Seems only fitting that I talk about the book I’m reading after I post about Spanx.
(Before I begin, I must address the need for a comma between Women and Food in Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God. This book is not about a cuisine called women food. Okay, my inner editor feels better now.)
This book discusses using food as a spiritual growth opportunity. I don’t know about you, but at times I “live in a limbo world in which the taste of food is all you know of heaven and the size of your thighs is all you know of hell.” When extremes like this are present, so to is a spiritual growth opportunity.
Some people go to an ashram in India and follow a guru to awaken spiritually. Some of us have bodies that allow us to use our relationship with the food on our plates every single day to helps us awaken. Lucky us.
In my life, I haven’t had extreme bouts of eating disorders. Thank God (truly). But I have had an underlying constant love/hate relationship with food and my body. I don’t binge. I don’t starve. But I do notice everything that goes into my mouth, I calculate it and judge it accordingly. And, in my experience of myself, I have linked the size of my body to the worth of being.
Skinny = More Lovable. Period.
The other day, I was at a dress shop with a friend of mine. I tried on the most beautiful dress. The kind of dress that makes your good bits look really good and your bad bits look surprisingly good. It was amazing. I beamed. When I showed him the dress, he didn’t gush.
He said it was nice.
But he didn’t gush.
He didn’t gush or look at me in any way other than the way he usually looks at me.
He isn’t expected to look at me differently. We’re just friends.
But in this moment where Skinny = More Lovable, I expected a more loving reaction from him. After all, I look more skinny so he better look at me more lovingly dammit.
None of this is his fault. He had no idea how to react. He is not aware of my Skinny = More Lovable equation. He was standing there and nodding approvingly, which is FINE. Fine.
So I seethed privately as I changed out of the dress. The sales lady called over the change room door, “Did he like the dress?”
“He thought it was fine.”
“Oh.” Silence. “Well, what does he know. You look stunning in that dress.”
“Ya, what does he know.” Somehow, women gush is not important.
It’s so easy to fall into despair. I was happy when I saw myself in the dress and was immediately devastated when he didn’t react in a way that is congruent with my belief that Skinny = More Lovable.
In Woman Food and God we examine why we developed thought beliefs such as Skinny = More Lovable. We search for root causes, we gain clarity and we learn how break these beliefs down. Was it our mothers? Was being skinny their way to keep our fathers happy and close to home? Was their equation: Become Fat = A Broken Home? Or was it our mothers’ mothers? Were our grandmothers conservative with food portions because there wasn’t enough food to go around? Was their equation Binge = Starve? Then did our mothers take on a restrictive food habit that trickled down to us?
Somehow, pondering these questions helped me break out of some of my own bad habits with food. It’s not the food itself that is bad. It’s my reaction to it that could use work. And my reaction to my body. And my reaction to other people’s reactions.
I don’t understand why in reading this book, I’ve become more calm about all of it. Maybe it has something to do with doing the work outlined in the book, or it has something to do with grace or even, it may have something to do with God.