When Even Your Food Tries to Food Shame You

cupcakeWandering through the frozen food aisle of the supermarket yesterday, I spied something that made me livid. And the more I think about it, the angrier I become.

A selection of frozen cupcakes, most with cute and reasonable names until we got to… Cheat Day Chocolate Cupcakes.

I know, it’s supposed to be cute. Funny, even. It’s supposed to play into the idea that these are so good, they’re worth cheating on your diet for.

My issue is more the assumption that you’re on a diet.

Because. We’re. All. Supposed. To. Be. Always. On. A. Diet.

And therefore, if you are eating a stupid cupcake, then you must be cheating. Because “good” dieters don’t eat chocolate. Or cake. It’s too decadent, sinful, etc. etc. etc.

A “good” fatty, hell a “good” woman, must at least demonstrate some level of guilt and remorse when eating a bit of cake or chocolate (Or both!!). To fail to do so means that you’re just not making the effort. To fail to do so means that you might not have been sufficiently brainwashed by the $60 billion diet industry and might be so audacious as to have some remaining self esteem that isn’t totally tied into making you feel like shit about yourself so you will buy more crap – more diet drugs, more make-up, more clothing, more cupcakes… in the misplaced hope that this will be the thing that does the trick and makes you love yourself.

It’s just all so sad. That someone needs an excuse to eat a cupcake. That it has to be framed as “decadent” (thus making it both more alluring and more off-putting, depending on your personal level of piousness and/or dedication). And it’s especially sad that even the food manufacturers have to use these silly tricks to sell us their products.

Because instead of allowing the consumer to enjoy a cupcake, the guilt never lets up. It’s for Cheat Day. I wonder what happens if you have one on a regular diet day? Does the world end? Or does the consumer just spend the day hating themselves for not having the inner strength and will power to wait? Cupcakes with an extra sprinkling of guilt and self-loathing?

We are so seriously messed up in how we look at food. Think about it – we live in a society where it is so ingrained and expected that everyone will be on a diet all the time that cake is specifically marketed to people wanting to cheat on that diet. And the more we fetishize certain foods, such as chocolate, the more distorted their role in our lives becomes.

It’s okay to eat chocolate. It’s not sinful or decadent. You don’t have to wait until “cheat day”. It’s just chocolate, and has actually been found to have health benefits.

It’s also okay to not be on a diet. I know, crazy, right? But you’re allowed to eat whatever you want. And I suspect that if we all looked upon food, even foods that are high in calories and fat, as tasty or not-tasty things that we put in our faceholes because it keeps us from falling down, as opposed to classifying foods into good or bad or decadent or sinful, then we’d have both healthier bodies and healthier attitudes towards those foods. We wouldn’t need to feel guilty. We wouldn’t need “cheat” days. We’d be able to achieve some kind of balance without feeling like shit about ourselves.

Let’s end the need to cheat. Let’s stop allowing the media and the diet industry and boxes of stupid cupcakes make us feel guilty and shamed over what foods we eat. This attitude – that all of us; all fat people, all fat women, especially –  must always be on a diet, all the time – is doing more damage to our collective well-being than a cupcake ever could.