Holidays, Food, Women, Willpower, Bullshit

There are so many things wrong with this one piece in the HuffPo that I don't even know why I violated my self-imposed no-HuffPo policy.  (They have a strikingly irresponsible track record with ED and body image coverage, IMO.) I'm not actually linking to it up at the top here, because I don't want to give it any more traffic than it's invariably gotten.  I'll link to it at the bottom.  Hopefully that will minimize the number of you actually clicking through.

The gist of the piece is around "decision fatigue" and how it has an impact on willpower.   Specifically, the discussion revolves around the holidays.

The piece is chock full of statements that on their own would be fine and dandy, even really practical advice ("[Mistakes] make you human... Give yourself a break," "Ratchet down the stress by putting things in perspective").  So far, so good.

However, then you have to put those statements into the context of article.

The context is, of course, that "willpower" is harder for women to exercise than for men (because, lady brains), and of course "willpower" is defined mostly in terms of decadent holiday food (and drink) (because, lady existence: defined by lady waistlines).

Because of course it is.

First of all, I find the "eating yummy things and having willpower are diametrically opposed" meme to be bullshit of the smelliest variety.  It's related to the ignorant belief that anorexia has to do with willpower.  Sure it does.  Just like OCD has to do with the willpower to push through and just check that door lock one more time.

But second of all, and more to the point, I 100% grok the experience of "decision fatigue."  I could be a social scientist's perfect specimen in observing the paralysis that sets in just due to the overwhelming stress of oh my word, it's all too much (especially when the paralysis itself just adds more to the much).

I don't deny that many people (particularly people socialized in the female way) DO view their food and drink activity, especially at holiday time, as a function of willpower or lack thereof.  I am aware that it happens, and moreover I am aware that it happens to me.

I just think that it's total bullshit.  (You're reading this, so you might just agree.)  Articles like this, that just go ahead and assume that of course you're going to have trouble not shoveling Christmas cookies down and of course you're going to agonize over each extra pig in a blanket?  Well, articles like this just play right into that total bullshit and perpetuate it.

What if - just run with me here for a second - we, as girls and woman, didn't spend our holiday-time lives from age 4 or so assaulted by the message that holidays can be stressful, and our stress will get taken out on all the holiday food?

What if - keep with me a little longer here - we spent our lives hearing that holidays can be stressful, and our stress will get taken out in different ways, because we are different people?

I know, I know.  That's just silly.  We're all really the same and we're all doomed to eat too much over the holidays, and what's more, beat ourselves up over it, not because we've spent our lives being told, "You're going to beat yourself up for eating too much holiday food!" but because, lady brains.


Here.  Here is the crap article that buys into every assumption of Western femininity and food ever.


  1. How about we also stop defining food in terms of good- you exercised willpower by not having food- and bad- you ate the food. The vast majority of people don't have food allergies or diabetes or other conditions that make having food willpower a matter of life or death, so how about just eating food because you want to, eating as much as makes you happy, and moving on?

    You know, like men are supposed to do.

  2. PF, you're so weird. Get with the gender binary program.

    [redacted] and I realized today that I actually NAILED the age-four initiation into How To Be A Female re: food and body.

  3. And can I Just add that the overly cutesy-cloying tone of the writing in the HuffPo piece smacks of Trying-Too-Hard?


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