I’ve always tried very hard not to judge myself about my body weight. I’m not fat, but I’m also not skinny. I’ve always been told that I’m a perfectly healthy weight for my height and body build. I’m not someone who enjoys working out, but I know it’s good for me, and I also try to eat food that is good for me as often as possible. However, over quarantine, I became more conscious about my weight because I was not as active as I had been while at school. Looking back on it now, I only gained maybe 4 pounds, which is really not that much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s interesting how distressed it made me.
This semester taking Professor Farrell’s fat studies class has really opened my eyes to how much I criticized myself about my body and my weight gain over quarantine and how I used to exercise because I wanted to look in shape rather than feel healthy and strong. Taking the class also made me think about how often I would feel guilty about eating something that I knew wasn’t necessarily healthy but was something I wanted to eat.
Reading the poem, “Kitchen” by Susan Stinson really spoke to me about this guilt that I had when eating certain foods. The last stanza where she writes, “Leaving the tradition of a woman/in the body of a cat,/we become whales,/all mouths,/all surface,/all grace” (Stinson 18), caught my eye. I love the idea behind “Leaving the tradition of a woman/in the body of a cat.” I took this to mean that a woman’s tradition is to question what she eats and be hard on herself about what she eats, so women should give this tradition up place it on the body of a cat to free herself from that constant nagging.
It has still been hard for me not to judge what I eat even now that I’m back at school and moving around a lot more than I did when I was at home. However, thinking about these feelings in terms of this poem makes me realize how I shouldn’t be ashamed of what I eat and should leave that embarrassment and pressure and give it to a cat. I feel like the poem is telling us to, in a way, be a cat because a cat could care less what they eat, and we should try to do the same.