As many of you may already be aware, TopShop has recently been hosting a Golden Gaytime Crumb Shed pop up. If you didn’t get a chance to go, I can safely say it was so delicious that I would have contemplated another trip up to Sydney purely for another custom made Gaytime. It was doubly exciting for me because ice cream is my favourite food, and to top it off Golden Gaytimes are always one of my top picks.
As I was leaving TopShop I came face to face with something that, for a brief moment, kind of killed my buzz. As I left the building with my friend Josie, both giddy with chocolatey, ice creamy happiness, a girl spruiking gym memberships jumped in our faces. She clocked our ice creams and then addresses us directly.
‘Oh, would you girls like a free gym session? Better make sure you work off those ice creams!’
For a second, my stomach dropped. Now, I’m sure that the sales girl meant the comments to be encouraging, but she played straight into one of the biggest problems I have had with my relationship with food: that I should feel guilty about treating myself and enjoying my favourite foods. From the age of about 16 onwards I have struggled to overcome this guilt. At times it has been so bad that I have felt guilty about eating anything at all.
I should say here that I am a big fan of healthy eating, as well as regular exercise, and I believe that there is a time and a place for discussions about healthy lifestyles to be had but, and I feel very strongly about this, that time will never be while making snap judgments about strangers in the street. Luckily I am at a point in my recovery that after an admittedly heart-sinking moment I was able to re-examine where my mind had gone and remind myself that, actually, it was more than okay for me to feel ecstatic about my ice cream, and that it was completely fine for me to enjoy indulging myself. That said, had this happened to me a couple of years ago, I probably would have been running for the nearest bathroom, the excitement of the day ruined.
The implication that I should have to feel guilty about treating myself bugs me so much. Treating myself to a Golden Gaytime should be exactly that, a treat. It was meant to be something that I did purely for the deliciousness and enjoyment. None of us should ever feel guilty about taking a moment for some self care and indulgence. Self care isn’t always ice cream or chocolate, but when it is we should be able to enjoy it without judgment.
It’s important for all of us to understand that discussions about womens’ bodies and eating habits are always going to be topics fraught with tricky implications for most of us. I, as much as anyone, have had to re-think the way I relate to and talk about other women. It’s worth all of us thinking what our words could mean to someone else before we say them.