The social implications of a cookie.

chocolate chip cookieJust once, when I happen to be in a group of women, I’d like to have a cookie without having to consider the social implications of having a cookie.

This happened to me just now — I was at the park at a little teacher-organized end-of-year gathering of kids, having a brief conversation with a small handful of women. One turned to the rest of us and said “I want a cookie. Does anyone else want a cookie?” and as one, the rest of us smiled and said no. The cookie-fetcher then said “Well, now I feel bad, I’ll be the only one taking a cookie!” and came back with an apple.

Now, I am a fan of apples and have nothing against them. Apples are a fine thing. And sometime I genuinely do not want a cookie.

But I have no idea if I wanted a cookie in that moment or not. I just know that when I’m in a gathering of women (particularly if I don’t know them very well), I almost never reach for sweets. I am a woman of Joan-esque proportions, minus all the foundation garments, and I know that I live in a society that has a lot of opinions about women of my size and the consumption of baked goods.

I do not talk about it, will not bond (as so many of us are trained to do) over self-hatred, will not discuss anyone’s weight, exercise program, dress size, or shape (unless it’s to be conspicuously comfortable with the fact that I am large-bosomed). I know that sometimes these conversations can be perfectly healthy and self-affirming, but they too often are not, and I lack the skills to judge each and every conversation on the spot, so I participate in none.

But I am too good at hearing the whispers passing through people’s minds (or the whispers that I fear might be passing there, or the whispers of girls with whom I went to junior high, or the ones on TV) — and so while I will not engage in the body-shaming, neither will I engage in the cookie-eating.

Unless I do. Unless I make a conscience choice to make a political statement and have a cookie in front of God and everybody. Nearly as soon as the apple-bearing woman returned with her apple, I was sorry I hadn’t said some suburban-mom version of “Hell yeah I’ll have a motherfucking cookie!!” Because women need to see each other eating normally, enjoying their food, not weighing every bite. We model behavior for each other, we owe that to each other. I don’t know if I wanted a cookie, but I should have had one.

I always have one when there are kids around, especially if those kids are girls. If the kids are girls, I’ll have two cookies, and talk about how good they are, and counter any self-hating, food-limiting, body-slagging talk that may bubble up as quickly as I can. Because I’m the adult, and I need to model behavior for them, I owe that to them, to show them that women can eat normally, enjoy their food, not weigh every bite.

I don’t blame Women. And I certainly don’t blame the women I happened to be with today, or any women with whom I happen to find myself. I blame All Of Us. I blame society as individuals and society as a collective. I blame me, I blame the magazines at the grocery store, I blame 100-calorie packs and the corporate mind that conceived of them. I blame the air we breathe. I even kind of blame religion, because we have forever bought and sold a terrible, soul-killing notion that our bodies are bad, that they must be controlled, that not controlling our bodies in some vague, amorphous way (because we have to eat something, there’s no avoiding that, so constant vigilance is the only way) is a failure, a sin, something to be condemned, to be shunned, to be mocked, to be shamed. As if God did not know what He was doing when He created us. As if God did not make each and everyone of us to love and be loved, for who we are. For who and how He made us.

All of this, on every cookie (or piece of cake, or scoop of ice cream) that I eat in public. All of it.

Sometimes, I wish I could just eat a cookie.


  1. Have a smoothie instead LOL 😛

    I don’t weigh myself either. But I don’t like to carry extra weight. I know when I feel good in my body, and I know when I don’t. For me, physical, mental, and emotional health are all intertwined and connected. I think part of loving my self means nourishing my body with good food, lovingly prepared. I delight in taste, just as I delight in my other senses.

    What I don’t eat in cookies, I make up for in chocolate 😉

  2. Peer pressure is rough. But yeah, just eat the cookie. No need to discuss it.

    I know a woman in my small town who is very short and very fat, and just beautiful, both inside and out. She is not involved with a partner, and is raising her absolutely charming daughter alone, plus devoting virtually all of her spare time to companion animal rescue (her daughter comes along).

    I would never in a million years consider giving her unsolicited advice about weight (or dating.) It’s intrusive and rude. This woman is just terrific the way she is and her personal issues are no one’s business but her own, should she not choose to share them.

  3. Reblogged this on …..And The Moon Sees All and commented:
    Had to share this. Right now I REALLY want a piece of chocolate. There’s no reason to food shame.

  4. prayingforoneday

     /  June 3, 2013

    All over a cookie and socially acceptableness

    Please buy a cookie tomorrow and eat it alone!!

    Promise me now.. 🙂

  5. that’s great…

  6. Oh, my dear, I hear you on this. So much. And I am right there with you.

    Thank you for this post; I needed this today.

    • Life as a public person – which in your case means a life not only lived very much in public, but with the intention of being available to a particularly personal public, at all times – must make this even more intense. “But she made it for me! But we’ll be held to account for every good thing we refused to eat! But my teens are watching! But, but, but!”

  7. Yes! The other day I was having a bowl of ice cream with two friends – a boyfriend-girlfriend. I dipped myself a smaller bowl than they were having, but their conversation turned to diet and exercise. I ended up filling my bowl with water and pouring it down the sink… I know that eating ice cream is not what has made me fluffy because I’m a real healthy eater, but the social stigma of eating certain kinds of food makes life really sad sometimes.

  8. Great post. This covers a lot.

  9. YES! I am sooooo sick of hearing how a luscious dessert is “sinful” or how a person (self-described) has been “bad” because they went to the frozen yogurt place for dessert.

    I have spent decades trying to unlearn the social stigmas of food that were ingrained in me by my mother. Your post is a beautiful illustration of our warped relationship with food.

    Thank you for writing this.

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