Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The three letter F word

Fat.

It's surprising to me how few food blogs take up this topic. It's certainly an outcome from cooking that must be guarded against, no?

The discussion of fat is two pronged: the fat one finds in food, and the fat one finds on oneself. Or, increasingly, on everyone around us. I work on a college campus and am constantly amazed by how heavy the student body (no pun intended) has become. When I was in college, kids were skinny. The girls, in particular, were fanatic about looking perfect. Granted, I did my undergraduate work in Los Angeles. When Hockeyman and I moved to Northern California to undertake graduate study, people weren't as appearance-oriented, but overall health was prized. Healthy food was easy to find. It's certainly easy to find here; my workplace boasts an organic cafe offering excellent sandwhiches and salads. Still, the kids are overweight. Girls wear midriff- baring shirts and low-rise jeans, displaying that peculiar roll of fat that comes from overconsumption of junk food.

Like almost every other American female, I am a scarred veteran of the body wars. As an adolescent I stood 5'3 and weighed 140. Although mildly overweight, I studied dance and was extremely fit. Certainly I was never obese. Of course I hated my body with a passion and longed to lose the weight, but never quite could.

During my turbulent twenties, my weight plummented to an anorexic 110, back up to 140, then down to 120, a weight I have managed to maintain for over a decade. I attribute this in part to Hockeyman, who assured me he loved me at whatever weight, and to the realization that I was allowed to eat. Allowing myself ice cream removed the weirdness. I ate some. I was done. The next night, I ate a little more. Just allowing myself to have it was enough.

Of course nobody can look like Pamela Anderson or Jennifer Aniston unless they have professional handlers--people who exercise them, feed them diet food, and do all their housework. I myself find housework is ill-performed on an empty stomach, and I am not talking raw vegetables coated in lowfat dressing. Also, both these women, when you think about it, are a little scary looking. I once saw a photograph of Pamela Anderson before all her cosmetic surgery. I didn't recognize the brown-haired woman in the photo. No huge hair, talon nails, or pneumatic boobs. And you know what? She was gorgeous. A naturally beautiful girl. It made me sad.

As for Ms. Aniston, she gets the Kate Moss award. Honey, eat something!

I love to cook, and I love to eat. As I inch toward forty, I try to eat reasonably. I will always want ice cream and short ribs and refuse to eat anything masquerading as butter. But I don't have to eat the cakes and cookies people are constantly bringing to the office. Most of it is garbage from Costco, not worth my calories. Straus Organic Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream? Totally worth my calories, enough so that I will take a walk at lunchtime to earn them.

I don't mean to sound like a moralistic prude--God knows I'm not, and refraining from sweets is always a challenge for me. So is resisting the media's promulagtion of impossible body types. Even at 120, a respectable size six, I am pretty damned far from the perfect body. And I'm never going to have it--all those years of ballet took their toll on my knees and hips. The vigorous exercise required to look like Demi Moore in Charlie's Angels is no longer possible. Still, it's hard not to look in the mirror and sigh. But I'm working on it.

Stay tuned for tomorrow night's rant: why I think low fat food products are a joke.

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