Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dieting as Bonding

Last Friday, Little Circus' preschool class had an ice cream party to celebrate the end of the school year. Because LC is both vegan and allergic to dairy, I decided not to risk the teachers giving her anything with milk in it (which has happened more than once, unfortunately) and skipped out of work to attend the party, a pint of Soy Delicious in hand.

After all the kids had been served there was a ton of ice cream and assorted toppings left over, and the teacher invited all the parents to fix themselves a bowl. The men didn't hesitate to go over and start scooping up ice cream and load up on sprinkles, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries. The women, however, all physically took a step or two back and started reciting a list of why they couldn't have any. South Beach. Atkins. Not enough Weight Watchers Points left. Summer is coming. Bikinis.

I offered some of our soy ice cream. No takers. I fixed myself a bowl, topped with bananas and strawberries, and felt uncomfortable while the other moms made comments and watched me out of the corner of their eyes.

Here was a group of women that for the preceding half hour had litttle to say to each other, even though our kids spend every day together and talk about each other constantly. As soon as food was brought up, though, it was like Old Home Week. Women were talking about all the different ways they had tried to lose weight, giving specific numbers for current weight and goal weight, and comparing notes.

I don't get it. Why is it so much easier - and socially accepted - for women to talk about what size their pants are and how much they miss eating food they like as opposed to talking about anything more substantial? I'd rather know that Suzy's mom is a nurse who likes to kayak on the weekends rather than know that she's happy she's in ketosis and has to eat Metamucil wafers. Or know that Sam's mom organizes a yearly clothing drive to send things to her relatives back in Cuba, not that she only has coffee and toast for breakfast and only eats one meal a day.

Are the conspiracy theorists right? Are we conditioned to sidestep meaningful (or at least not totally fluffy) conversation and focus on how we look so that we don't organize and overthrow the patriarchy?


Blogger Shaula Evans said...

Yeah, the conspiracy theorists are right.

My version of that one is that they keep us conditioned to starve ourselves and take pride in our dysfunction so that we are too physically weak (from our regimes of coffee and metamusal) and too metaphysically weak (from our socially-sanctioned obsessive narcisism) to rock the boat.

I hope you enjoy your Soy Dream (or whatever brand it was) and keep being a great subversive boat rocker and a great mother.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Grace said...

What a great post. I, too, think the conspiracy theorists are mostly right on this one. Sadly. The question is, how do we change it?

7:21 AM  

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