A very UN-glossy look at popular culture... and whatever else takes my fancy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Food Guilt?

When I get bored, I eat. And at work I get bored one hell of a lot. I can't stand to just sit there typing away when I know that the vending machine is only just outside the door, calling to me sweetly with promises of stodge, fat and empty carbs.

So, needless to say, I sit munching at my desk quite regularly. There are two reasons I should be ashamed of this - firstly, it's a waste of money to buy over-priced muck when I'm not even hungry, and secondly, I really should think about my poor little heart and just how much faster it'll have to beat to push my blood through all those clogged-up arteries. But I always spend money like water without so much of an ounce of guilt, and years of smoking, drinking and drug use suggest I quite frankly don't give a shit about my body either. But as I sit there munching, chewing and crunching, I still feel shame and embarassment as I put yet another Mars to my lips. Why? Whenever I pig out on my own or with close friends I don't give it a second thought. Why do I suddenly feel guilty when I do it at work?

Yes, I have come to the realisation that, for some reason or other, I always feel embarassed eating in front of people I don't know very well. I'm naturally slim, so it's not as if I'm worrying about people whispering and saying 'ooooooh look at her, no wonder she's so fat with the amount she eats'. In the past I've felt guilty for stuffing my face in front of friends who I knew were overweight and trying to slim down, but this isn't the case at work. Maybe it's from watching all those police-of-the-saucepans on TV, Jamie Oliver and Gillian McKeith, hovvering over fattys' shoulders and shreiking expletives at them the moment they so much as smell something that isn't calorie-free beans and cabbage mush. Have we become so bullied by these kitchen watchdogs that we can't enjoy a single dorito without feeling the need to bathe ourselves in holy water and beg for redemption?

But if this was the case, then why does it only seem to be females who experience public food consumption shame? A quick survey around my friends shows that I'm not the only sufferer - in fact, it seems a pretty common affliction. However, I am yet to come across a single male who feels the same. In fact, the idea of a man being embarassed to eat in front of others seems pretty ridiculous - most of the ones I know will happily chomp on piles of less-than-nutritious cuisine without a second thought. One could suggest that it is because women feel more pressure to stay slim and toned, and so feel more guilty when eating as they know that they're not performing in the way that is expected of them, ie. not making their appearance their number one priority at all times.

But I don't think it's completely about body image. I think it has more to do with the fact that women are made to feel guilty and shameful about persuing and experiencing pleasure. We are sluts if we enjoy sex, we are selfish and shallow if we enjoy our careers more than the role of motherhood, we are cold bitches if we show ambition and desire to get to a certain point or place in life, we are stupid and reckless if we enjoy drinking alcohol and we are fat ugly slobs if we enjoy gorging ourselvs on food. Men may have similar lectures about healthy eating and exercise to us, but there is not a trace of thought in society that they should ever deny themselves pleasure. More to the point, men over the decades have thought their pleasure to be far more important than any of the lives or rights of others. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a complete hedonist - I believe in taking responsibilty and helping others around you rather than putting your needs before everyone else's. But if there's no harm to be done and no one to be hurt, then what's wrong with a good old spot of pleasure persuit? Why should we feel guilty if the only person we may be endangering is ourselves? So ladies, let's hear a massive 'FUCK 'EM ALL', bring the chocolate to your lips and swallow. Hard.