No, Actually, “Eat a Sandwich” is Not “Feminist Activism”…
…and I’m going to tell you why.
Because the policing of women’s bodies, whether you are being cheeky, or saying it to a plastic doll, is not cool. It’s hurtful and not useful, and has no place in feminist discourse. Can we move past that point? Huh? That’s a pretty Kindy thing, IMNSFHO.
*The rest of this post is going to use some harsh language that describes my experiences/anger/frustration with Anorexia and Bulimia. I am direct and vulgar and sometimes a little flippant with how I describe my past behavior, and that is how I survived it. This may be triggering to some people. I also swear. A lot.*
There is a point when you are struggling* with an eating disorder that you might find yourself thin. Perhaps painfully thin. Maybe dangerously thin. You know this. You are aware. You haven’t avoided solids for this long, or barfed up all of that dinner you were pretending to enjoy without realizing what this means to your body. You might have some misunderstandings about what your body is actually needing…but you pretty much know.
In fact, everyone knows. All anyone can fucking talk about is how good you look now that you are so skinny…but wait…you just passed so good and have moved into too skinny…(because there is never good enough…too fat or too thin you will never be in)
Seriously, girl, eat a damned burger.
Or a bacon sandwich.
Because, you know, it’s that easy.
In fact (shifting voices), the only thing that anyone said to me that wasn’t so fucking insulting that I didn’t want to scream was “I am not going to insult you by saying how much harm you are doing to yourself because you are a smart girl and I know you know, when you are ready, I’ll be here”.
I watched all the shockudrama’s that were meant to scare me because ZOMG my STOMACH could RUPTURE and I was DOING THIS to MYSELF!
I saw Tracy Gold and the mom from Family Ties and countless others on the after school specials during school and I fucking knew.
How could I not? I knew what the result was…that was the damned point.
And I knew I was sick.
I. Didn’t. Care.
And that was scarier than anything…that I felt helpless inside my own body to stop it.
Eat a fucking sandwich.
As if I wouldn’t just throw it back up.
As if that bottle of ipecac wasn’t in my glove box.
As if I wasn’t really good at tearing it into pieces to make you think I was actually eating it only to drop some and crumble some and throw the rest away…
No, I wasn’t embarrassed of letting you hear me pee…the water running was a cover for something else…
Eat a fucking sandwich.
Tumbling around inside my head…as if it never occurred to me to do.
As if I had the power to just eat that fucking sandwich.
The hurt and the denial and the lies…and shit yelling at me just didn’t help…
Because who the fuck carries sugar packets in their purse?
And do you know when that shit started?
When I was a teenager.
We shouldn’t infantilize teenagers by saying “b-b-but they don’t get that this message isn’t aimed at real people”.
Teenagers are people…with feelings…
And if anyone can tell you about what it feels like to hurt because you sit outside the socially accepted norm of appearance, it is another teenager…
being told to just eat a sandwich isn’t that funny if you are dealing with body issues
and burning yourself with a curling iron because you don’t know what else to do…
Eat. A. Damn. Sandwich.
It’s not funny or witty or clever or great new empowering activism.
It’s waking up in your own bile.
And it is possibly terrifying the hell out of someone.
Unpack that one.
*I don’t like to use “struggle” any longer when discussing disability. My experience with EDs was a struggle. There is no other word in my vocabulary, which spans a few languages, to explain it. I struggled, fought, and am still not sure I have won this one.