I recently read a heartbreaking story of a mother who simultaneously dealt with issues of her weight and her son’s fatal cancer. While pregnant with her second child and sitting with her eldest in the hospital, she realized she hadn’t eaten in three days. The nurses convinced her to have a bowl of mac and cheese. She recalls taking the first bite and hearing her son’s breathing slow. She said she felt selfish thinking she’d miss her son’s last breath while eating mac and cheese.
Conversely, my husband showed me a video of a fight that broke out at a popular fast food chain. It was due to a heated argument over who was going to order next, when this woman HIT THE FAN (and gave no cares)!
Both stories gripped me, mostly because of my reactions: I immediately passed judgement on the women. In the first story, the woman was thin. What does she know about weight issues?! In the video, I wondered about this larger woman’s thought process. Surely she knew what people standing by would think, right?! After all, diet culture teaches that fat women = lazy, lovers of fried, unhealthy foods.
Over the next couple of days, this conversation kept bubbling up as I struggled with feelings of pity vs. body acceptance; judgement vs. not wanting to judge.
When I met with my voice of reason, she countered that there IS such a thing as healthy judgement – it’s an emotion just like happiness or embarrassment. Although admitting these realizations is both mortifying and infuriating as it sheds light on the diet culture lies I’ve grown to believe.
Maybe our ability to now differentiate between what’s true and not is the most important transformation.