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I didn’t eat those donuts, but posted them anyway.

diy_3tier_dessert_cake_stand3

On Monday, while putting together a post on how to make a dessert stand, I realized that the post needed something to illustrate how desserts would sit on the stand. I have a strict “no sweets in the house you’re not willing to eat” policy, since I’m trying to curb my sugar intake, there were no desserts lingering around the house. I mean, who can live with donuts laying around? Those things are going to get eaten, right?

I put fruit on the dessert stand, meh. Not exciting. I put fake food on the stand. Even weirder. I realized I had to put SWEETS on the dessert stand, so off to the supermarket. I looked around for the biggest visual bang for the buck… cupcakes were kind of pricey. Cookies weren’t big enough. Donuts. Now we’re talking. The whole while, I was thinking… “But I’m trying to cut sugar. Will I be able to resist? What will I do with these donuts after I photograph them?”

The anxiety kept building. I had 18 donuts in my possession and I wanted to eat them all. Or at least one.

So I photographed the donuts, and each time I smelled them, my mouth watered. I started to shake like I really wanted to eat them.

But I didn’t.

I washed my hands even, not even licking my fingers for a “taste.” Because the previous week I fell for that while making cake for my son’s birthday party and ended up eating at least one cupcake’s worth of cake batter.

Sugar is a slippery slope.

I battled with the notion of throwing them away. Of spraying Windex on them so they would smell disgusting. Or ruining them somehow so I wouldn’t be tempted.

Then I thought how fucked up it was to think of that.

So at the end of the photo session. I washed my hands again, and placed them all neatly back in the packages, and drove the donuts to my son’s daycare, and gave the donuts to the care workers.

I did not eat the donuts.

I didn’t eat those donuts, but I DID eat this pizza.

While it was fucking hard to do (yes, that f-bomb is completely necessary)… NOT eating the donuts made me think of all the beautiful photos of food we put out there. How much of that food was junk food and why we fetishize gluttony. Posting the donuts on my Instagram account, I even got a comment… “I’m liking this post for the donuts.” Yesterday I posted a pizza (which I DID eat, and have witnesses to prove it!) and people commented how delicious that pizza looked. Yes, pizza is my favorite food. I love donuts.

NOT eating the donuts made me think of all the beautiful photos of food we put out there. How much of that food was junk food and why we fetishize our gluttony.

But in a world that rewards thinness and the ability to eat crazy food  (as long as you’re thin) what message does that really send? It’s ok for some people to eat certain food, but not others? That some people are above the laws of caloric intake?

How much social media love do you think broccoli gets?

A few years ago, the Daily Mail reported a new trend in eating disorders called “Liarexia” going out to eat and eating horrendous portions of carbs with your friends, then eating “clear soup” or whatever low calorie diet that person has at home in order to stay thin. Stating that thin women feel pressure to eat large portions or high-calorie junk foods either as a way of avoiding commentary about their bodies or as a way of giving the impression they don’t have to try to be thin.

It’s the dietary version of “having it all.” “Having it all” is the purple unicorn that makes us all feel bad about ourselves because it seems really cool, but doesn’t really exist.

I recognize I’m relatively thin, but not always. I have been everything from a size zero to a size 12, and I recognize I can comfortably hover around a size 4-6 without trying that hard. Like, pizza once a week, a burger once or twice a month and sweets, and walking for exercise. Granted a lot of my other meals are measured out and loosely portioned, it doesn’t feel like WORK. But to be a size 0? That always takes a lot of work and concentration for me. Sometimes I think it’s worth it, sometimes I don’t. Thus, I fluctuate.

This donut was photoshopped into the picture.

That said, I can’t help but to feel that this fetish of the thin person who eats junk food is weird, not cool (eloquent today?) and certainly not healthy. It’s the dietary version of “having it all.” “Having it all” is the purple unicorn that makes us all feel bad about ourselves because it seems really cool, but doesn’t really exist. Sure there are people who eat junk food and are thin, but they aren’t eating 4000 calories a day, every day, and not exercising.

There is the hugely divisive Instagram account of “YouDidNotEatThat” which satirically, albeit sometimes brutally, documents thin women who pose with carbs. I’ve been in the fashion industry long enough to know that a lot of size zeros have crazy eating habits that rarely includes donuts. For example, going to a lunch and ordering a iced coffee with half a Splenda. Or just pickles  Or take you to a bakery and order nothing at all. YES ALL THOSE THINGS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. So while it’s not cool to make fun of people, there is the larger issue of rewarding thin people for eating crap, or at least giving the impression they are eating crap. What’s interesting about YDNET is that it’s one of the first viral social media accounts that addresses the absurdity of this fetish.

Obviously, I don’t have a real answer here. I’m very aware of my own bullshit. It’s just this thing that I’m noticing, and it kind of needs to be talked about.

What do you think about the obsession with food that’s bad for us?

jennineI didn’t eat those donuts, but posted them anyway.

Comments 14

  1. Jessica

    I’ve been everything from vegan to paleo and have posted photos of all kinds of food online (and photos of my before and after Whole 30 continue to be my highest source of traffic 15 months after posting). But ok. What i really wanted to say is that food should be both emotionally and nutritionally satisfying and striking a balance is the middle has worked best for me. Yes, love been paleo and really toned, but also love grandma’s pie recipe and weekly donuts (and full disclosure I’m 7.5 months preggs and eat anything/everything these days). Like I said earlier, I like posting all kinds of food pics because I really love to eat. What I cannot stand, on the other hand is the Instagram photo of macaroons, $400 sunglasses, nail polish and peonies all in the same photo. :)

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      jennine

      That is such a good point! Food should have a (positive) emotional component as well as nutritional value. People often forget about that… and get caught up in what they should or shouldn’t be eating. Finding a good balance is key to being happy both about food and figure.

      And YES! Eat what you like. I was being pressured not to eat carbs the last trimester. I could not resist bread! Anyway, my baby came out fine, although he really likes bread.

  2. déjà pseu

    I used to think there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t eat like a lumberjack and stay at a healthy weight. I think it’s another one of those unrealistic expectations placed on women: we’re supposed to stay thin but eat everything, we’re supposed to be “low maintenance” but still look gorgeous ALL THE TIME, etc. It’s all supposed to be (or seem) “effortless,” that we’re never supposed to struggle or have setbacks of bad skin days.

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      jennine

      Oh my god… I remember from my thinner days when eating things like fried chicken people would marvel and say, “Oh you can eat anything you want.” It was weirdly flattering? But to no avail, I cannot eat fried chicken and be a size zero.

      That idea of “low maintenance” drives me nuts. Especially when it comes from people who expect others to look fabulous all the time. What kind of crazy planet are they from?

  3. Natalie

    So glad you are opening up the dialogue on this. Also, I am so happy you didn’t eat the donuts! It’s not just the sugar. They are fried in a big bucket of oil that may or may not be cleaned regularly. (Cholesterol overload!) I have to remind that to myself whenever I pass donuts and the smell is tempting me. Because heck ya I would want to eat one too! But as we are getting older, I also realize that I get a longer satisfaction of feeling better when I really eat better. There is no “having it all”. That is an illusion and you can’t be thin eating junk food consistently and not hit a wall at some point in terms of health or weight. I think just being happy is more important than a size 0 and eating what you want in moderation is the key.

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      jennine

      YES. That’s one of the things the “no added sugar” thing is teaching me, the value of eating food that makes me FEEL good, not just taste good. And yes, regarding the size 0. When I reflect on the times when I was a size 0… they were hardly ever happy times. It’s all about finding that balance.

  4. Alison

    Recently I made the decision to stop sharing any sort of food on Instagram. As an overweight woman, it’s hard to share Buffalo wings or birthday cake without feeling guilty (or receive nasty comments from strangers). But sharing only “healthy” food isn’t accomplishing anything positive either. I’m not a food blogger, so I’ve decided to not be part of the #foodporn fetish. Food can be extremely personal, addictive, and a way to show off affluence and it’s weird and awful how people now see eating (and usually just pretending to eat) junk or large quantities of food as “cool.” Very Cool Girl Syndrome http://www.annehelenpetersen.com/?p=3201

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      jennine

      Oh man… that was such a good post. I had to read it a few times… and now I have to see or read Gone Girl. I could talk forever about that “cool girl” thing… which was actually something I aspired to be (but never really quite got).

      You are right though, food is so personal and emotional. I think the judgment is coming from the same place… expecting women to have it all… be thin, eat what they “want” (meaning junk food). Meanwhile trying to do better, it’s like, “why can’t you be thin AND eat donuts?” Ug. No one ever wins.

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  5. Kristen

    If we eat more calories than we burn off, we gain weight, period. Younger and athletic people have higher metabolisms than older people, yes. Younger/active people can eat more calories than older/less active folks. Genetics also play a role, but not as much as most people think (http://www.cdc.gov/features/obesity/) All this stuff—pretending to eat a donuts every day and not gain weight, pretending you never eat but mysteriously gain weight, no sugar/no carb/all protein/whatever diets—are all methods of avoiding the reality of how our bodies work. The super thin girls in these photos with donuts, etc., want us to think they’re magical. Me too—I want to be magic, because I want to eat the ice cream AND be thin and healthy! Sadly I’m mortal, as are these women on Instagram. Unless one has an illness or a special situation, our bodies are math. There are no shortcuts. The more we face the realities of eating and the necessity of exercise, the healthier we’ll be and the less we’ll torture each other (and ourselves).

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      jennine

      This is all very true. I love how you put it, there are no shortcuts. I do think there are crazy powers at work here, like imagery in the media, have you ever seen a McDonald’s commercial with fat people in it? No, the people in the commercials are always thin, happy, and the food looks delicious. Or the cool girl who can eat a whole pizza pie and drink a six pack. Part of it is the super thin girls wanting us to think they are magic, but I also think there is a part of us that WANTS them to be magic. Like if they can do it, we can do it too? If only we could find that perfect workout or that perfect diet pill… then it would happen. As if!

  6. Courtney

    I recently saw this account on Instagram too and thought it was definitely interesting. I get what it’s saying, but at the same time I don’t. I’m sure models and celebs have crazy diets and don’t actually eat the things they post. However, I’m sure most of the bloggers that post the food, actually eat the food. I know that I do, I love food WAY too much not to eat it. Just because someone is skinny doesn’t always mean they eat healthy ALL of the time. Loved that you brought this up though on your blog though!

    http://breakfastatvogue111.blogspot.com/

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