Eating is punk rock as f*ck

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

I used to be afraid of enjoying food.

Of course, I never disclosed this fear to a living soul. I knew dieting was too feminine, and feminine things were the kryptonite of cool. The cool girl never wasted her cool time on girly bullshit like makeup or hair because she was too busy kicking ass at rugby or jamming with her punk rock band, but somehow her pubescent oil field of a face never showed a red pimple and her hair shimmered like a mermaid’s. Likewise, the cool girl ate fries and burgers with abandon but maintained a supermodel figure. I knew deep down I could never be a cool girl because my face, hair, and body were still unfairly subject to the laws of biophysics and adolescence, but I realized that I could simply fake it. I could act like a cool girl, playing sports and rocking out on my guitar, while secretly sliding on some shiny lip gloss in the bathroom. Likewise, I could order fries and a chocolate milkshake and pretend to consume them without any premeditated thought, when in reality I’d toss the shake after a few unsatisfying sips.

As an adult, I can’t help but wonder: was every cool girl playing the same game? We’re we all acting wild and pretending to give zero fucks while all secretly controlling our bodies with the devotion of the North Korean police state? How did we not all internally combust upon lighting that joint at Amy Whateverherlastname’s sweet sixteen?

Of course, my cibophobia, or fear of food, didn’t form in a vacuum. Growing up in the American Midwest in the 2000s, we lived in what’s now called diet culture like worms live in mud. We couldn’t even smell the shit because it permeated every aspect of our existence. We were constantly being reminded that our hunger and cravings were enemies to be annihilated with the skills and mindset of the greatest samurai.

We would go to buy notebooks at the corner store and be instantly affronted with candy-colored magazines displaying perfect bikini bodies, their stomachs seeming even smaller behind the bold print of “How to lose 2 pounds a day,” “Tricks to ‘just say no’ to calories,” and “the lemon juice cleanse” (otherwise known as intentionally starving yourself). Supermarkets were flanked with substitutes of substitutes, which never marketed what they contained, but what they didn’t: fat-free turkey bacon, calorie-free Jello, tubs of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®

Shopping — that all-American teenage pastime — was $15/week crash course in the perils of excess body fat. This was the heyday of brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, whose shirts only came in a size mouse or baby mouse. We would plug our noses past the fog machines they rigged to spew out strip-club scented cologne and try to squeeze our tiny pre-pubescent frames into their tube tops, determined to be as white and thin and subjugated as plastic Barbie dolls. Then, every once in a while, one of our classmates would disappear for a few weeks on an unplanned “family vacation.” We all knew that meant rehab for an eating disorder. We would grit our teeth in jealousy.

Anyway, the point is I never allowed myself to love food, because I was so sucked into the stupid diet mentality that I thought loving food would make you fat, and being fat would make you unattractive, and being unattractive would make you no longer worthy of existence on this planet as a female.

Now that I can see through the bullshit of this twisted logic, designed to keep (mostly women) insecure so that they’ll keep buying promised solutions to “cure” the disease of being living creatures with biological needs instead of sex robots, I wish more than anything that I could Freaky Friday my way back to my teenage self and shake her. No one should be afraid to love food, because food is one of the most incredible and wonderful parts of being alive. And no one should be anything but grateful to have constant access to sustenance, to the calories and fats your body needs to thrive and grow.

Now, I love food. I fucking love it. I think about it all day. I meet my friends and talk about what I’ve eaten recently. I go to bed and think about what I’ll make for dinner the next day. I stock my fridge like I’m setting up my own reality-show contest, challenging myself to make artichokes, gorgonzola, strawberries, and fish sauce become a dish.

I used to think I was punk rock because I listened to the right 80’s underground and wore bracelets with metal spikes (while presenting as thin, white, and acceptably within my performative gender). Of course, my perfect rendition of meaningless non-conformity couldn’t have better served to sustain the mainstream bullshit.

Now I know there’s nothing more punk rock than putting on my apron and preparing a giant motherfucking cake with stone-ground organic flour from the local mill, then inviting everyone I know to my house to eat it slowly like we have all the time in the fucking world. It is the biggest middle finger you’ve got against the corporate, bottom-line, burger-stuffing, planet-destroying, rat-race system.

In a world of fast food and fast living, taking your motherfucking time to cook and eat real food, real slow, is an act of subversion. It is the best and most satisfying way to defy the status quo. Trust me. Or fuck off.

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