As the movie Eating (1990) portrays, many women of all
ages, backgrounds, shapes and sizes have problems concerning food.
For many women in the film their problems spring from feeling
uncomfortable around other women, especially those who felt their
mothers constantly criticized them. For others their problems
arise from not feeling accepted or loved by the men in their lives,
both fathers and husbands. However, the stories that affected
me greatest are confessed during the filming of the documentary
when one woman admits that as a child she spent hours sitting
in front of the TV with a giant bowl of oatmeal, just eating away,
in an attempt to fill the black hole inside herself. Another confesses
that food and a book were her two best friends. She feels that
food was the only constant and control in her life. These stories
affected me the greatest because I myself can connect with them.
I spent many hours as a child alone, I can remember walking out
to recess alone, the little girl in "coke bottle" glasses
who no one wanted to play with. I retreated to the swing at the
far end of the playground and watched the other children play
while I slipped off into a daydream, in which I was the most popular
girl in school, glasses and all. Walking home from school was
more of the same: groups of happy children walked in front and
behind me laughing and giggling, but never inviting me to join
in or even walk with them.
When I got home I always went straight to the kitchen grabbed
a snack and sat in front of the tv and ate. Food was the only
thing I had control over; it helped to fill the emptiness I felt
inside, and provided me with a sense of comfort and allowed me
to use my imagination. Animal cookies were always my favorite,
because I could pretend they were my friends. I substituted my
cookies for human friends, which I could not find in the real
word. I used to sit with the cookies for hours talking to them
and pretending they were alive. We used to play and go on safaris
scouting out all the bad animals of the jungle. My cookie friends
would never tease me because I wore glasses, and didn't have fancy
clothes, and even if imagined that a circus elephant had dared
to tease me I could simply bite its head off, which seemed to
be a justifiable punishment for the offense of teasing me. Fortunately
for me a new girl came into our class, and we quickly became friends
and for the most part my dependence on food for comfort ended.
Many young children today have this same problem. They grow up feeling alone and abandoned, whether it is because of the loss of one or both of their parents, parental neglect, or trouble at school. Many are not as lucky as I was. They never grow out of their dependence on food. I am sure many are still sitting at home playing with their animal cookies as a substitute for real friends. However, in reality it is not only children which have this problem. For many adults, friends are rare and relationships are often even rarer. Many adults look to food as a substitute for companionship. I even find myself turning to food for comfort to help fill the black hole of loneliness I often feel growing inside me.