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Food and Form

January 26, 2010

I’m sitting at the computer, finishing up a delicious salad, and thinking about food.  My next door neighbor growing up was a career lunch lady: hairnet, apron, and ice cream scoop her tools of choice.  For over twenty years, one could visit the lunch room and hear the flop-splat of mashed potatoes and turkey-gravy surprise leaving her ice cream scoop to land upon thousands of trays.  I was one of the kids in that line – and one who ate lunch for free every day, making myself and my brother no better than stray animals, according to S.C. Lt. Gov Andre Bauer.

Apparently, by enabling children who could not otherwise afford to eat, the free lunch program encourages dependency upon the government for handouts.

I can tell you that I’ve never depended on the government for anything nor expected any kind of handout, and I know I’m not alone.  It has been my experience that those who help and provide aid are one’s family and community, not the government.  The government did not take me in when I had no place to go; my friends did. Growing up, the only thing I knew that the government could provide was an out via joining the military, where a person was likely to come back emotionally scarred or in a body bag.

Getting a free lunch every day didn’t encourage dependence; it enabled me to concentrate on school instead of my hunger.  Punishing a child for the poverty of the parent is ludicrous – not to mention outdated.  Didn’t we do away with visiting the sins to the seventh generation with the introduction of the (relative) peace and love of the new testament?

Beauty and the BMI

We are taught from a young age that slimness is analogous to beauty, and that one must always strive to be beautiful.  If one weighs over a certain amount, they must be a compulsive overeater who lacks in table manners and probably smells funny, too.  Big is not beautiful, it is not bold, it is not glamorous.  It is slovenly and uncouth. It takes up too much space. If one is a person of size, they expected to try this fad pill or that popular diet to melt the pounds away – and just as expected to fail.

The Mayo Clinic endorses this with their new diet, saying “if you’re overweight, you’ve probably tried many diet and weight-loss plans, yet the weight keeps coming back.” Of course, if you use their diet, the pounds will melt off, never to be seen again, and you’ll be happier, sexier, and more successful. And if you’re successful with your diet and a Whole Foods employee, you can save even more money on your food — because you weigh less!  Not only is being skinny sexy, it gets you a discount on your groceries.

Our cultural icons are super-slim superstars who, often as not, suffer from eating disorders, and they aren’t alone; an estimated 8 million Americans also suffer from some form of eating disorder. We need to move beyond the pervasive and harmful expectation that we are expected to change our bodies to fit an often unattainable standard of beauty, learn to recognize the authentic beauty that exists in each and every one of us, and realize that each and every one of is genuinely beautiful regardless of size.

We need to understand that health is not tied solely to cholesterol level or blood pressure or if a person can count their ribs.  Healthy, beautiful, successful, sexy people come in all sizes and shapes.  We are all beautiful, as we are, right now.  You are beautiful.