Gargoyle 51
Cover by Patricia Storms
Published 9/7/2006

Assess Your Own Eating Behavior

Sarah Browning

1. Do you feel a desire to be thin? Yesterday, chocolate eggs and schoolboy cookies and cheese and cheese and carrot cake chips toast and butter butter and toast. OK, today, fruit fruit fruit yogurt juice juice.

2. Are you preoccupied with food? What it would take for you to look like Demi Moore in Striptease: shaving, rib removal, different ankles, silicone implants, less food less food less food shaving.

3. Do you feel societal pressures to be thin? At the party you are told how thin you look, how much weight you’ve lost, how great you look. I didn’t recognize you, say two people, two people you know, a man, a woman. How’d you get to be so beautiful, asks your friend Bob.

4. Do you feel uncomfortable in an environment where there is too much food? You think these questions are too easy, don’t you? The party’s potluck buffet sparkles and rages with sticky lasagna and chocolate creams and guacamoles and chips and cream cheese roll-ups and carrot cakes and chocolate cream cakes and you are dancing and dancing to stay away but you cannot dance all night because no one will dance with you all night and you become self-conscious dancing alone all night as if putting yourself on display and you stop dancing and eat and drink whiskey.

5. Are you always trying to lose weight? Who wrote these questions, you wonder. Come on. (Though your friend claims it to be true, that she likes her body; she says she likes her warm enveloping body and you like her for that and think she is insane at the same time.) You think it’s anxiety that keeps your weight down. If you ever meditated and did yoga and all that stuff you would get fat like the Buddha, right?

6. Do you hide your food? Drive to the Mini Mart for a rental movie or for low-fat frozen yogurt. Buy a Twix Bar or Mars and eat it on the drive home. Leave the wrapper in the car.

7. Do you take laxatives for weight loss? Do you think it would work?

8. Do you feel fat despite the fact that others say you’re thin? Please. The world is full of people thinner than you are. Look at Demi Moore in Striptease. Sit through that cheesy movie and think how skinny she looks, how great she looks. Think it. Think it some more.

9. Do you have difficulty concentrating due to your concern with food? Do. Do imagine what you might eat right now. Do think of chili in a refrigerated plastic container, of four kinds of cheese in the fridge—asiago, Parmesan, cheddar, cream, Swiss—five. Corn chips. Do remember sitting in a poetry reading thinking about the cookies on the reception table. Do remember taking one right into the toilet stall with you as soon as the applause ended because you really had to go but you wanted to be sure everybody wouldn’t eat all the cookies first. Do talk about it in the abstract with therapists and sisters: Yes, parents raised in the War Years, yes, the culture of scarcity, yes.

10. Do you feel isolated because of your eating behavior?