Girl Eat started a long, long time ago. The idea came to me when I was sitting in a little restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria with my parents and my boyfriend. I watched a beautiful, young lady pick at a salad while her boyfriend/guy friend/husband/brother/male person in her life chowed down on bread, pizza, dessert.
When she stood up, I saw how thin she was. I saw how painfully thin she was. More than anything else, that night, what I really wanted to say to her was simple. I wanted to tell her to eat.
The idea had ruminated in my head for some time before that, off and on. A lawyer by day, my creative instincts took over on my off time. There was a time, a time that now feels like an eternity ago, when I was sick, when I did not eat, when I was underweight, unhappy, and overwhelmed. Back then, it took an almost stranger to tell me the same thing before it sunk through. Eat.
Now, I am semi-healthy, completely happy, and I want that for everyone. Perhaps the girl at the restaurant was not hungry. Perhaps the women in my office who choose to starve themselves, to stop enjoying food and start detesting it, to view eating as a challenge and not a pleasure, to hide food, destroy food, throw food away before eating it do not have a problem. Perhaps they do.
Perhaps the problem is far bigger than we even realize. Magazines, commercials, Hollywood is constantly telling us we can be better by being skinnier. Maybe they are wrong. Maybe we are at our most beautiful when we are happy, when we are healthy.
I stopped writing Girl Eat because I did not think it was meaningful. I did not think it was really reaching people. I wondered if it was worth my time.
Then, almost out of the blue, one of those crazy things happened that makes you wonder whether there really is something behind theidea of this great someone that runs our world. A woman joined my friend circle and did not eat. ever. She would tell us she had eaten already or she was not hungry or she would eat later. She took plates of food at birthday lunches and never took a bite. She looked exhausted, aged, unhealthy, starved. She ate the nuts out of cookies. She threw away birthday cake. She weighed less than ninety pounds.
That is when it hit me. I never should have stopped. I should have kept writing. If there is one person out there who hears me, who decides to choose food, health, life, over starving and perpetual dieting, then writing Girl Eat will be worth it, more than worth the time, the effort.
I wish we lived in a world where beauty was measured not by the number of pounds or the flatness of our abs or our sunken in faces but by our health, our happiness, our natural beauty, in all forms. And, before I get responses from cynics, let me say this. I do not advocate for an America, or a world, where people are overweight, or unhealthy. I advocate for an America, and a world, where people are healthy, and beautiful because they are healthy. I advocate for an America, and a world, where girls and boys do not starve themselves to look better, where magazines help us get healthier, not just skinnier, where the average size woman feels okay wearing a (gasp!) size 8, and where models do not fall on runways from exhaustion/starvation/deprivation.
My message is simple. Eat.