It’s started again. I had been so proud of myself…until today. And one conversation starts me headed back down a road of ridiculous neuroses. Let me rewind a bit and give you some background on what I’m talking about. I was throwing together a pot of chili tonight (I make a damn good one…dinner is at 6) and I had the Food Network on in the kitchen to drown out the sound of screaming little girls. And I started thinking about what a funny world we live in. On one hand, we have a network dedicated entirely to food and cooking and delicious yumminess. And on the other hand, we live in a nation where we are constantly being told that we’re fat. It’s a constant juxtaposition, and today I fell victim to the little voice inside my head. The one I had kept at bay for several months, at least.
It started with a harmless conversation with a friend about how she’s going to lose her baby weight. She’s started tracking calories and was telling me how hungry she is, and how excited she was this morning when she woke up and a new calorie day had begun! And…that’s where it started. The voice starts in on me (she’s a bitch – she sounds a little like me only she’s hungry) saying, “you’d better not eat that”, “you have put on six pounds since summer, do you really need that cookie?”, “if X is tracking calories and already back in her old jeans, don’t you think it’d be a good idea for YOU to watch what goes in your mouth once in a while?”, “Zoe is almost three – it’s no longer baby weight”…and ON and ON and…Mother of God – SHUT HER UP already!!
Here’s the deal. I never had to watch what I ate - really. I mean, I’ve always been active and up until I was in my early twenties, I danced 3-5 days a week, which I loved, and working out isn’t a chore when you love what you’re doing. It was never hard for me to keep weight off until I hit my late twenties. And then I had babies, and…well. I wish I could say that I was like so many of the celebrity moms you see who are back into their own clothes within a week and look better with each kid they pop out. Not so. I was back in my clothes quickly enough, but my body looked, at best, like someone had chewed it up, blown it into a bubble, popped the bubble and stuck it in my old jeans. And ever since, that voice has crept out whenever those jeans get the slightest bit snug. What’s peculiar, is that in the past few months I’ve been thrilled that I hadn’t heard that voice. At all. I think I’ve been so busy with more important things that she took a vacation and left me alone. Thing is, I was so proud of that that I started telling people I was done worrying about it. My body just is what it is until I find extra hours in the day and that really, I’m fairly happy with the way I look. I believed that. I did and I kind of still do…right?
So, why did she come back so quickly? How could she have slipped back in during that one silly moment? And better yet, why am I listening? I want my two girls to know it doesn’t matter what they look like as long as they’re healthy. I don’t want them to hear me berate myself – even Steve gave me the raised eyebrow when he heard me talking about my weight for the first time in ages. “I thought you were over that,” he said. Is anyone ever really over body image? I mean, really, even skinny girls? Kathy Griffin said in the stand up act I watched last night that she was hungry all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. And the skinnier she gets, the bitchier she gets. Who wants that? Why should we be constantly miserable? Because every magazine on the newsstand tells us so? Or because most female celebrities weigh well under what is natural or even attainable for normal women? Because size 8 is now considered “plus size”?? What the hell are we doing to our little girls, our future young women? How much is too much?
Eeeek. I’m sorry. Clearly it’s disturbing to me, and part of why I was so thrilled with ignoring that voice is that I thought I had finally stopped buying into what I should look like, what I should weigh. Here’s the thing: I have a not so secret crush on Paula Deen. And to be honest, her food disgusts me – who can use that much butter? It’s gross. What I love about her isn’t the food, it’s that she makes no excuses for who she is and what she looks like – she loves food. LOVES it, and isn’t afraid to eat and show that food can be used for entertainment, for nourishment, for bringing people and families together. I’ve decided that the next time I hear that voice in my head, I’m going to channel Paula and hope she kicks her ass. Or at least slathers her with some butter and gobbles her up.