As I was standing in line at Trader Joe's, minding my own sweet business, I opened a package of dried seaweed. An older man, about 75 years old, standing in line in front of me started staring at my breasts, then proceeded to look me up and down. With what sounded like a Russian accent came, "You sure like to eat!"
“What the what?” I thought as every former anorexic panic button set off inside me.
"I am not even sure how to take what you just said to me." (Why I dignified him with even so much as a word is beyond me.)
He Russian accented me, "You'll put on weight if you keep eating."
Then he walked away… off to offer his sage wisdom to another unsuspecting stranger, I am sure.
I felt the old need to yell, "But it's just seaweed! And I am a yoga teacher! Are you calling me fat?"
Then I got angry at myself: “Jennifer, you know better!” I think I might have said this out loud, but the people that work at Trader Joe's are usually totally hip and cool, and my cashier didn't even acknowledge it, but rather said, "You look great."
Again, besides the point! Nothing needs defending here.
This creepy old fart, all of a sudden, has taken my power away and, like magic, everyone, on cue apparently, needs to make excuses and defend and justify the very, very evil: FOOD.
(As well as commenting on my figure, and its curves or lack thereof.)
Such a statement on our weight/food obsessed culture. Even from an old nosy man, I am getting flack for being too fat or too skinny or eating too much or not enough.
I used to have a fear that people would stop asking me, “Are you ill?” It made me feel like I stood out, like I was special. When someone told me I looked “healthy,” I panicked. (I know that this is hard to believe for the people who know me now, especially my students.)
Had the COF (Creepy Old Fart) said this to me ten years ago, I would have gotten back into my car and had a full blown panic attack. I would have decided that he was right and I eat too much, so I would stop eating and lose weight… and why was I such a loser and why and why and Oh My God and I can't breathe and I am a pig and Oh My God and I will just exercise for four hours tomorrow and I do like to eat, he's right, I am bad....
(imitation of my old attacks.)
The way he said, "You like to eat!" was like an accusation, like I should be burned alive at the stake. I realize a lot of women live like this (I am sure men as well). I used to.
This notion that eating is something to be ashamed of or forgiven for, I cannot believe the thought crossed my mind to defend myself with it just being seaweed.
“Forgive me Sir, it is just seaweed with a little wasabi. It's not much? I am so sorry.”
And, so what if someone gains weight? This is the other thing I have been thinking about since this incident. So what? Then what? You are no longer you? You will no longer have your job or your kids or your thoughts or memories? No one will love you?
People equating their beloved self worth with their oh-so very temporary bodies.
I wish I had dug into my car for my Salt & Vinegar Chips, which I would have done had I been able to reach them.
And just a side note which I would like to make very public: YES, I LIKE TO EAT! I LOVE TO EAT!