THE FOOD OBSESSION
How current attitudes put modern women at risk from life threatening disorders
More than 90 percent of the nation’s food budget is spent by women.
Despite the fact that often the star cooks are men, most of the countries food is cooked and served by woman. Women make the proportion of those who suffer from the puzzling, and potentially life threatening, psychological disorders loosely referred to as "eating illness".
Many women appear obsessed with the subject of food. Newspapers, magazines and other media deal exhaustedly with the subject of female diet and the female shape. Why is this? Because when people look at the women they often look at the body first.
Research has repeatedly shown that it is women who stare at other women's bodies, Women who always judge other women by the shape of their bodies?
And women who obsess themselves with the question of food and its relationship with fat.
I can think of why we as sex have such an uneasy relationship with food.
Some of these reasons are built in to us, part of the way our bodies are made and function. Some are relics of our ancient history, and some are part and parcel of deep-seated political ideas and attitudes.
Food is essential to all of us, but to women even more so- because we are not just ourselves made of food; we are food for others. We create a new human beings out of ourselves and our bodies is the source of our survival and growth to those new human beings once we have made them.
So, we are ambivalent about food- we give it and take it, we use it and create it and where this sort of doubling exists, there is inevitably deep inner confusion. And that means that our attitudes to food must be different from those of men.
But there is more to it than just our reproductive differences. We are the 20th century daughters of prehistoric food gatherers.
Every time a picture of a luscious "homemade" pie appears on the tv screen, we are made to respond at a gut level- the respond we do, at pocket level.
Women have been brainwashed into thinking that the way they look is the most important thing about them. Not the way they think, or behave, or feel or hope. The way they look. And here into equation comes fashion. The currently admired look, By both men and women, Is the emaciated one.
But it was not until 60 years ago that thinness became all the range.
The extras ordinary thing about our present era is not so much that women who are gaunt to the point of being positively cadaverous are regarded as beautiful, but that we all care so much about beauty.
We become a visually dominated society. Almost everything now is offered to us in a visual form.
But why have women allowed themselves to diminished to mere images?
We are being made to believe that unless we confirm to these modern ideals we are not simply unbeautiful but positively useless, unfeminine, despicable, in some way, even repulsive. Never mind that we may have wit and intelligence warmth and compassion, humor and empathy.
The real tragedy is that the ideal to which we are being asked to aspire is almost unachievable by normal mature woman. The girl who has barely left her childhood behind and who has the small breast and hallow belly of the virgin may be able to, if she reduces her food intake to below her normal needs (enough to enable her normal growth and daily activity, that is) to maintain the ideal look for a few years even up to 30's.
after that if she does the natural thing and becomes sexually active
and has babies she will change. To become suicidally depressed because we are what we are is absurd.
Yet that is what many women do.
All this would be bad enough if we were dealing only with feelings about beauty and fashion linked with food. But we are not. We are dealing with something even more explosive: love.
To feed a baby is to be loved
and this link between food and love lies deeply inside all of us
, all our lives, because it is the first
experience of love we ever have..
It's true of both sexes, but women particularly are affected by their special feeding role. So, women will equate the giving and taking of food with love much more readily than men will.
Add to this need for food-based comfort the awful pressures there are on women to be thin and fashionable and you will see vividly why it is that so many women develop eating disorders.