Monday, September 15, 2014

A Girl with a Healthy Appetite

Scarlett and Her Suitors at the Twelve Oaks Barbecue in Gone with the Wind
I'm a Gone with the Wind fan in general, but I've always been especially fond of the scene at the Twelve Oaks barbecue when Scarlett is surrounded by her many suitors. The teenage version of me always kind of wanted to be her a little bit. However, it wasn't because she was the choice of every single man there or the way they were all competing against each other for the chance to be near her.

It's because not only is Scarlett actually eating a big, full plate of delicious barbecue fare in public, but men that are sexually interested in her consider it to be the highest privilege to bring Scarlett her plate and share a hearty meal with her. They're not shocked and disgusted by the fact that Scarlett is actually eating when the other girls are most likely picking at their food the way their mammies have no doubt suggested. In fact, they seem to prefer her for it. Men preferred Scarlett because she was different, as opposed to in spite of it and I suppose I've always loved that the first way this was really shown in a big way was through food.

Actually food is used throughout the movie to show abundance, lack, loss and rebellion as Scarlett experienced them over the course of the story line. Even when Scarlett is famously swearing to God that she's going to bring herself and her family back from the brink of poverty, she says: "I'll never be hungry again." And then later on once she's married to Rhett and preparing for a life lived in lap of luxury, she's shown hungrily devouring everything on her plate on her honeymoon in New Orleans and asking for more. She's never going to be hungry again and she intends to take full advantage of it.

Scarlett and Rhett on Honeymoon in New Orleans
I used to watch scenes like these and think: "That's me." And it was and still is. Like Scarlett and like all women, I've received a multitude of social signals over the years designed to make me feel shame about loving food the way I do. When people see a woman -- especially a relatively slender woman -- choosing pizza or burgers over salad or yogurt, they feel the need to comment on it and sometimes even to point out how unfeminine they think it is. They ask where you put it all or -- if they're assholes -- they may even not-so-subtly imply that you must be bulimic. I've even had a perfect stranger in a restaurant think nothing of stopping, staring, and commenting on the size of a burger I was eating. 

This is pretty much your life if you're a woman that likes to eat. You'll always be surrounded by haters that don't think a woman should be that way. She's supposed to be dainty in front of other people and especially in front of men, picking at a salad or a tiny piece of steamed chicken and claiming that she's not hungry. The only acceptable calorie splurges are sweets -- like chocolate, cupcakes, and ice cream -- because it's considered more feminine to love nothing more than a decadent, sweet dessert when it's time to treat yourself. Only men are supposed to crave big hunks of meat or big slices of pizza glistening with melted cheese and pepperoni grease. Too bad for me that I love pizza but could seriously take or leave chocolate.

However, like Scarlett and me both, you will also very likely find others out there that see your attitude toward food as incredibly refreshing. For every guy that found my healthy appetite disgusting or unfeminine, there were probably ten that considered it to be among the things they liked most about me. In fact, most of those guys have expressed to me how absolutely annoying it is when women pretend they're not hungry or that they don't eat as much as they probably do. 

Trust me, a pretty, funny girl that will actually split a pizza and a pitcher of beer with a guy once in a while is worth her weight in gold, as she's the best of both worlds. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I am very proud to be such a girl myself. I'm grateful for characters like Scarlett that taught me at an early age that there's absolutely nothing wrong with being that way.
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