Eavesdrop gave me this gem today:
Girl 1: Are cupcakes carbs?
Girl 2: I don’t know. They have flour, and flour’s a carb right?
Girl 1: I don’t know. It has butter. Is butter a carb?
Girl 3: I thought only bread was a carb.
Girl 2: No. So are things like pasta and rice.
Girl 3: Rice is a carb? I thought rice was a vegetable.
Girl 1: Are you serious?
Girl 3: I’ve never really thought about it, but if you asked, I would say a vegetable.
Girl 2: No it’s definitely a carb.
Yeah, it’s funny, it’s exactly what I’d expect to hear on a college campus and I’m POSITIVE Jas and I have had a conversation or ten exactly like this… but it got me thinking, too. Why do girls in our generation obsess over eating to the point where it takes over our entire lives? Why does our emotional happiness rely on every little piece of food that goes in? We’re constantly weighing what we’ve eaten with what we haven’t, justifying every morsel we put in our mouths and beating ourselves up brutally when it’s the wrong thing. I remember first starting to do this in elementary school. When lunchboxes featured fruit roll-ups and Doritos. I watched female classmates eat nothing but a Rice Krispie treat and viciously judge each other about what they’ve consumed before they could even justify wearing bras. Why can’t we fuckin’ lighten up?
Now, I don’t diet. I don’t believe in it, even though sometimes I REALLY REALLY have to fight those urges to jump on that bandwagon and lose a few pounds. Maybe I’ll even indulge in a few minutes thinking about all the things I’ll stop eating so I can tighten up a little (I’ll start tomorrow, I swear). Cut out some carbs, eat a little less at every meal, starve my way through the workday ’til I’m about to fall over… ’cause, hey, dumbass (this is my body talking) your blood sugar can’t really handle starvation, now can it? But I never follow through and I know it’ll never work; I will still eat that croissant for breakfast, grab an Oreo after dinner and order those mini-burgers at the restaurant ’cause, dammit, I’m hungry.
But I don’t love my body. Yesterday was Love Your Body Day and I definitely didn’t celebrate. The only reason to even think about dieting is for my boyfriend. Hah! Not for me, not even for other girls, even though being a 5’7″ elephant on stilts when I’m tromping through DC doesn’t help my self-esteem much. The only appeal of dieting is in somehow becoming more appealing to the people around me, since my size is a source of utter embarrassment and shame (and apparently your size can change depending on what’s going on in your relationship — thanks, honey!) When Mr. Belle came home for the first time in two months, I was petrified that he’d see “healthy sized” me and run right back in the other direction. I realized once again that I can’t go shopping with him unless it’s in HIS section, since I’m totally ashamed of that size tag on those jeans and that dress, and I’ll do anything to drag him away from my section of the store. (Truth is he doesn’t care, and neither should I.)
He hits the gym two hours a day and is very active all day long, while I watch my ass slowly spreading at my 9-hour-a-day desk job. He recently lost a shit-ton of weight and can show it off any time he likes — I’m proud of him, so why shouldn’t he? But I still hate every picture from the beach and hide under loosely-fitted skirts and layers. And, I might add, he has a long history of obsessing over his diet WAY MORE than any girl I’ve ever met, so controlled eating is not a problem for him. I consider it an accomplishment to order a salad in a restaurant, and then remember that I HATE SALAD.
Lots of people point out that losing weight is easier for men and that maybe they care less about it, but I find that the men in my life care MORE about dieting and exercising than the girls do. But they also are more active about it; instead of complaining about dieting (like I do) they actually diet, they show up at the gym, they lift the damn weights together and touch each others’ muscles (yeah, it’s as awkward as it sounds). Sure, they obsess (if Mr. Belle misses his workout, you can find me hiding somewhere FAR AWAY) but in my limited test group it seems like men get the damn thing done.
So are men just better at this whole weight loss business, or is their obsessing as bad or worse than what the women I know do on a daily basis? Do you obsess about this stuff as much as the rest of your friends, or even our generation? If I remember to show up at the gym, will you have already been there for two hours or are you as far away from it as possible?