I don’t usually talk feminism, but I just read this post on the funny and poignant I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog, and needed to chime in. In the piece, Katherine asks her fellow women to stop judging each other, comparing bodies, and doing all those other little everyday things that we may not even notice we’re doing, and don’t always think of as standing in the way of gender equality.
Now, obviously, for our own sanity and peace of mind, as well as for the sake of being nice to other people, we need to stop mentally and verbally saying things like, “She’s prettier than I am,” “I’m prettier than she is,” “How does that bitch stay so thin?” and “Why doesn’t that bitch lay off the donuts?” Obviously, this needs to stop. What not-so-obviously needs to stop, and just as urgently, are the comments we make to our friends that make them feel bad in ways that we don’t realize. For example:
4. I Can’t Believe You Ate the Whole Thing
I know you don’t mean it in a mean way. And I know that you think that just because you’re friends, or just because she’s skinnier than you, you think this is OK to say, in a some-of-my-best-friends-are-black kind of way. It’s not OK. It will make her second guess everything she eats for the rest of the day, and it will make her second guess everything she eats in front of you for the rest of the month.
3. I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing
I know you think this is OK because it’s self-deprecating and not judging the woman you’re saying it to, but what if she was about to go for seconds, and now she feels like she can’t because you’ll think she’s a pig? Also, what exactly is your reason for saying this? And how do you expect her to respond? Are you just saying this as a reflex because you think that women need to apologize for eating? If so, stop. Eating is what keeps us alive. We shouldn’t feel ashamed that we do it. Men don’t apologize every time they indulge and neither should we.
2. We Walked Here, So We Deserve These Cupcakes
That may be true, but your voicing that sentiment actually has the opposite effect that you want it to. As mentioned in the last example, we women have a bad habit of constantly needing to justify what and why we’re eating. It’s completely redundant. Yes, this cupcake is a not-for-every-day treat. Yes, we’ve walked off some of the calories, so it probably won’t go straight to our hips. Can we move on from the justification and enjoy our freaking cupcakes now? Because dwelling on it is just going to ruin the enjoyment, and we’re not enjoying it, then really, what’s the point?
1. Is That All You’re Eating?
Just because something isn’t an insult, doesn’t mean it isn’t a judgment. Our society happens to be in an unfortunate place right now where slimness is widely considered such an attractive quality that women should sacrifice their health and happiness to achieve it in its most extreme form. That means, sadly, that many women feel bad about the size of their bodies, and deprive themselves of food to a point that becomes physically and mentally dangerous.
That does NOT mean that every single time a woman eats a salad, it’s because she thinks she’s fat, and needs you to tell her she’s not. She might just not be that hungry. When you call a woman out on not eating enough, it’s not mean in the way that, say, mocking her for eating too much is. It might even make her feel good for a minute. But in the long run, even under the best of circumstances, where that woman with the salad says “you know what? I will have a grilled cheese with this! Thank you for the compliment!” it still reinforces the walls of the world in which we live, where women are keeping tabs on each other’s eating habits, the good and the bad. And we’re never going to achieve, say, pay equality, if we’re too busy spying on each other’s lunches and making judgment calls about whether or not they’re up to our standards.
What other ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments.