I was in chocoholic's heaven enjoying an incredible chocolate and olive oil ganache made by an authentic Italian chocolatier at a food show, when the man said something to me.
He was standing with people I know, but we had not yet met each other.
As I dug into the heavenly ganache to take another bite, this stranger said to me, "Don't eat that! You don't want to ruin that great figure of yours, now do you?"
I continued to eat the ganache and walked away.
I had never even exchanged a "hello" with this man, yet he was highly invested that my figure stays "great!" That I should be sexy for him, and for other men. That I should stop enjoying one of the best desserts of my life so this strange person could sanctify, approve, and guarantee that my body would be sexy tomorrow. Because if I gained two pounds from eating this ganache, my sexual desirability would be dead and gone. I might be ugly, unwanted, and not within his desired parameters for a female body.
He wasn't the first man to comment on my food.
Thirteen years ago I sat in a psychiatrist's office getting treated for depression. A textbook case, I had suffered from an eating disorder after dealing with rape and sexual abuse. It didn't matter that I am the annoying woman women love to hate with my thin figure. It didn't matter that in high school, I ate a disgusting amount of McDonald's extra-large fries and hamburgers, yet I was never big. I have been a petite woman my whole life. I am the jerk that wears the size 00. But in my mid-twenties, I suffered from eating disordered behavior. I was lacking control over my painful feelings and memories as well as feeling like dirt as a person, and so I controlled my eating in an attempt to deal with these feelings. I am happy to say that for over 13 years, I have maintained a healthy relationship with food.
But that day in the psychiatrist's office, I felt fat and disgusting at my largest size of a size 2. I reported to him what I was eating and said I was taking in approximately 1400 calories a day.
"Fourteen hundred calories? That's way too much! You've got to cut down," said the professional male psychiatrist treating me for depression while knowing I suffered from an eating disorder as well as body dysmorphia I'm sure.
I just needed to quit the eating! That's right! Cut it down fatty, I heard him say in my head.
Let's not forget the charming male relative who saw 100 lb. me reach for a slice of cheesecake and interjected.
I mean, we have to have an intervention when such a woman goes to eat cake!
"Are you really going to eat that?" he said.
And because misery loves company, I would also like to add the countless number of dates in which men claimed, "Wow, you sure do eat a lot for a small person."
To that relative, to that psychiatrist, to that stranger, and all men of the world:
Yes. I am really going to eat whatever I want, whenever I want.
And news flash? You don't get to comment.
Your two cents means diddly, Bo.
Last I looked no one claimed any of you to be the owner of me and my body. Why is it that my weight is of such importance to people? Why is it that everyone feels that he (or she, also!) can add in two cents about what I put into my mouth? Is there some strange worldwide bet going on that says, "If you can keep Laura less than 105lbs, the world will keep on rotating?"
I am not here to be someone's sex symbol. I am a human being with desires, hopes and an agenda of my own. And frankly gentlemen, I don't care what your "plan" is for me. If I want to shove a whole box of Godiva truffles in my mouth right this very minute I will, and you my friends, have to stay quiet.
Have you ever seen a woman ask a man, 'Why are you eating that? You might lose that nice ass of yours?"
Or "Put down that beer. I don't want you to ruin your abs for me."
No, we let you go around as is--skinny, fat, obese, muscular, stout, and otherwise. We don't decide to give a play by play of your mealtime habits because guess what folks, George didn't do his triceps today at the gym AND he ate a hamburger! You get to indulge in your thinness. Your fatness... because nobody cares! No one is invested in how much you weigh.
That day at the food show, I was very tempted to put down the ganache. That man had fed a line right into my worst fears: that perhaps I am only worth my waist and breast size. But when that little annoying low-self-esteem voice came in my head, I told it to shut-up and I ate the ganache anyway.
I ate every last bite, and I didn't hesitate to ask for more.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.