Hello and happy February!
I realize seeing this post pop up may come as a bit of a surprise, since the last time I did this was, oh, May 2017. It turns out that maintaining an active newsletter while also finishing a book manuscript (and then, having a baby!) was a bit ambitious. But it’s a new year, and the book, while still several steps away away from publication, is written. So I’m excited to get back to newslettering, both so I can continue to share my thoughts on food, culture and writing, and so I can tell you more about the book as we get closer to its release into the wild… which should happen mid-November.
If you’ve forgotten that you ever subscribed to this and need a reminder on why, here’s some more about me. And here’s the piece about teaching my daughter to eat again which led me to write The Eating Instinct. The book tells our story in much more detail, but it also tells the stories of many people struggling with how to eat in a world that’s constantly telling us we’re doing it wrong.
From the time we’re little kids, in fact, we’re told that we like the wrong foods and don’t like the right ones. And that we’re hungry at the wrong times and for all the wrong things. As a result, we don’t trust ourselves to make the right choices around eating. Some of us don’t trust ourselves to eat at all. Women feel this failure most acutely because of how eating ties directly to weight, and the certainty that our value is our bodies. And that’s why so many of us find ourselves apologizing, constantly, for what we’re eating, how much we’re eating, or the sheer act of eating, period. “Every time I eat, I feel like I’ve failed,” one source told me. I interviewed her early last year, but I’ve been thinking about our conversation a lot as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have erupted in recent weeks, and especially, as the conversation has turned more towards what it means to have “bad sex” in that gray area between consent and rape. Why didn’t she just leave? Why did she say yes if she was uncomfortable? We live in a culture that teaches girls they don’t know when they’re hungry — that they can’t trust their most fundamental eating instinct, the one that all human survival hinges on. If they’re told to ignore their bodies then, why are we surprised when they stay silent despite what their body is telling them about sex? It’s all part of the same effort to control women; to make sure we don’t trust ourselves.
So then how do we stop feeling ashamed of our hunger? I explored that question in a recent issue of Health Magazine (pictured above, read it here) but I’m still thinking about it. For sure, a larger cultural shift needs to happen. And a lot of that change needs to come from how men think about and treat women. But food shaming is often a way women punish each other and ourselves. It’s an insidious habit, but one that we can break. I’ve been doing it by thinking: Would I want my daughters to apologize for this? Or would I want them to just trust themselves? And if the answers are yes for them, well… me too. And you.
I’m doing a round of revisions on the manuscript now and we’re also making exciting decisions about things like subtitles and cover art. And — I’m starting to think ahead to November and book events! If having me come read and/or talk about the book to your class, organization, etc is something you’re interested in, I’d love to hear from you. We don’t have to work out any of the specifics just yet, but I want to make sure your contact info is on our master list for event planning purposes. And feel free to forward this newsletter around to anyone else with a bookstore, conference, club, or other place where people gather and might like to be talked at about how we learn to eat in today’s toxic food culture.
Speaking of sharing…
If you’re excited that this newsletter is back up and running, maybe you would like to tell your friends?
Click here to pop up this tweet: “Our culture teaches girls they don’t know when they’re hungry. If they learn to ignore their bodies then, why are we surprised that it’s hard for them to speak up about bad sex?” — Check out @v_solesmith for more: https://tinyletter.com/virginiasolesmith
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