food when I go home and am alone, I just don’t eat when I am in front of people. The fact that people think this way is really disturbing, but I do the same things. I am not sure if its because I am embarrassed or its just something you aren’t suppose to do. I am really glad to read that this girl was comfortable enough to eat a whole piece of cake in front of people after undergoing what she went through. But then a question comes to mind, how many people are in this mind set? The sister was surprised to see her eating a piece of cake in public. How many ore people think this way?

  25. Avatar of alyssar
    alyssar December 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    I thought it was a great article, it is so true young girls are not able to eat what they want in fear of rejection. They feel that they will be looked at differently by boys or even they’re own mother. I know for me weight has been a major issue for me growing up and still is. I am an athlete and work out everyday and still not able to eat what I want because of my body type and I know that if I eat what I want I will have to work twice as hard to maintain my weight and the body I want. Growing up me and my sister had different body types . She was able to eat whatever she wanted and would never gain a pound and for me it was not the case. So in order for my mother to not call me fat or have to be compared to her. I would eat less or not want to eat at all when I really wanted to. It’s sad that society has put such an emphasis on weight. And that people actually judge people who do choose to eat cake in the middle of the day or want a large slice. People are so worried about what others will think of them and I think its terrible.

  26. Avatar of Shelsea0722
    Shelsea0722 December 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    I was never able to relate to that until just recently. I usually eat whatever I want whenever I want. But last Friday I went out with my boyfriend and friends at Denny’s and I felt so self conscious to order a burger. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a girl but my main reason was that no one else was going to eat a burger. But obviously if I’m going to a burger joint then I’m going to eat one no matter who is with me. But usually I’m very comfortable eating the things I like and it’s probably to a fault. But I think it’s unfortunate that some women have that mentality that because their women they need to eat less or eat healthy in public.

  27. Avatar of mechanomoll
    mechanomoll December 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    I have to laugh. I really enjoyed this article. I am an overweight woman who happens to love salad and hate red meat. When I lived in LA, if I ordered a salad instead of a meat dish, I’d get some comment about being on a diet, like I need affirmation for “being good” (and if you’ve ever eaten a salad in LA, you’ll know the last thing they’re designed to do is help you lose weight!). On the flip side, I’d get some real hassle for not eating meat, like I was being rude or some such nonsense. Sometimes, I liked to go for coffee and dessert with a friend. When I was having dessert, I’d occasionally see people looking at me in disgust, as though they were thinking “Look at that fat lady – she has no self-control”. And the thing is, the portions out there are so big, it was always either lunch/dinner or dessert, never both. In the end, I felt as self-conscious about eating salad as about eating dessert!

  28. Avatar of mahsa
    mahsa December 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    This blog reminds me of when i was out with my boyfriend and our mutual friends and i was eating a burger in front of all of them, and all of my girlfriends that where there looked at me in disgust because they couldnt believe that i would eat like that in front of my boyfriend. The double standards between a guy and a girl are so…overrated. A girl isn’t suppose to eat in front of her boyfriend because the guy will find her disgusting, and the truth is that some guys do find it disgusting when girls eat in front of them, but i think that its disgusting when guys fart in front of me…but that doesnt stop them, does it.

  29. Avatar of Brianda Bobadilla
    Brianda Bobadilla December 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    This is by far one of the posts that I love the most. While I was reading it I couldn’t help myself but to go down memory lane. It made me relive my experience s with my bodily functions and my ex-boyfriend, not eating when in fact I was starving, and having the overly exaggerated mother telling me to think twice about eating. If I had never taken a woman studies class I would have probably still be killing myself trying to meet all these expectations society has deemed for women. Now, my mom’s comments don’t hurt me like they use to. I don’t allow it to depress me because I know there isn’t a human out in the world that doesn’t eat, well at least a healthy one. Now when I look at my reflection I’m not disgusted, on the other hand I am pleased to see what I see. When my ex tries to humiliate me in front of our mutual friends, I simply ask him why it’s so amusing to retell that story. Doesn’t everyone have to visit the restroom now and then? The way I view women and myself has completely changed. Women constantly have to break down barriers that keep constrained. I can honestly say that I’m “so over”this and I’ve accepted myself just the way I am.

  30. Avatar of mhbrown
    mhbrown December 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    As someone who struggles with an eating disorder, I must admit that I always feel a heightened awareness of what I am eating when in PUBLIC view. Not only do I have to negate the eating disorder thoughts that arise from eating food in general, I also have to confront the “negative perception of a woman eating” of which Melanie Klein writes. My hope would be that there no longer be a sense of judgment regarding food, and I think Mrs. Klein’s article begins that discussion. Write on! XOXOXO

  31. Avatar of PriscillaM
    PriscillaM December 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    This article has officially touched me.I remember being in high school not knowing or understanding what was right from wrong,but knowing that the only thing that was important to have was a good image.Going back to my freshman and Jr years of high school and taking my P.E class,i would force myself not to stop running and finish my miles in less then 10 minutes even if it meant throwing up afterwards.I was given the idea that the skinnier you where the more attractive you would be to other’s,and in high school that was very important. I would do the rules of not eating at night because if i did i would wake up pounds heavier,i would starve myself and not eat the whole day because that was the last thing i wanted to have. I was very thin and petite and i would take it as the biggest compliment when my family members would tell me that i was skinny and what was my technique for not gaining weight.I would usually just tell them about how active,i really was.Eating less carbs and more fruits and vegetables is what i ate the most until a day where i passed out,i was really scared that it happened to me that’s when i realized that it was not healthy anymore,i would always be tired and i would crave junk food the most but force myself not to dare touch them.Although my weight is still an issue for me, i don’t take it to the point of where i use to.I eat everything,i realize that it makes me happy and i don’t regret eating them after.i try new foods and although i choose healthier options i don’t limit myself.I love donuts,cookies and cake,and when given i will eat everything.Im happy with where i am now and i still work out but not to the extremes as i use to.Living a healthier life is what makes me feel good and i’m really grateful to hear that others have changed their ways too.We are beautiful the way we are and we should be happy each and every single day.

  32. Avatar of JorgeGarcia
    JorgeGarcia December 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    it is true, girls at a very young age begin to be teased about their weight and the way they look. women of any age should not care if they are eating a slice of cake in public, they are human after all and if they feel like eating a slice of cake, then f**k it eat that slice of cake you crave. of course that does not mean that individual should over eat. the individual should not feel ashamed about what they eat or when they eat.
    i know a couple of girls who went through the same problem the girl in the video did, and this is the perfect video to show them. to make them understand that it is normal and okay to eat a slice of cake or any dessert out in public.

  33. Avatar of Samanta K
    Samanta K December 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Growing up in Germany, men liked women, who “ate like men” and it would have been considered a faux pas, to order a salad on a date. After moving to Los Angeles in 2007, things changed drastically for me, as I was given “funny” looks, when asking for the dessert menu.

    My self consciousness grew and my confidence went out the window. Everybody seemed obsessed with calorie restrictions and exercise regimes. After countless diets, going up and down, sometimes 20lbs as fast as 4weeks, I was constantly unhappy and unsatisfied with the way I looked.
    So to see a woman, who turns things around, is very inspiring and encouraging!

    I am getting to a place where I can be at peace with my body and yes, I am having cake occasionally, even a second slice… ;-)

    Thank you for a great post!

  34. Avatar of tvassallo422
    tvassallo422 December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    WOW! this is great! I can’t tell you how much this discribes me AND my friends… sadly. I always feel so embarrassed to eat in front of people if it is not something healthy.. and sometimes i just feel awkward just eating in front of people because i feel like people will judge me. We are always told to not eat if we aren’t hungry and I always try to make sure I am not eating because I’m bored… what have you. We should never care what people think. WE NEED FOOD.

  35. Avatar of sarahmay
    sarahmay December 9, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    Most of the articles on this blog I can relate to too well, but this one? Nothing about the author’s experiences are familiar, I am relived to say. Neither I nor any of my female friend worry about eating in public, in fact last time went out together we got through a massive 3 course Italian meal, with dessert. Fabulous.

    While I appreciate connecting with others with similar issues is helpful for people with type of disorder, I don’t think it is helpful to assume that everyone is afflicted, or that there is some kind of general social phenomenon here. I have never ever heard of anyone thinking that someone (even women!) should not eat in public. What stigma? What negative perception?

    I travel widely and think that this can only be a localised US fad (which I have to say I was unaware of when I was there – which means I must have made loads of faux pas as usual!) I’m sure it will pass soon and there will be some new thing which people aren’t mean to do, like wear purple or something.

    And finally, from the comments? From where has it come that women are perceived as vegetarian? That’s a new one on me too. Women are more likely to suffer from anaemia than men (for obvious reasons) and therefore need the iron more. In fact they should LESS likely to be vegetarian.

    It does make me wonder if you have too much time to think about these things over the pond. In Europe we love to enjoy our food, meat and all!

  36. Avatar of Bridget T
    Bridget T December 9, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    The scenario depicted in the video clip is a perfect example of one of the many young females in America going through disordered eating. Who is there to blame? No one but merely a fellow peer that used a negative sanction against her body image, causing her to make drastic changes to her body. Thankfully, she eventually learns how to love herself for the way she is. With love comes respect. If women are constantly torturing themselves to create the image that’s so desirable by so many, I honestly don’t think they have any self respect for their body because they make making it suffer. There should be no shame when it comes to treating yourself to a sweet treat every so often. Every girl loves a nice slice of cake. Heck, who DOESN’T love cake? I for one cannot resist. Time to plan a trip to the Cheesecake Factory!

  37. Avatar of Dana
    Dana December 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    You know what really disturbs me about different gender expectations around food? Women are expected to be vegetarian; meat-eating is considered masculine. Yes, I know there are male vegetarians and male vegans, but most of the societal messages around meat imply that it is something males do, and that females should only have meat in small doses when we have it at all.

    I have learned enough about human nutrition–and I mean the real science, not the propaganda put out by PETA–to be horrified at this trend, especially in light of the increasing infertility rates in this country as well as the plethora of pharmaceutical drugs women are expected to be taking by the time we hit menopause. (No, I don’t believe women’s sole purpose in life is to be mothers BUT, most of us will have at least one baby in our lifetimes, or at least attempt to do so. And if a woman has trouble conceiving, chances are fair to very good that her baby will have problems too.) There is no reason we should be struggling this hard just to maintain a healthy baseline.

    The supposed radical feminist arguments against meat-eating are flawed, based on a misunderstanding of human evolution and human nutritional needs. The irony being that the Left, wherein most radical feminists reside philosophically, is supposed to be pro-evolution. Well, it would help if we’d learn from that field of study. Homo sapiens is a hunting ape: like chimpanzees, only better at it. And women weren’t left home during hunts because we were incapable, we were left home because the kids needed watching and bottles hadn’t been invented yet. Only in the most misogynistic of the tribal peoples or during extreme food shortages were we denied a share of the kill. And we’re not in that age anymore. There is no excuse now.

    Cake? Screw the cake. Pass me a steak.

  38. Avatar of Idor E
    Idor E December 8, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    This article helps me understand the negative sanctions women are given that effect them psychologically. This women started by dieting and said that it was healthy for her until it went out of control and turned into a disorder. It is great to know that she eventually overcame it when she was at her cousins birthday and her mom handed her a thin slice of cake, she asked for a bigger one. I feel that it takes a lot to just spontaneously just change like that. I give this women a lot of respect for her courage to over come this.

  39. Avatar of AllieKatOriginals
    AllieKatOriginals December 8, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    As I read this I am eating a ginormous cupcake the size of my head, almost, at work. Yummy!!! Great article!! I could’ve used articles like this as a teen, I had an eating disorder. It’s sad that women feel they have to be perfect and super skinny. Now I am a healthy weight and I’ve been known to eat entire cakes by myself ;P

  40. Avatar of joshberu
    joshberu December 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    This problem is very troubling. It’s starting to effect younger girls at even 8-9 years old. Unfortunately, instead of moms educating their daughters, they are teaming up with the media and causing lifelong problems for their daughters. As a result, many people eat foods with artificial sugar and zero calories, which are extremely unhealthy.

    • Avatar of Dana
      Dana December 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

      Um, I’m one of those people who eats “artificial sugar.” Because real sugar is horrible for you and it doesn’t matter what your gender is. I don’t care what the sugar industry says, nor the American Dietetic Association which is sponsored by Coca-Cola. I only know how my body feels when I eat real sugar vs. Splenda. And I wouldn’t go back to the former if you paid me. And funnily enough, since I switched to the latter, other than the coffee I have every morning I eat sweet stuff far less often.

      Yes, personal choice is great, but I didn’t feel like a lot of my food choices were really choices. They felt more like cravings. I honestly don’t think anything is missing from my life if I never again have a piece of store-bought sheet cake. I know where to find a healthier recipe that is Paleo or low-carb or Specific Carbohydrate Diet based if I *really* want cake. I had one made of black beans (yes!) for my last birthday and it was awesome. I got my chocolate, I didn’t get a sugar coma. Win-win.

  41. Avatar of Josampoo
    Josampoo December 8, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    I think it’s interesting to examine how the pursuit of a thin physical framework is normative across different cultures. I think that in Asian cultures, “thinness” is emphasized as the norm for young girls. Mothers are largely responsible for their daughter’s spiritual, physical, and mental well-being. So its scary to hear stories of mothers being very strict with their own diets and continuing their unhealthy routine or practice through their daughters at an early age.
    In addition, women and young girls are very constrained in other ways than their diet. Hygiene for women is non-existent to men. Girls don’t poop is another clique. It’s like girls are no longer actualized human beings. We’ve essentially turned into robots that have no real feelings or expressions. This problem dates back to the systematic oppression of women to exist only for the pleasure of men. One of the soul reasons why women started staying thin was to appear reproductively capable of producing a healthy offspring. Moreover, thinness is a reflection of their self-worth and reproductiveness. So the question is, have we turned into mere ornaments with price-tags for men? I hope not and I hope that women begin to realize that our self-worth is not characterized by the quantity of a slice of cake but by our personalities, our uniqueness, or humor, or intellect, and our diversity as an individual.

    -JoanneS

    • Avatar of AllieKatOriginals
      AllieKatOriginals December 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

      Well said. We as women and mothers do need to make the change. We are worth more, we have fought for so many different rights and such but still put so much value in our appearances and our “price tags for men”. I was raised that way, that I was told fat is bad, hence the eating disorder. But with my own daughter, almost 5, I make sure to eat at least 2 meals a day with her and my son and I make sure I eat a healthy portion while having and encouraging an open conversation as to why we should eat well. To stay healthy, to be able to have energy at school and to play. I feel compelled to lead her down a different road than the one i was led down. Hers will be a healthy one and I will always be there for her to come talk to.

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