Stop Apologizing and Eat, Damn It!

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On the weekend, I was gifted with tickets to Lobsterfest. Lobsterfest is a huge fundraiser with a silent auction, live auction, alcohol, and of course, lobster. Now, if Lobster was the only food offering there I would not be writing this post as, although I have attempted it many times and want to love it, I hate lobster. It makes me gag. Actually, I think I just puked in my mouth thinking about it and the treasures that were found inside as I sat back and watched my fellow tablemates rip it apart and dig out its innards.

Oh, gross. Excuse me for a moment while my breakfast attempts to resurface….

Alright, I’m back. Where was I? Oh yes, leaving the topic of sea bugs and moving onto the rest of the meal.

Thankfully, they also served salads, shrimp, potatoes, steak, garlic bread and an assortment of desserts. Actually, I found the meal quite funny but also delicious. Actually, the only funny part was the fact when I got to the table to dish my food, the baked potatoes were wrapped in tinfoil and nestled in a beautiful serving platter, and by serving platter I mean, a blue Rubbermaid Bin. Yes, the plastic ones used for storage. Only in our town….(and probably every other small or large town hosting such an event. That’s what makes these events what they are.)

Anyways….

As I said, I enjoyed my meal, having passed my lobster onto someone who could actually eat it without puking. I enjoyed it because I was looking forward to a night out, a chance to get away and visit with my friends, and to eat a meal that I hadn’t had to plan or cook. So when I stepped up to the table, I eagerly took from all of the dishes with my only thoughts being, “Ooh! This looks good!” and “Where’s the butter?

However, I never had a chance to voice these thoughts aloud, as I was drowned out by the voices around me and the shock at what I was hearing.

Would you like to know what that was?

Okay, I’ll tell you.

Lined up along the buffet tables were women and men. What were the men doing? Piling as much food as they possibly could onto their paper plates. They were getting their money’s worth out of the food that night, let me tell you. And that is a good thing, because someone should have enjoyed it and it sure did not seem like the women were. Now, this is no comment on the flavor or preparing of the dishes, this is a comment on the sad state of women and their relationship with food.

All along the table I heard women making excuses for the food they were about to eat. Comments made on the fat content of shrimp, or the lastest diet that prevents one from taking the salad because of the fat content of the dressing. One woman actually took a potato and apologized while she did so, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m just a carbaholic.” The she opened it up and said, “Well, at least there is skin on it so I can say it’s slightly nutritious.”

It’s a potato!!!! Last I checked they were a vegetable. And even if they weren’t, who cares? It was a goddamn potato! Why did she have to apologize for taking it? They were serving potatoes. I’m pretty sure the plan had been for us all to serve ourselves as much as we wanted without having to feel bad or guilty about it.

Oh, but it gets worse.

The next woman behind her stated, “Well, I will at least look for a small one.”

And the man across from her (the one with what looked like the entire tray of shrimp on his plate) said, “My wife only took half.”

Why? Because she’s not allowed a full sized potato? Because eating one entire potato at a special event that comes once a year would do, what? Make their body explode and jump up four dress sizes?

It’s a fucking potato!!!!!!

Apologize to me for butting in line, for putting your elbow in my food, for ripping open your lobster and squirting the disgusting sea juice in my eye. Do not apologize to me for taking a potato. Or to yourself, for that matter.

Should I have apologized for the butter and sour cream and bacon I loaded onto mine? Should I have tried to make someone understand why I needed to add that to my already sinful root vegetable? “Oh,” should I have said, “I’m so sorry. I know I should not eat anything as bad for me as a potato with sour cream and butter, I know I should be ashamed. However, I just really do like it and I am here at this event and I am hungry and I ever so want to eat this enticing baked potato. The guy in front of me took three and he didn’t feel bad or apologize. So, I should be allowed just one measly potato, shouldn’t I? I won’t be struck down by the hand of Aphrodite for shaming women everywhere and ruining my figure with a few measly carbs, would I?”

Let me make one thing clear. I am not making fun of that woman and her friend for apologizing. I am disgusted with the fact that they felt they should in the first place.

And no, I’m not basing my opinion on two women who could have been an anomaly, because they weren’t. All along the line I heard similar comments. And that was just at the meal. Things only got worse when the dessert trays came out.

Dessert was fruit trays and an assortment of squares. And by assortment of squares, I mean, tiny little squares of brownie, raisin cake, and other things made of butter and sugar and flour. Really, they could have been eaten in two bites. Three dainty ones if you were trying to be polite, or you could have just popped an entire square into your mouth at once if you had no intention on savoring the flavor. They were that small.

And yet, again, the women made apologies, excuses, and explanations for taking such extravagant items. Either they’d exercised that day so they were allowed a square (but just one!), or they had already eaten something bad that day so they weren’t allowed a square, or they would take mostly fruit to make up for the tiny brownie, and so on and so on. There was no piling of the plates, no exclamations on their decadence, just reasons why or why not they could allow or not allow such an item into their diet for the day. Oh, I’m sorry, there was some piling of the plates. But only because they were, “going to share.”

Trust me, I get the struggle with food. And I could just as easily have been one of those women who was making excuses for what was on my plate if I had been in a different mood. Hell, I’m sure I’ve been one of them at some time or another. But I had decided to just go and enjoy myself. Lobsterfest comes once a year and big dinners and events do not come about everyday, at least not for me. So why waste it worrying about what was on your plate? Why do the men get to walk in there and pile up their plates, guilt-free, while the women have to apologize and make excuses for their food? Why can’t we just eat one goddamn meal and be happy about it? Enjoy every carb, sugar, fat and chemical we’ve put onto our plates.

Why must we suffer ourselves to fight with our meals?

And it wasn’t just the food. It was everything. It was the fact that all those women were dressed up and looking amazing, and instead of walking around the area with pride, they were glaring at everyone else. Glaring with that lens of self-judgment, self-measurement. Is she prettier than me? Does she look better than me? Why is she wearing that? Am I overdressed? Is she underdressed? Who gives her the right to strut like that? Who does she think she is? Why would he be with her?

You could see those questions in so many eyes. Questions we have all had cross our minds at one point or another. Questions that are not so much about the other person but about ourselves. The kind of questions that came from a lack of our own self esteem, a lack of confidence and self-love. The kind of glares that arise because we feel that we are not good enough. That look you give the girl who you feel is skinnier or prettier than you, who will “show you up,” and draw all the gazes her way. The girl you whisper bitchy comments about behind her back because you are jealous you aren’t her, or don’t look like her, or figure she’s got it easier than you. Even though that girl might very well be hating herself and thinking she looks fat in her dress, or feeling uncomfortable because her pantyline might be showing or her stomach is growling because she is starving as the only way to stay so damn skinny is to starve herself day in and day out. But you don’t know that because you are too busy comparing yourself to her to bother wondering if she just might have the same struggles as you.

There were some women in there who would smile when you met their gaze. There were some that did not look you up and down in a critical comparison. There were some who did not seem uncomfortable or miserable or insecure. These were the ones that piled the food on their plates and ate like they were having a great time. These were the women that did not apologize for taking an extra brownie or the biggest potato. These were the ones that ate their garlic toast and maybe even dipped it in the garlic butter reserved for the lobsters. These were the women who, even if only for that night, were happy in their own skin. Were able to forget about their waistline or their cellulite or the number on the scale long enough to know they were good enough just how they were and there was no need to apologize for anything.

These were the women we should all be. Because life is too short to feel bad about eating a potato or to compare ourselves to that girl in the too-tight-too-short dress. Because, when you are scowling at everyone around you, when you don’t feel you measure up, when you don’t feel you deserve a entire potato, people can see that. It shines right through you, or actually, does the opposite. It dulls your shine. It takes away your light. And your light, your love of self, yoru ability to walk into a room and not make a single excuse for anything, is what makes you beautiful. And once you have that, once you feel like the beautiful woman you are, one potato cannot ever take that away.

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