I’m not going to lie, living in NYC, I can kind of…take it for granted.
Let’s just say I like to stick to my neighborhood. I avoid Times Square like the plague. Vehemently resist going to Brooklyn. (I feel inadequate around hipsters). And steer clear of Macy’s on 34th at all costs. Too many tourists taking photos on their iPads.
But every once in a while, I realize that I live in the greatest city in the world, and so I’ll take a Saturday afternoon, and go on an adventure. I just start walking and see where the city takes me.
Now, pause. If you’ve read any of my blog, then you’ll see the irony here…because…I hate reading. I mean, I cannot remember the last book I read. Seriously. I was the SparkNotes kid in highschool. And somehow managed a 4.0 in both high school and college.
But any who….
This little bookstore caught my eye. It was tucked between a little red awninged cafe, and a nondescript walk up on a “quaintfully” run down-ish East Village street. Hidden in the basement, underneath a hokey yellow and red sign that was straight out of the Eighties.
But you walk in and it’s this cramped little space with thousands of books. Shelves and shelves of floor to ceiling books. The aisles can fit one person width-wise at a time, and you can just get lost for hours perusing the titles.
Hey, just because I don’t read books, doesn’t mean I can’t see what’s out there.
But this one had that “old book” smell, and it was just before Christmas, and I was sipping my thermos of tea, and I just felt so…New York. 🙂
But as I was Matilda-ing my way through the shelves of books, I came across a title that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end:
I did a double take…Did I read that correctly? Surely no one would be that dense to title a book that glaringly triggering to women suffering/on-the-brink-of/recovering from eating disorders.
So. I bought the book. I write an ED recovery blog…I’ve got to know what’s out there.
And let me tell you…I made it through the first chapter and a half, and I just had to stop reading. I was getting so pissed off I was beginning to get hives.
For me, my version of this book was a line from a Mary Kate and Ashley movie. They were packing their lunch for high school, and Ashley goes, “I’m having an apple. It’s cute food.”
Cute food. As if high school wasn’t difficult enough trying to look cute for the boys when your body is awkwardly adjusting to puberty, now you also have to take into account the “cuteness” of your food?
But Eating Pretty? Sure, maybe in some out-of-touch book marketer’s mind he or she thought that it would be a catchy, click-bait-y, title, but attaching a judgement on how and what you’re eating in relation to your attractiveness is recipe for disaster.
Reading through the book, it was all about eating for beauty. Avoiding the “Beauty Betrayers” – such as gluten, dairy, meat, processed foods, canned foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, fried food, and overcooked food — just to name a few.
Sound like an eating disorder much?
I had to put the book down. It was literally making my skin crawl with anger. This book was encouraging eating disorders and disguising it as “wellness.”
That is not eating pretty. That is eating restricted.
You know what is eating pretty? Having a hamburger and not feeling an overwhelmingly intense sense of guilt and shame. Enjoying an ice cream cone with a friend on a hot day and not wanting to purge afterwards. Helping your mom cook dinner in the kitchen and not trying to control the amount of butter or oil she uses in the recipe.
It’s eating freely and loving yourself no matter what goes in your mouth.
That’s eating pretty.
No thank you.
We should encourage girls and women to eat healthily, yes…but that a woman should love herself and feel pretty no matter what she eats.
Because Food does not equal Pretty or Not Pretty.
Food does not factor into your attractiveness.
It doesn’t matter if you eat an apple or a slider from White Castle.
“Eating” and “pretty” should never even be in the same sentence, let alone thought process.
As an anorexia survivor, this book brought out the mama bear in me. For all the young, impressionable girls out there who are going through high school and looking in the mirror every day and asking themselves, “Am I pretty enough?” everyday, just like I did.
And I thought that food — or rather, the lack of food — would somehow aid in this quest for self worth and lovableness and yes, prettiness. And I strived for that perfection — those same damn “Beauty Betrayers” — all the way down to 78 pounds.
And osteopenia, a missed high school graduation, serious hormonal issues, and shattered relationships later, I can tell you…eating — what you eat or don’t eat — will not, cannot, and should not EVER have ANY impact on your worth as a person or your “prettiness.”
That comes from the inside. That comes from your heart. How you treat others. How you love yourself. And from Christ shining through you.
Not by “eating pretty.”
Give me a damn break.
I’ll end with this one thing:
Food is not good or bad. It is not pretty or ugly. Food is nourishment. And you should nourish your body adequately and responsibly and enjoyably.
Restriction is never pretty. Never has been. Never will be.
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