We’re coming up on the Christmas season, which in the countries where most Shapelings live means that lots of people, Christmas-celebrators or not, take their one big break a year and go on vacation or visit their families. Every women’s magazine and lifestyle section in existence is having a feature on holiday overeating right now, and why should we be left out of the fun just because we think eating is okay? After all, in a lot of ways, food-heavy occasions like the holidays are extra fraught for fatties (even when those fatties practice HAES and self-respect). So I hereby present the Shapely Prose guide to dealing with holiday overeating.
1. Expect some. I have no illusions about the fact that I will eat a LOT of Christmas cookies — undoubtedly more, in retrospect, than I will wish I’d eaten. I could make this into a huge psychodrama where my willpower has failed me; I could inscribe my cookie eating as “compulsive” and flagellate myself for it; I could bewail my complicity in a culture of overconsumption. Or I could recognize that like many people, fat and thin — like most fat or thin Christmas celebrators who aren’t on a medical or weight-loss diet, I’d wager, and some who are — I am going to eat lots of cookies and go home with a little bit of a stomachache. Whatever. They’re cookies, not uranium.
2. Eat emotionally. People have been celebrating and bonding over feasts together since the dawn of human civilization (and maybe before). Negative talk about “emotional eating” sends the message that a rumbling stomach is the only valid reason for a meal. That might be true if we were all eating gray pap at solitary tables in Camazotz. But, fat or thin, food makes us happy and eating together makes us feel connected and thankful. Go with it.
3. Be good to yourself. Amidst all the holiday bounty, one thing you won’t see me eating this season is meatball subs (though there will very likely be some). I discovered at an earlier family Christmas that a) meatball subs are delicious b) they make me feel so sick you can’t believe. I like tasty food but I am not a sucker. The only obligation you have as far as “watching what you eat” this holiday season is your responsibility to your own health and comfort. Don’t make yourself crazy, but at the same time don’t make yourself ill.
4. You don’t have to be the fatbassador. Whatever your relationship to your fat and your family, whatever your family’s relationship to your fat, you don’t have to represent all fat people to them. Eat food you think is nice — don’t eat to say “fuck you, I’m not dieting.” Avoid food you don’t want to eat — don’t abstain to say “look, fat people aren’t gluttons.” It’s tempting at family occasions to try to send messages with what you choose to eat and not eat, but you end up punishing yourself to make a point that probably won’t even get heard. If you want to have this out with your family, use your words; if you want to avoid it for the sake of family harmony, you are hereby off the activist hook for the season.
Feel free to use this thread as a place to grouse about family — or let us know your favorite holiday traditions (like, say, avoiding family?).