Fairest shmairest! Let’s get real about beauty and body image. Mirror, Mirror is a column running every other Thursday on The Frisky. It is written by Brooklyn-based columnist, freelance writer, and bagel enthusiast, Kate Fridkis who also writes the blog Eat the Damn Cake. You can follow her on Twitter at @eatthedamncake.
I am the only person in my family who eats carbs. I am a rebel. But I am not able to be self-righteous about it because I might be killing myself with sugar. I don’t want to die! But these doughnuts are so friggin’ good. Am I just weak-willed and gross? Or is it possibly a little bit OK to eat some junk food once in a while? Or, you know, the occasional carb.
My whole family is not only mostly composed of type one diabetics, but also, everyone is obsessed with health. All the time. Everyone is passing around these 500-page books called Sugar: The Mass Murderer and Why You Will Die From Eating That Thing You’re Eating Right Now.
I grew up eating all organic. We lived in a rural area and my mom grew all of our vegetables. The rest of our food came by truck, frozen, from a distant, organic coop. As a kid, I thought pasta was made from artichokes. OUR pasta was, anyway.
Type one diabetes, in case anyone was wondering, is the kind that doesn’t have anything to do with what you ate first. It’s a chronic illness that you have to take insulin shots every day for, and it really, really sucks. Not eating carbs makes it a lot easier to regulate your blood sugar, which is really important. So my dad and my youngest brother and my husband and my husband’s mom all don’t eat carbs. Because that’s how many diabetics there are in my life.
What is this? Some sort of weird life-long reality show?
Watch her closely as we introduce yet ANOTHER diabetic into her life. Will she finally catch on? Or will she continue to live inside The Diabetes Bubble TM?!
But my other brother and my mom, who are not type one diabetics, also don’t eat carbs.
My brother used to weigh a lot more than he does now but then he went on this personal crusade and lost approximately a million pounds and got really ripped and went through a phase where he wore wife beaters all the time. He eats, like, a can of tuna every day. And maybe some salad. He hasn’t had dessert in years. Everyone is really proud of him for this. It shows strength of will. I don’t honestly have any idea how he does it, but I suspect he inherited some superpower that missed me. (I got the hairy toes! I have something to remember great grandpa by, too!) My mom went on a no-carb diet about two years ago, and she’s never stopped. She seems relieved. She fits in with the rest of my family. She’s really thin now, and everyone can eat the same things.
“What are you eating?” she says, horrified, snatching the bag of chips out of my hands when I visit for a weekend. “Do you eat nothing but junk food?”
I eat a lot of other stuff, actually. I cooked a vegetable that I didn’t even know the name of the other night. It was not kohlrabi. That’s a different one.
But I love junk food. I love it in a time and a place where junk food is the enemy. I have donuts in my cabinet and I really look forward to eating them. I feel like the evening isn’t complete without dessert. It’s not a real meal without something sweet, and also, lunch is always better than dinner, because of the bread. But dinner is good if you order dessert at the same time. This causes the waiter to look at you funny, and then he tries to reason with you for a while. He says, “Are you sure?” And then he says, “So … you want dessert at the exact same time as your meal?” And then he forgets to bring them out at the same time, because it feels wrong to him. My ideal meal is from Shake Shack [a burger joint in New York City]. Cheeseburger and a strawberry shake, but you don’t have to feel as bad, because they use a lot of organic ingredients and there’s no waiter to look at you funny when you order.
In a city where everyone is at least doing compulsive yoga and the phrase “Well, you’re not New York thin” might have been coined on “30 Rock,” but it’s still a thing, in a family where I have to bring my own bagels, in a world where no one will ever shut up about how very, very bad it is to be fat, not because we’re saying it’s ugly, but because YOU WILL DIE, I just want to be left alone with my Honey Nut Cheerios.
And also, I still don’t really believe it. I mean, I believe that sugar kills and that I am poisoning my body, but I don’t believe I’ll lose more than, like, two years off my life. And I do believe that a lot of people die of cancer before they even get there. And I do believe that life is short anyway, and depriving yourself of the things you love is shitty. And I do believe that you should not be totally unhealthy. That you should work out once in a while. That you should also eat vegetables, and that it’s better if they don’t have chemicals sprayed on them. That fast food is probably the devil. That people should learn to cook for themselves, because you can make delicious stuff that doesn’t involve a ton of preservatives, and it can end up being cheaper, too. I believe that we should stop those kids from getting diabetes, and that schools shouldn’t just give kids pink slime coated in frosting for lunch every day.
So what’s a girl to do?
I have no idea. I’ve been pacing around, thinking about it for a while. I paced over to the cabinet and got a donut, to clear my head. As I ate it, I felt a little guilty. I thought, You know, you’re going to gain more weight, and then where will you be? It’s summer. That means sleeveless dresses and tank tops. That means people will see your arms. You do realize that, right? People will be looking at your arms. Which is where that donut is headed right about now. And also to your heart. Straight to the heart, where it will do bad things, where it will kill you.
But then that idea passed, and I thought, Damn this is good. I stood there in the kitchen, really enjoying life.
Donuts are amazing.
I finished my donut and went back to my computer and I was really glad that I am no longer a kid, and no longer live with my family, and no longer have to eat artichoke pasta.