Saturday, April 15, 2006

Another Chocolate-Covered Holiday

Here’s a new one for me. A blog post inspired by JK Rowling.

I’m a news junkie, so I frequently skim through The Scotsman online and that’s where I saw this story. JK Rowling rants about the pressure to be thin.

In North America, do we ever know about the pressure to be a certain size. All the supermodels are underweight, even Jennifer Aniston was told she was 20 lbs too heavy when she first went to Hollywood. Look at her now, she doesn’t need airplane tickets to get from LA to New York, just a strong, steady wind.

But this is what our culture defines as attractive and especially if you’re a woman, you feel it. Even those of us that don’t read chicky magazines or follow fashion or watch much TV feel the pressure. Stemming from every TV commercial to billboard adverts and the covers of books. The same message, over and over again: This is how you’re supposed to look.

Is there such a thing as too skinny? You tell me.

I was originally planning to blog on this tomorrow, but various things prompted me to pull this forward. Regardless, I thought it was interesting that I found myself thinking about body image at Easter. Yet another holiday that used to be about religious beliefs and instead is now part of the cycle of ongoing worship of food.

Think about it. What gets pushed at Valentines? Flowers and chocolates. Candy hearts. St. Patrick’s Day involves drinking beer. Easter? Yep – bunnies bringing chocolate eggs and various treats of mostly sugar.

The national holidays are a wee bit better, but then Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all heavily associated with food.

Now, the other day I talked about some of my eating hang-ups. The need to eat M&M’s lightest to darkest. And how I would eat the food on my plate least favourite to favourite item.

You know how that started? Because my parents said I couldn’t have dessert if I didn’t finish all the food on my plate.

Beware the powerful incentive of dessert. Especially in a house where you didn’t get a treat every night. You wanted that. So I learned to work for it. Whatever was on my plate, I would force my way through it.

My mother never bought the “I really don’t like this” line. I had all sorts of bizarre solutions for those problems after failing stalemates miserably. For one, I only liked mashed potatoes with gravy. So I learned to eat them with cream corn on them too, just so I could get through them.

I would cut liver up into pill-sized pieces and swallow with milk.

And I would finish that damn dinner so that I could finally have what I liked – dessert.

Keeping my favourite things on the plate for last was incentive. Get past the yucky stuff and I get to eat the yummy stuff, and that’s the taste I’d rather have in my mouth.

Which was not a good way to learn how to determine when my stomach was full. It’s given me a hang-up to this day about finishing meals, and that was a real problem when we needed to eat out a lot. Because I still have that feeling that I must finish what’s on my plate.

Someone I know has a hang-up with pop. He’d get it when he’d been a good boy, as a reward. Once he had control over his diet on a daily basis? Feeling down? Go get a Pepsi. Made him feel rewarded.

The use of a food reward had given it a psychological association over time.

We have to stop using basic necessities as daily incentives for behaviour.

We have to start teaching people to listen to their bodies.

And we have to also start reinforcing healthy body images.

I’m not for obesity, and that’s a separate issue. But I’m keenly aware of the pressure to lose weight. In my case, I need to. But I see these young girls obsessing over every single inch on their bodies and I remember what that was like too.

It’s a shame they can’t enjoy their healthy metabolisms while they have them a bit more, and enjoy things. Soon enough, just looking at that pumpkin pie will add 5 pounds…

I leave you with bad jokes. Will be out for much of the day, but I'll be here tomorrow.

It's fun to cook for Don. Today I made angel food cake. The recipe said beat 12 eggs separately. The neighbours were nice enough to loan me some extra bowls.
Don wanted fruit salad for supper. The recipe said serve without dressing. So I didn't dress. What a surprise when Don brought a friend home for supper.

A good day for rice. The recipe said wash thoroughly before steaming the rice. It seemed kind of silly but I took a bath anyway. I can't say it improved the rice any.
Today Don asked for salad again. I tried a new recipe. It said prepare ingredients, then toss on a bed of lettuce one hour before serving. Don asked me why I was rolling around in the garden.
I found an easy recipe for cookies. It said put the ingredients in bowl and beat it. There must have been something wrong with this recipe. When I got back, everything was the same as when I left.
Don did the shopping today and brought home a chicken. He asked me to dress it for Sunday (oh boy). For some reason Don keeps counting to ten.
Don's folks came to dinner. I wanted to serve roast, but all I had was hamburger. Suddenly I had a flash of genius. I put the hamburger in the oven and set the controls for roast. It still came out hamburger, much to my disappointment.
This has been a very exciting week. I am eager for tomorrow to come so I can try out a new recipe on Don. If I can talk Don into buying a bigger oven, I would like to surprise him with Chocolate Moose


Lisa Hunter said...

The photo is scary, and yet...

I've been developing a TV show about the fashion industry with my husband (a screenwriter), and we interviewed a fashion editor as research. It was surreal. She said her physical ideal was Mary Kate Olsen. Of a favorite local model, she said, "She's so beautiful. Of course, she's anorexic, so she can't stand up for long, but she's got such a great look."

Erik Ivan James said...

"Pig" here.
The fashion industry may love it.
The magazine industry may love it.
"Marketing" may love it.
I don't love it.
I think a full grown woman should look like a full grown woman.
If I want sex with a knothole in a tree limb, I'll head on into the woods. And what the hell, if she can't stand up long enough to .....

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Yikes...Erik...word pictures! LOL

Sandra, the joke was just too cute...I'm stealing it for my blog! LOL

I need to loose, say 50 pounds, so when someone with a waist the size of my thigh tells me they need to diet...I feel the urge to murder..LOL

JamesO said...

I totally understand the 'food as a motivational tool' thing. When I was a kid, my mother used to say that if we didn't eat what was on our plate, we'd get it cold for the next meal. I guess she'd lived through the aftermath of the war, rationing and all that stuff, so there's perhaps a reason for the attitude, even if it was wrong. My brother tested her resolve by refusing to eat his macaroni cheese one evening. I seem to recall that he won, about five meals later. The whole episode didn't do much for family harmony, though.

I think it's a tradition (or was a tradition before they became westernised) in the Polynesian islands that as soon as you even begin to feel full, you stop eating. Of course, food is plentiful there, so there's no shame in wasting. This strikes me as a much more sensible way of bringing up children .

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Those photos just made me spurt organic juice sode up my nose.

Boy Kim said...
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Boy Kim said...

You ask if there’s such a thing as too skinny. Put it this way – if you fall flat on your face when you poke your tongue out, you’re too skinny.

Regarding the photo, I always like to think that there’s a natural equilibrium in this world, so it’s nice to see that the average weight of the three ladies is about right.

And if you want to avoid bringing up children, don’t eat so many in one sitting.

Gabriele C. said...

James, my mother tried that on me. With the same result as your brother. She eventually got scared that I'd die of hunger rather than eat half raw eggs. She could have been right, stubborn doesn't begin to describe me. :-)

I can live without dessert, too.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who had food abuse as a kid. No wonder we all have issues these days!

Bonnie, steal away. Lisa, that project sounds intriguing in a completely fascinated by sickness kind of way. Erik, LOL!

Dana, sorry.

Gabriele, what about Ritter Sport bars? Ummm.
James, I'm sure growing up in the war motivated some people, but my parents weren't born until the 50's. So they don't have that excuse. Although poverty does factor in there. When you've had to scrape by and live off of macaroni and ketchup for years, you don't like to see food wasted.

Hi Kim!

Boy Kim said...

Hi Sandra!

Night Sandra!

For The Trees said...

Poor Don! I can relate! I'm doing all the cooking for Sherry and myself and BOY! The directions! Still, I've managed to NOT give us food poisoning, so I'm doing something right...

However, since starting to take care of Sherry last August, there have been entire weeks when I couldn't walk through the kitchen without grabbing 2 chocolate cookies and eating them as I walked back to my room. Then I started eating one on the way to take care of her.

It wasn't until we got some help from Medicaid to come in that I felt enough stress drop off so I didn't have to snag cookies on the fly.

And yes, my mother did the "eat everything on your plate" song and dance. So now I take smaller portions.

If I'd walk twice a day, I'd lose weight like magic. Instead I sit here and play at other people's blogs. But other people's blogs are FUN!

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