I work in a cafe with lots of high fat/sugar and super-delicious pastry type foods, so I also get to hear a lot of customers tell me about their self-hate and diets. I’ve seen a 60 or 70-something year old nun consistently come in and worry about the calories in her hot chocolate. I’ve had a very thin/tall man regular customer keep babbling on and on about the diet he is on and obsessing about even after I told him several times that I am not interested in the subject (What is it about diets that people seem to lose all sense of boundaries in regard to them?). I have seen a woman who could easily be someone’s grandma talk about the “sin” of putting whipped cream on her mocha and the even worse “sin” of buying a cookie to eat with that mocha. I have also been thanked by a few women for challenging their body-hating talk and my pointing out that food is just food – not a “sin” and not a moral issue. One customer has told me flat out that she feels a lot safer ordering her favorite blended coffee drink when I am around, because she knows I won’t participate in any body-hating dialogue. It is sad that food rhetoric has become so vitriolic that a person of normal weight (as this customer is) doesn’t feel safe ordering a blended coffee drink…
I wonder what people would be capable of achieving if they put their energy into goals that were actually achievable rather than the infinite black-hole of making the next diet work and finally becoming thin. I wonder what people would be like if their idea of morality wasn’t sunk into thinness and instead, ya know, had something to do with not shaming or abusing others for a start. I wonder what unproductive and even cruel behavior some people allow themselves to get away with because they are pursuing the “ultimate” virtue of thinness or are trying to maintain the thinness they have so painstakingly achieved.
These questions bring back memories of myself. I was thin obsessed and willing to sacrificed just about anything to achieve that goal. I went from being a person who cared more about the feelings of others to a person who was unfailingly rude to the barista at Starbucks and any poor customer service worker I came across. But, that didn’t matter. Thin was what mattered. I think we all probably know someone like this… that person who is so lost in their diet schemes that their other values get put on the shelf and what is left is a very unpleasant person sacrificing too much on the altar of thinness. There are too many of these people out there, so many that it is sad and somewhat disheartening to contemplate.
Yesterday a customer thanked me for making a snarky comment in response to her “cookie as sin” talk. I mentioned something along the lines JennyRose originally said to me about real bad behavior being abusive or cruel rather than it being daring to eat a *gasp* cookie or being the fat person you were born (or dieted yourself) to be. I asked the customer if she had abused a child or shoved any little old ladies down stairs. Had she kicked a puppy? Because that sounds a lot more like “sin” to me than eating a friggin’ cookie. Seriously. Cookie sin… I can’t stop rolling my eyes at the idea. There are way bigger problems in this world than cookies and, yes, even overeating. Imagine though what a comforting (unrealistic) world those people who think fat or cookies live in. You’d need no complex answers to things like racism, poverty, sex trafficking, war and child abuse. All you need is to keep chasing that FOBT* and everything is peachy. I can understand the allure, but couldn’t live with myself for living that lie and wish I could be more compassionate with those who do, because I am sure that shaming them isn’t going to help them change anymore than shaming fat people makes them thin.
*Fantasy of being thin