between blogging about food and exercise and blogging about weird eating habits that probably should not be encouraged. That much, we know.
The Marie Claire drama continued all day yesterday, with the bloggers in question posting rebuttals, the Marie Claire Facebook page turning into a witch hunt, and my little Hollaback post receiving more comments and page views than I’d ever gotten before. Then Jezebel picked up on the dramz and — much to my surprise — I was quoted!
When you take away what we know about these women, and just look at them as a set of behaviors or “symptoms,” it’s a lot easier to see the problems. If you were presented with a list of behaviors and asked, “Does this sound like disordered eating to you?” you’d probably say yes. Pouring salt on food, eating really low calories, only indulging in treats when one has “earned” them through some very serious exercise, and experiencing amenorrhea…these are standard warning signs. But maybe we’re just too in it to see it when we read it, or if we do it ourselves.
After reading the article, my mother just said, “Always in the middle of it, aren’t you?” Really, we were just both amazed that I was at the center of any sort of drama and somehow not the bad guy.
It’s great to see this issue getting the attention I’ve felt for a long time that it deserves, and I’m really excited to be one of the voices contributing to that.
I’ll be writing a lot more about the issues raised on Hollaback, but I think the tough thing for all of us who think the article had some merit is explaining what it is about certain blogs that make us so uncomfortable. What’s bothering me, and what I think is worth writing about here, is the defense so many bloggers use: “But I eat! Look at the pictures of my food! Look at my beer and my pizza!”
Yes, I get it. You eat. But I feel like in so many cases, eating junk food — not even really good food, which pisses me off even more — is written about in the context of exercise. It bothers me when any bloggers — not just the “Big Six” — or, seriously, any women, talk about how much they eat because they earned it. I’ve written about this before, but I don’t need you to justify your meals with exercise. (UPDATED: Unless it’s sex/McMuffins.) Sure, if you ate a really rich dinner last night, it might make you physically feel better to run the next day, and doing an extra 10 minutes on the elliptical because you’re going out for beers later does not an eating disorder make. The problem I have is that almost bragging about eating a whole pizza in the context of how far you ran that day sends a message that you can only eat a whole pizza if you ran really far that day. And the fact is, you can eat a whole pizza on days you don’t run because you were really damn hungry and it was really damn good and…it’s not that big of a fucking deal. You’re still healthy, you’re still you, and you’re in no way inferior to anyone who went for a run that morning. And furthermore, I think when you take guilt out of the equation, it’s a lot easier to enjoy both the run and the pizza (and your life).
So eat cupcakes or don’t. Run marathons or don’t. Lose weight or don’t. Fall in love with your body (I’m not giving you an option on that one). But please recognize that these things are not dependent on one another. Do them whether you did the other things or not — and please don’t give us all your reasons why your choice was still “healthy.”
The other thing that really bothers me about healthy living blogging is the lack of disclosure about one’s own body image. The Jezebel article touched on what I brought up in The Thing About Body Image — that it’s so taboo to say you care about your weight. You’re expected to be skinny but not want to be skinny, and you certainly aren’t supposed to blog about wanting to be skinny. I wish that bloggers who do care about how they look would just admit that, instead of saying they worked out extra because of how it makes them feel. Because then we feel like we can only eat pizza if we did a triathlon and love our bodies! But oh wait, if you don’t love your body, then you’re also on the brink of having an eating disorder? I’ve heard this phrase a lot in the past couple days, but it’s true…you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
As much as I love rules, ultimately, I don’t think there is a rule for how to blog about healthy living without taking it to an unhealthy level. There are certain ways you can be aware of it, absolutely, and we’ll be getting into that more on Hollaback. But as people are arguing over what’s healthy and what’s unhealthily healthy, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s like trying to define what’s art and what’s pornography. I can’t articulate the difference, but I know it when I see it.
I wish I had a better explanation for all of this, but that’s what I keep going back to. I can’t explain why some blogs and routines seem so borderline obsessive and some people’s don’t, just like I can’t tell you the difference between a black-and-white nude and a copy of “Hustler.” But I know it when I see it, and when I see it, I want to work to change it.