No Wonder we have issues! –a superficial exploration of this woman and her obsession with food! By Robynn
What’s with women and food?
Women have a strange relationship with food. Maybe it’s not just women. Maybe
men have an odd entanglement with food too. But certainly women do. Traditionally men were the ones that killed the food and brought it home. And it seems to me that women have been in the kitchen ever since preparing it.
Is it any wonder that we have issues with food? Food is such a complicated thing.
We need food to survive. We need the nourishment that comes from the nutrients. We need the energy that comes from the calories.
In the west food is everywhere. Advertisers appeal to our base appetites and instincts. They convince us that we deserve the most delectable treats. We’re worth it! We’re entitled to the tastiest morsels, the fanciest of feasts. Food is sensual and supposedly satisfying.
And yet at the same time we’re served up such mixed messages.
The media tells us to diet, to become skinny, to lose weight. We’re trained to fixate on food and we’re taught to obsess on size. Supposedly we can have our cake and eat it too!
The plot and the waistline thicken when we consider all the roles food plays.
Food is a central part of celebration.
(Consider the Christmas dinner or the food at Eid; the sweets for Holi and the feast at Thanksgiving!) Food is also a reward. Side dishes of consolation are served up as comfort. Friends get together for meals. It’s part of our hospitality and included in our invitations. “Come over for dessert!” Food is the subject of countless studies. (Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? What is the role of the family dinner in our children’s state assessment scores? ) Food and it’s production have become highly political subjects as well. High Fructose Corn Syrup sneaks into most things we eat. There are lobbyists in Washington making sure that doesn’t change! Meanwhile down the street Mrs Obama is planting a garden and encouraging us to eat better, more of this, less of that.
Food is nostalgia.
It’s childhood. It’s memories. For those of us who’ve been other places and come to love other foods it represents a deeper type of longing for a place faraway.
Boarding school further complicated my food issues. Food meant status (those who had special imported treats and those who didn’t). Food meant love and connection with home. Sharing our “feastings” was a way to share our families and the love of our families. Reunions always meant food. Mom cooked all of our favourites for each reunion. It was her way of welcoming us home. It was one of the languages she used to say, I missed you so very much. Pending separations were counted down with food. Three more days at home meant three more home cooked meals and another opportunity for mom to lavish love in three more meals of our favourites. The train trip back up to school included shoe boxes lined with wax paper and filled with food!
That travel food was prepared with tears and consumed by little brave travelers trying not to drench cinnamon buns and elephant ear pastries with more tears.
And yet now food becomes practical, and real and down to earth every day. I have to think about it. I have to plan for it. I have to go get it. I push my cart through the shop, load it up, empty it out at the check out, bag it, load it into the car, unload it into the house, put it away and then bring it out again, cut it, chop it, stir it, cook it and serve it!
Food is universal.
Everywhere, every day, we wake up and we think about food. This is true for the rich and for the poor; for the full and for the hungry.
There are those who are sick because of food and the power it wields. Those who eat too little or eat too much. Those trying to drown their souls in their stomaches. Those trying to hold on to a bit of control in a world wild with chaos.
But in a way I think I’m sick with food too. As my metabolism slows and the emotions of yesteryear begin to simmer up inside food somehow grounds me….or at least it pretends too. I realize my reasons for eating are as complex as the personality I’ve been given or the story I’ve been living.
I find food too oppressive. I’m weary of the obsession. I try not to weigh my emotions or my convictions about food as I stand on the scale, naked, vulnerable, weary.
I tried to give it all up for Lent….not food itself…but the longing and love of food. It’s not working.
But today, on International Day of the Woman, I will put aside the obsession and celebrate – celebrate that at the very least food does serve to connect me with women across the globe. Food ties our stories and struggles together. binds us tight with spices and tastes. And that I can and will celebrate.