Most of the time I just walk around being me, and not thinking too hard about it. Sometimes I have a good haircut, and look pretty good, and sometimes I get home and find I have a rip in my pants (this actually happened to me last week, and I was super-bummed because I love those pants). Though I try to be self-aware, I try not to get too bogged down by being overly
self-conscious. Most women I know carry around varying degrees of self-consciousness. We worry how we look from behind, if we have something in our teeth, a stray hair we have failed to tweeze, and (sadly) for almost all of us, we’re consumed with ‘do I look fat?’. Now, I look fat pretty much all the time, so my goals are making sure my clothes fit well, not looking like a slob, and not taking up too much space.
With the warm weather, I get anxious about one particular place, and no, it’s not the beach (though I have said many times ‘if I could find a 3/4 sleeve bathing suit I would buy it’) it’s the ice cream parlor! Summer is ice cream season, and I like a good ice cream cone from time to time. My favorite flavor used to be peach, and I still really like it, but over the years more and more flavors have become widely available, and I have to choose between flavors like green tea, ginger, and fresh blueberry… I eat cold things slowly, so I am a one scoop gal. There is a wonderful old fashioned ice cream parlor here in Philadelphia; The Franklin Fountain and they are as lovely as they can be there, and the flavors of their homemade ice cream are wondrous. I don’t go there often, it is pretty pricey (this is an observation, not a complaint, it is really good ice cream) but whether I decide to go there, or somewhere else for a cone, I have some self-talk to work through first.
No one needs ice cream. If I go to a restaurant , everyone there understands that breakfast, lunch and dinner are typically consumed by everyone (and by everyone, for this article I mean anyone who has access to regular meals) regardless of body type or size. People assume you are there for a meal, and I assume that my server is not thinking ‘why is this fatty eating a sandwich?’ but when it comes to ice cream, all bets are off. All I can think of is everyone (and here I mean everyone) who can see me is thinking ‘she has some nerve eating ice cream.’ Now, realistically, there may only a few people thinking that, and so far no one has actually said it to me, but reality doesn’t have a lot to do with my issues around eating ice cream in public.
You probably don’t need me to point out that this is all about shame, but bear with me here. Because I am overweight I feel shame when I am so self indulgent as to consume something that’s only purpose is sensual pleasure, and is loaded with something like a trillion calories. Ice cream is the ultimate pleasure food, no one eats it to serve a nutritional need, and I struggle with allowing myself to enjoy it. But if I am going to eat it, especially if I am going to eat an expensive, handmade with fresh ingredients, local, spectacular ice cream cone, isn’t the real shame failing to enjoy it?
So this summer I will keep my head high on those occasions I decide I’d like a cold, creamy, sweet summer treat. I will trust that the few people who actually notice me eating my cone are merely thinking “Wow, that looks so good, I wonder where she got it?’ If they are judging me, that is their issue, not mine. I will honor my ice cream cone, and the people who made it by enjoying every single delicious lick!