Okay, so back in my early days teaching writing, I’d have students use a reader that included this pretty awesome advertising analysis by Susan Bordo, “Hunger as Ideology.”
Bordo looks at Victorian mores about women “indulging” their “appetites,” and basically points out that women who deny themselves food are seen as chaste, pure, virginal, good. While women who indulge their appetites are over-sexed, lack self-control, CHEAT, SIN. & this oppressive Victorian ideology plays itself out in contemporary advertising & in the beliefs most Western women have about eating (it’s a SIN!).
& Bordo does this nice comparison of women nibbling (and all those nibble-sized foods we’re supposed to love) and men just full-on consuming (manwhiches, hungry-man dinners, those big soups that you have to eat with a fork). All perfectly good and right. All insanely connected to virtue: for a woman, a small appetite is a virtue (read: appetite for sex); for a man, a BIG appetite is to be expected and makes him a manly man.
Blah, Blah, Blah.
Okay, so I get it & I see it in advertisements all over the place now (small Hagen-Daaz ice creams, little Ben & Jerry’s, tiny brownie bakes, all those ads that show women serving men food and denying themselves the same food…”you’re a sweet talker, Betty Crocker.”). Bordo says, “Men eat, women prepare.” UGH! But does it make me feel less guilty when I CHEAT? Nope. I still feel like a failure. When my husband says things like, “I shouldn’t have eaten the whole pizza by myself,” does he feel guilt? No!
I get it. It’s been drilled into me (no pun intended) that a dalliance with food is akin to sin. But I somehow can’t use that knowledge that this food guilt is culturally-induced and sexist to its very core to get over the guilt I feel for having 2 beers with dinner, several of the appetizer chips, and three bites of hubby’s enormous desert.
Guilt, regret, self-loathing…holy crap! It was only dinner! I didn’t cheat on my husband, I cheated on my diet. & it wasn’t a cheat. If this diet of mine is a life-long journey, then what I did was indulge for one meal, out with my inlaws, during an otherwise uneventful & unexciting spring break.
Also, I opted against the Fish & Chips at an Irish pub, on a Friday night, during Lent & chose to have a house salad topped with grilled salmon. Why? Because I wanted the beer, so I bargained with myself…beer=salad, no beer=fish & chips. In the long run, this cheat was a blip.
So…why am I still writing about this? I think cause there’s part of me that remains REALLY PISSED that I can’t enjoy a nice meal without feeling some guilt for indulging my appetite, for not denying myself pleasure, for cheating.
Okay, I’m also still writing because it’s been a long time since I had two pints of beer in a row, so I’m feeling no pain…just guilt.
Okay, as soon as this working spring break is over, I’m back at it…food logging & blogging & all.
Have a great weekend Chicks!