food wars

A weird thing happened a few days ago.
I was in Price Chopper, minding my own business, buying a small single-serve size thing of plain greek yogurt because it was part of a recipe and I needed to pick some up.

Standing in line, put the container up on the conveyor belt (is that what those are called?), and happened to turn around.
The guy behind me, I am guessing who was somewhere between 30-40, looks at the container then looks at me. It’s around 5:30pm so he says “light dinner, huh?” I laughed politely then said it was part of a recipe, that just that would not quite qualify as dinner. So he follows it up with a comment about how small I am and surely I do not eat more than that anyway.

I think what happened was an attempt to be nice or flirt or something. However, the undertone of the exchange caught me off guard, and I couldn’t help but feel a little…I don’t know, off-kilter about it.

Now, I understand that I am a small person. But I’m not rail-thin either. I don’t understand why there’s this idea that exists within our culture that small women must not really eat very much. And it’s not perpetuated only by men making passing commentary in the grocery store. Almost every party I go to with only women present involves eating portion sizes that barely qualify as a snack, even if there are mounds of food available, just begging to be descended upon. And so much of the time, women won’t even finish the tiny amount of food they are attempting to very daintily eat off their plate!

To the women of the world who seem to feel they should not eat enough to sustain them: you’re not fooling anyone, we know you are hungry. Please just eat. No one is going to judge you, and if they do, they are probably not someone you want to spend your time being around anyway.

And if you’re a small, active person, chances are your metabolism is pretty solid. I’ve been trying to run regularly since about mid-December; I’ve definitely lost some weight, and I feel good about myself, but I also have started eating close to as much food as I did when I was 16 and playing field hockey.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. I would even go as far as to argue that perpetuating the idea that small women shouldn’t or probably don’t eat very much simultaneously serves to perpetuate the likelihood of poor body image/poor self-esteem, and maybe even eating disorders. And I wonder how much it makes people who are trying to become smaller feel like they can’t or shouldn’t eat. There’s nothing healthy about this weird-ass stereotype.

So, guys, please, if you find yourself in a grocery store and want to talk to a girl, don’t use commentary on the amount of food a female is purchasing as a topic of conversation. It’s awkward.

It’s not that I’m inherently offended by what this person said either, because I wasn’t. But I couldn’t help but make some connections between the comment and observations I have made over the years about the relationship between women and food.