When I first started this blog, I wrote one post that discussed work culture and I wrote another post in which I mentioned how people at my job talk a ridiculous amount about drinking alcohol. Talking about drinking seems to be part of my job’s cultural environment.
Another annoying thing that I’m noticing about my job’s cultural environment is that a lot of people there…gosh, how do I explain it…have a problem with junk food. See, someone is always bringing food to work for everyone to eat. It’s a nice thing about working at this place, but it’s yet another big cultural difference between me and everyone else there…because I’m not about to spend money on anyone there or bring food in for the entire suite. Yes, this probably means I shouldn’t eat anything anyone else brings in. But…oh well. Anyway, most of the time it’s some form of junk food.
This means that half the suite is either not going to eat it, or they’re going to dance around the food and talk about how bad it is that someone brought it in, how tempted they are, how they shouldn’t eat it …and then eat it. Do I even need to mention this part–everyone I’m describing is a woman. There are guys there who won’t eat it, either, because they don’t eat junk food. But they don’t do the little dance that some of the women do, and they don’t act tortured like some other women do. Us female tech geeks are probably the only ones who don’t dance around the food or act tortured, but for different reasons. The female tech geek with whom I work is like the guys who just say “I don’t eat junk food.” I don’t dance around or act tortured because…hell, truth be told, I probably eat more junk food than anything else. That’s not always true, but it is these days.
I’ve grown up around white people all of my life, and I started noticing in college that many white women, in particular, have this sort of tortured relationship with food. It’s something I don’t really see with black women, and there have been a couple of times when I’ve mentioned this to a white woman and she has a black example to “show” me it’s not just white women or that some black women are like that or that the majority of women are like that. Of course, the one white woman whom I can remember doing this was from California and was, thus, talking about black women from CA. Somehow, I can’t help but feel this doesn’t count since people from CA are kind of…well…shall we say, at least a little bit more shallow than the rest of us. Still, I am sure there are black women who primarily eat healthy, will rarely eat junk food and who freak out when they see junk food. I just don’t know any black [American] women well who are like that. Consequently, admittedly, there are more of us who are overweight, and black women on the whole probably have more health problems (which is not just correlated with weight and eating habits).
My point today is not about weight or health, though. My first point is that I don’t understand. When there’s a box of junk food sitting there at work and one of my white female co-workers comes around, looks at me, looks at the junk food, looks at me again and starts the little dance…I don’t get it. It has been a long time since I denied myself anything I wanted to eat, so I don’t relate to it. And I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever danced around food I wanted to eat, so I don’t get that, either. And I think they think I get it because I’m a woman and they’re women. But that’s the other thing I don’t get. Look at me. How often do I look like I say no to junk food? These are three things that I’ve wondered about white women for years–why are they so much more strict about food than black women are, what on earth are they thinking when they’re whining about food to someone who weighs more than they do and what do they think when they see all these overweight black women.
My other point is that, regardless of the mentality a lot of people have about people being overweight and unhealthy, I just have a natural fondness for people who unashamedly enjoy food. It is just refreshing, especially the way things are today, to encounter people who eat what they want (including junk food), weigh what they weigh and don’t really worry about it. I understand the health risks, and I understand they are undisciplined. I understand it’s a strain on health care. But I think that my irritation with people who dance around food and show too much concern for weight, dieting–or whatever their problem is–is that I perceive them as being the ones who are somehow unhappy with who they are, while my fondness for people who eat what they eat and weigh what they weigh and are unapologetic about it is that they appear to like who they are. I also perceive the former–when they’re doing things like looking at someone such as myself while whining about junk food–as indirectly expressing dissatisfaction with certain types of people.
See, for me, if someone wants to be healthy or thin, that’s that individual’s own business. It’s one thing to complain about your weight to everyone but continue to eat poorly. The pounds are not going to just fall off over night with little to no effort, and no one wants to hear you complain when you’re not taking steps to change. But if someone is overweight and happy with who he is, let him be happy. If someone is thin and happy with who she is, let her be happy. If someone primarily eats junk food, that’s her business. If someone primarily eats organic food, that’s his business. We don’t have to understand each other when it comes to diet, but I think we should let more people be without all the negative judging when it comes to weight and eating. And more people need to be happy with who they are instead of feeling they have to panic every time they see certain types of food. Remember, your looks are not who you are.
At my job among all the thin, dancing white women who think they can’t even eat one sweet (but they can go out and get drunk–have seen this one for years and have never been able to figure it out), there’s this huge white guy who is always the first to roll confidently up to any food brought in by someone in the suite. When someone brought in doughnuts, this guy said, “I’m going to get two, because I’m a fat ass.” I just thought, “That dude is awesome.” He is fat, he’ll probably always be fat…and he’s fine with himself. He might not live to be 80, but, as overrated as life is, he’s probably cool with that. I know I am.