09 January 2013

our hunger, my hunger

We don't think, as women, we should ever be hungry. It makes us vulnerable. Weak. Disempowered. Fat. Un-thin. De-beautiful. 

                        But we are hungry.

                        Very hungry.

Sometimes more than others. Sometimes we wake up in the morning with such a rumbling discontent in our belly, that it is all that we can do to not eat a four course meal before our first cup of coffee.
 I think about this fact a lot.
& I think about this.
 & I keep thinking a lot about this.
I keep thinking a lot about the physical hunger we have as women.
 I keep thinking about the spiritual hunger we have as well.
 To be loved, and accepted, to be nourished, to care for someone and have that someone care for you back. I have that need, you have that need. All humans have felt it, one time or another; but I believe women carry these two things in their heart heavier than men: this physical hunger and this spiritual hunger.

I don't mean to be a sexist, but I have just observed, since I was quite young, that when things go wrong for us as women, as young girls, as young ladies, we tend to blame our outside physical selves than really trying to understand what someone might be saying or doing. I keep thinking about this blame and shame we place on our bodies and how it keeps us, keeps our daughters and our sisters, from learning to hunger for more than just crumbs. I keep thinking that the shame we place on our own bodies keeps our young girls from wanting more than just being thin. Our daughters want what we want: to be loved and affirmed, to feel pretty and and to be thin. It is only after this first desire that other desires become known or even feel possible. The dream to be one's self becomes secondary, "skinny" trumps all.  It is like a dance, first thin, then smart;  first thin, then President; first thin and then a novelist, or a scientist, or a dancer, or a lover, or a mother. However, our daughters are our reflecting pools & I keep thinking that they want "to be thin" because we want it for Us AND for Them. As a collective body of women, we place this expectation on them from our own systems of belief: that to be someone in this world, to be loved, to have dreams, to "have it all", we believe that first we have to be thin. And this "must be thin" keeps us from knowing our hunger. Keeps us from knowing our hunger and accepting our hunger and loving the craving deep inside for more. The belief that "we have to be thin" keeps us from our own true hunger.

 I keep thinking that for some in this world to be hungry is famine & death; and for others, to be hungry is to be out of control, not wanted, rejected. I keep thinking about this.

I keep thinking about a young girl I recently encountered in one of my sons' classes. I was in his classroom before Winter Break started and the children were having a pizza party to celebrate. I was setting up a holiday craft to do after lunch. All the children were wild and happy and sweaty with the thought of two weeks of freedom.  This young lady in G's class, lets call her Z, she seems to be quite sweet and smart. I see Z clearly gets along well other children, even with my G, who can be surly and obstinate with members of the opposite sex. Z seems well adjusted.  She seems happy. Then I asked some of the children how the pizza was and everyone at my son's table had something to say. Some of them shouted out that they had eaten 3 or 4 slices or that it was soooo good, or how they love pizza.  Yet this girl said to me, "I didn't eat breakfast so I am having a second slice." I keep thinking about her. I keep thinking about what she said. I keep thinking, wondering, why she felt she had to justify her eating to me? To me? A random mom at a random time in her life. And at that moment it didn't matter if she was smart, or pretty or fat or round or even if she was thin, at that moment, however brief or strong it was inside of her, she felt shame about her hunger. I keep thinking about her, that it didn't really matter whether or not she had actually eaten breakfast. Because it didn't really matter.  Her stigma of herself kept her from enjoying her second slice of pizza. I keep thinking about her shame, how it must carry in her heart. She feels that she is different, because Z, somewhere in her heart, sweet young Z sets herself apart from the other children. She sets herself apart, whether it comes from home, or comes from school, or the doctor, she says to herself: "They can enjoy the pizza, I cannot."

I keep thinking about her. And all the ways I wished I could have made it right. I keep thinking about how, in all those tiny moments and all those tiny ways we, we as women, put ourselves down. How we set ourselves apart from the crowd.  Say to ourselves: You are not worthy of that piece of cake, or that second slice of pizza, or that french toast. Your hunger is shameful and doesn't count. I keep thinking about this because I keep thinking about Z.  I keep wondering how, in the small fraction of a moment caught in time, I could have shown her that she should love herself and not be afraid to Hunger, not to be afraid to be hungry. That she, sweet smart Z, was worth more than the crumbs she felt she had to justify. 

I believe that feeling hungry is a part of what it means to be human; and to deny that we have "hunger"  is to deny part of our humanity and to deny our rightful place in this world.

I keep thinking about it.


  1. Such thoughtful words and a deep and meaningful post.

    I'm not too sure to be honest, maybe it's something that comes with age or maybe it hits some sooner then others - not that it makes it right - but a lot to think about indeed and that can't be a bad thing.

    Nina x

    1. Thanks Nina. I probably think too much sometimes, but it was one of those moments that made my heart ache so. Not sure why, other than I wish we could separate our physical beauty from our self worth. Especially in young girls.xxoo


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