What I Eat Is Not Your Business

You mean you're judging me for what I eat?
You mean you're judging me for what I eat?

What I eat is not yours business. And what I put in my mouth is not your concern.

On Friday I read an article on The Guardian talking about women’s food choices, and why they’re constantly up for discussion by everyone around the woman, and I started thinking about my own experiences with this.

Growing up extremely skinny, it was a constant source of amusement for those around me to comment on my food choices. If I ate something unhealthy, the comments ranged from “Careful, you might get fat!” to “I’d eat that too if I looked like you”. If I ate something healthy, the comments were thick and fast – “no wonder you’re so skinny”, “you need to eat more than that”, “men won’t like you if you’re all skin and bone”. It was a constant source of frustration for me that eating became an opportunity for everyone else to comment on my body.

It was refreshing, and depressing, to learn I’m not alone.

Just last week I had a colleague comment on my food choices, marvelling at how “you always eat so healthy” and reminding me that what I put in my mouth is still the source of envy or concern of others. My response of unbridled laughter and the clarification that they must only see me on days I happen to be eating something healthy was met with an appraising glance and the assumption that, because of my body, I must be lying about my food choices.

But my body is not public property and what I choose to fuel it with is not your concern.

It wasn’t until reading the article on the Guardian that I thought about this as being sexist behaviour, but now I have seen it it’s staring me in the face. It happens a lot, every day, and it seems to happen almost exclusively to women.

I’m tired of living with the belief that, because of my genitals, my body is somehow your business. The belief that everything we do as women must somehow be designed to seek the approval of men. That the choices we make need to somehow be validated by the opposite sex, and that our appearance is designed to appeal to what “men” want.

But the really disturbing part was this – many of the comments I have received throughout my lifetime have been from other women. It reminds me of one simple fact – in many cases, the worst enemy of women is other women.

I find it equal parts disappointing and frightening that some of the greatest perpetrators of the everyday sexism that plagues womankind are women themselves.

Ladies, it’s time to bring back the sisterhood and stop letting the belief that our bodies are anyone’s concern but our own.

And for God’s sake – what I eat is not your business.

Has anyone ever commented on your food choices?

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  • http://darekatrina.wordpress.com Katrina

    Yes to everything you have said. I experienced it all. As a teenager I was so sick of listening to people talking about what I was eating or wasn’t eating I stopped eating in front of people. Of course that just made them talk about me being anorexic, which I wasn’t, but looking back I think they could have quite easily driven me to be. I became scared of food, and that is ridiculous. What I really needed to do was stand up to everyone but I wasn’t old enough or strong enough.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      It’s really hard to stand up to people in those situations. I still find it so much easier to stand up for others than for myself.

  • http://novamorganoz.blogspot.com.au/ Nova Morgan

    thankfully I am in a better place now, but once I was told I was a crap bulemic because I was still fat. Because of the hurtful stabs of commentary based around my food I dieted my way up to 130kg. I must say I didn’t realise how this commentary destroyed some parts of me, but looking back those voices are still clear in my mind so I know they impacted. The stranger on the train … after 2 days of not eating I grabbed a spring roll on the way home “no wonder she’s fat! just look at her stuffing her face! that’s disgusting!” …. moments like that make you die on the inside.

  • Hugzilla

    This is spot on – another example of the casual sexism that we have all internalised through social conditioning. Getting people to recognise and acknowledge it as such is the hard part I think,

  • http://livingmyimperfectlife.com/ Sanch Living Life

    No matter what you eat, people have a comment, don’t they? Surprisingly, unlike the original article in the guardian, comments about food and eating have been directed by women towards me. As you said, if you eat something unhealthy, there is a comment or if you eat something healthy, there is a comment too…
    It’s nobody’s business what we put in our bodies!

  • Hayley Ashman

    I work in a call centre so this happens a lot. Most of it seems to be related to checking out what diet people are on ect. I went and saw Lionel Shriver speak a few months ago and she was talking about how obsessed we are with food. Talking about it, thinking about it, researching it. She thinks we’d all be better off if we just went back to seeing fuel as food and stop letting it consume so much of our time.

  • http://www.theveggiemama.com Veggie Mama

    I hate anyone talking about what anyone eats ever.

  • http://emhawker.blogspot.com/ Emily

    Always. Like you, I grew up skinny skinny skinny and people always commented. Sometimes it was just one word – bitch. I was a bitch because I could eat a large McDonald’s meal with 20 nuggets without a second thought. Lucky, maybe (although now that I’m trying to break those bad habits I’d disagree!). Unfair, maybe. Bitch? Come on.
    We do it because it’s been done to us. Without thinking. We absolutely need to stop.

  • theworkher

    Such a great topic to bring up. I have been noticing this a lot lately! I met a young lawyer recently who feels she is being bullied at work (to a point where she wants to leave her job) over her eating/diet – she’s healthy and doesn’t necessarily want a piece of cake when it’s someones birthday. I think people don’t realise that it can really bother someone – it can start as a joke but then get blown out of proportion. I try to nip things like this in the bud early on, if you can !

  • http://www.goodfoodweek.blogspot.com/ Shari

    Growing up I’ve seen people comment like this towards my mum (who is petite but would eat just as much as my sister or I would). I think people think they have the right to comment about skinny women much more then the comment about overweight women… And for most skinny women it’s just genetics! So back of pudgy b*tches!

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      I don’t think that’s fair to say, I have certainly seen my friends who are overweight receive comments just as much as I ever have. I only wrote about the comments I’ve received for being skinny, but that’s because that’s my story to tell. I don’t think there’s any weight a woman can be that won’t receive comments about her food.