By: Reya D
I have a relationship with the food I eat. I mean to say, there are days when I see chocolate and all I can do is will myself not to eat the entire bar, but then the next thing I know it’s all done and I’m onto the next craving.
Since I can remember, I have always been told that my body is a temple that I must worship and take care of it; in turn I have also been told to eat in moderation. I think most people, and women especially believe in this idea, and understand taking care of their bodies as living a healthy lifestyle (i.e. eating right and being active). Being active is easily understood as leading a healthy lifestyle, but who determines what the eating right is? More importantly, which foods are good for you and not. I ask these questions because when I go to eat something, there’s a part of me that always questions myself “do you really need to eat that?” However it is the process of asking myself whether I should eat certain unhealthy foods that I find destructive to my self-esteem.
I believe there is a moment in women’s lives where we learn that certain eating behaviours are frowned upon by society. Food becomes filled with moral judgements. Whenever I eat a chocolate bar, or a more cultural delicacy like a pine-tart, I begin to feel bad that I ate it, and I start believing that I could have eaten something better. The negativity I feel about eating junk foods is related to the playful teasing and destructive criticism I have received from eating unhealthy, mainly because others think I will become “overweight” if I eat the wrong foods. At this point in my life, as a 25 year old Indo-Caribbean woman, I know that my metabolism is beginning to slow down and I will have to workout harder to tone my body if I want to. This is what I believe is the key to women’s relationship with food. It is the recognition by women that they have the choice in what they want to eat.
Society might have an opinion about how a woman’s body should look, but it is a woman’s choice to shape her own body.The negativity around women eating is linked to the hateful and disturbing social norms set by popular culture (i.e. magazines, television shows, movies, etc.) in relation to the body shape of “attractive women”. I think women need to be constantly reminded that the bodies we see in magazines, movies, and tv shows, are unrealistic to the actual lifestyles of most women. If I want to eat a gulab jamun or piece of cake, I should be able to eat that food without having to think about calories, its impact on my body and what I will have to do to burn the fat off. Eating should be enjoyable, not an internal battle with every bite.