The first time I was humiliated in public for eating was 8 years old and at a family reunion barbecue in a park. After a long day playing with the other kids, I ran over to the table, eager to see the dishes my cousins had brought, and helped myself to a good pile of arroz con pollo.
As the fork was about to touch my lips, I heard my Abuelita behind me scream, “Who taught you to eat like this?” Eating like this will make you fat and no one wants that. I turned to see my plus size mom hiding her own shame behind me, but she didn’t say anything.
Fast forward to age 11. I am in a bathroom cabin with my meal tray, my knees above the toilet to perfectly balance my meal of 2% milk, carrots and chicken nuggets. My heart is racing as I keep my ears open to make sure no one comes in. I am frantic as I put each of the five chicken pieces in my mouth as quickly as possible. If they don’t see me eating “unhealthy food” it doesn’t really matter.
From a young age, I felt that the eyes around me were always looking at my bigger body and that it was impossible to eat a meal without fear of being judged. For many years, I took this shame with me, and eating food in the presence of someone else has become a difficult task.
When I saw a recent article in the Daily Mail shaming Tess Holliday just for eating an ice cream bar at Disney World, my immediate thoughts were, “Oh wow, that must have been a slow topical day.” I was not surprised to see a photo of a fat woman eating in a negative light. Anyone who exists in a marginalized body knows that vultures are just looking for something to use to get their point across, or better yet to sell another subscription.
As Holliday points out in her Instagram caption, she hiked miles at the theme park and had a joyful day with her family, but the newspaper chose to post photos of her only when she ate.
It’s amazing that we live in a society that can take a mannequin that just feeds off and make it into a discussion of personal health and wellness. But creating an increase in bodily shame, dysmorphia around food and big phobia is a billion dollar business, and honey, business is booming
I didn’t realize I developed an eating disorder until I was 25. I was so used to a life that revolved around trying the latest fad diet that I thought that was how everyone lived. My best friend at the time was My Fitness Pal; my boyfriend was all I could eat that was under 200 calories. I was on the diet culture circuit looking for anything that could give me my # 1 wish: to get smaller.
My heart filled with joy every time I ate a salad in a cafe, checking every minute to see if anyone was watching the fat girl “come back healthy”. My shame had no limits as I secretly ate a McDonald’s burger in the safety of my car and away from those prying eyes.
Today I’m a big voice influencer and content creator with a big social media presence, and after years of struggling, I can say that I am not only in a happy place in my body, but proudly abandoning the culture of food.
A few years ago, I posted a photo of myself on Instagram in bright, colorful clothes eating a cheeseburger at a local restaurant. To put it bluntly, I am absolutely adorable in this photo and also eat something that can be considered unhealthy in quotes.
I wasn’t intrinsically thinking about the impact it would have. I just looked at the photo and thought how good the food was. It was at the start of Instagram, when everyone was just sharing their plates. I just happened to include myself in the photo.
In retrospect, this photo was a clear example of a turning point in my own body dysmorphia and my relationship with food. I was showing myself to the world not only by eating, but by eating something that I would have hidden at a younger age. I was the one telling the world that not only was I going to eat food that nourished my body and made me happy, but also that I was done living in shame.
The message hit home, and I was inundated with thanks from people in my community congratulating me on the photo.
At the time, I did not consider it a revolutionary act. But it was. I was a fat woman not only sharing her food intake, but also showing the joy behind the plate – the joy of eating and eating well.
From that first photo, I was inspired to continue to share my personal culinary adventures while including my love of fashion and travel.
Frankly speaking, the industry is still pretty big phobic. I have struggled to gain recognition for my work in the food industry because we are just not what they want or are looking for. I don’t see a lot of fat on the feeds of Michelin-starred restaurants, on the covers of Bon Appetit, or who are asked to create food content for the enjoyment of the masses.
But years later, my food content and imagery is what brings me the most joy, and that leads to what I expect most: a direct message from someone struggling in the culture of the feed telling me that my content has had a positive impact on their lives.
Unlearning the culture of food is not an overnight task. You need to actively seek change and be aware of seeing when something or someone is actually right for you rather than just trying to sell you something.
If you’re not personally out of the toxic diet culture, I’m here to tell you, that’s okay. My journey has not been linear and it has personally taken me years of unlearning, therapy, and getting out of a diet-friendly home to finally be on the verge of being well with myself and my body. body, and to fully enjoy food.
Nourishing your body and enjoying food is one of the simplest and most decadent experiences you can have as a human being. Food is how we cultivate relationships, create experiences, and connect with each other. It’s a necessity in order to survive: all of us, fat and thin, need to eat, right?
Anyone who exists in a fat body has a horror story about a time when they were just trying to enjoy food in public. This is why it is so important to fight the stigma and to advocate for allowing obese people to enjoy the pleasures of everyday life. This is why advocating for increased representation of larger organizations within the food industry would help to banish the prejudices with which we live on a daily basis.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that creating work focused on my body, pleasure and food would be the pinnacle of my career and success, but here we are.
Creating content that also inspires others to live more openly and outwardly is the greatest joy of my life, and so just looking glamorous while eating a variety of foods makes others feel more comfortable with it. themselves, so it is my duty and my honor to continue to do so. Hope this inspires you not only to eat, but to eat well.
You can follow Megan Ixim on Instagram.
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