Take It Back —
As hectic and frustrating and terrorizing as the holidays can be, there’s something so warm and comfy about gathering with loved ones we may not see on a regular basis, as well as those special few for whom once a year is pushing the limit. I know I’m very fortunate for the family I was raised with and the family I was welcomed into, which is why family the first thing I’m grateful for on this day.
But I know there are many who struggle with a holiday that’s centered around food and eating, since being fat and enjoying food is crime unto itself. I know fat people who have received the disapproving look of the relative for having a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day. Hell, I know fat people who only ever eat privately because of a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back nightmare of public humiliation.
Let’s face it, some people are assholes, and unfortunately, sometimes those assholes are also part of our family.
But here’s the thing about familial assholes: they qualify for the Fuck That Noise treatment just as much as strangers. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but sharing an unasked-for opinion about your weight or how many carbs are in mashed potatoes and stuffing is a taserable offense. Did I ask for the name of a great gym where they’re really nice? No? *ZAP* You’re in timeout.
That would be so much easier. Instead, we are forced by custom, tradition and a blind-eye toward the atrocities at the root of Thanksgiving to act polite as we’re treated as if we’re too stupid to know about this thing called “exorcise” and “vejeetabbles.”
And so, on this Thanksgiving, I would like to remind you that when any person gives you an unwelcome lecture about your body, you are welcome to say “Thank you” and walk the fuck away. There’s is nothing new under the sun, especially when it comes to weight loss. We’ve all heard the schpiel, many of us got the t-shirt, now can we enjoy our turkey in peace?
It’s kind of taboo for a fat person to say it because we’re supposed to be contrite about our appetites, but I really enjoy the Thanksgiving meal. Warm turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes. It’s delicious for reasons that are explained with great detail in Sugar, Fat, Salt and The End of Overeating. And it’s also the same reason why food has been delicious throughout history, as demonstrated in the outstanding historical food show Supersizers Go. I reviewed it here and noted then how the main guy, Giles Coren, describes himself as an unashamed glutton, but nobody bats an eye because he’s thin.
But for fat people, admitting food is pleasurable sets off alarms in some because clearly that’s the reason we’re fat, even though the enjoyment of food is about as hard-wired as we get. Yes, food is fuel, but it is a fairly new concept to think of food as primarily being fuel. Historically, food has primarily been about survival. Sugar and salt began as precious commodities, such that only the wealthy and/or powerful could enjoy enhanced foods. Wars broke out over sugar and salt supplies. Clearly, people enjoy the Thanksgiving meal because it hits all our favorite spots that have been our favorite spots as a species.
So, yes, you are allowed to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal, regardless of what other people think. You have as much right to be there and to make your own plate with whatever foods strike your fancy, and then you are allowed to eat that food without worrying what the people next to you think about what you should or should not be eating.
On this Thanksgiving, I hope that we are all able to enjoy our day without guilt or shame or the kind of self-consciousness casts a pall over an otherwise fine day. I hope you’re able to keep the unwanted opinions of others out of mind as you go about your business. This is a day for gratefulness, and if there’s anything we should all be grateful for, it’s the fact that we live in a world where food is not a daily struggle for most and that most people can enjoy a variety of foods that were once only available to kings and aristocrats.