Monthly Archives: July 2010

On eating disorders and the patriarchy

Last night, a feminist friend and I* were out drinking with a man. We’re all mid-to-upper class whites, well educated, socially mobile, and currently living in Benin. The man, several years out of undergrad, was astounded at the high numbers of women who had eating disorders while he was in school. My friend and I were not. Actually, we responded with derision. “What? The rates for your school weren’t high. They’re typical.”

He was appalled.

We explained the intense social pressure on women raised by second-wave feminists. We have been told that we can do anything and be anything. It’s an empowering message, and it’s one that we should continue communicating to all of our children; however, society tells these girls that not only can they do anything and everything, but they must. Straight-A students. Captains of the soccer team. Presidents of the debate club. Dancers. Musicians. Actors. We can do anything we want, even be the president.

Outward prettiness (i.e. being thin) is one more thing that well educated girls need on our way to the top. We’re not stupid. We know that our fortunes are tied to our looks, and we’ve been raised believing that there’s nothing in this world that we can’t do if we work hard enough (because there isn’t … wait! what?!).

Needing to control your appearance + being told that you can achieve anything = We WILL be thin, even if it kills us. Because we can do anything. And not doing it just means that we’re not working hard enugh.

My friend and I were talking about how we’d both done some stupid shit to lose weight, as early as high school. I remember summers where I swam 5 days a week at the Y with my mom, then came home and ate 600 calories (2 sandwiches) for the rest of the day. Or summers at my grandmothers where I would bike for 4 hours a day, not because I loved it, but because she had given cookies to my brother and refused them to me–I was chubby even as a child. Who needs lunch in high school? Cigarettes and Diet Coke should be enough for any growing girl.

I learned how to suck in my stomach in the 4th grade. WTF?!?!?!

We’ve grown up to be relatively well-adjusted women, feminists who believe in women’s right to choose their path, who understand how a patriarchial system affects these choices, and who really just want to do some good in our lives. We know how the system works, and we understand how our self-esteem has been systematically undermined since childhood, and we’re still not over it. We never will be.

* I also self-identify as a feminist

Egg Drop Soup

Eggdrop Soup

I love egg drop soup. It’s hard to find here, in Benin, although rumor has it that there’s one Chinese restaurant that has a passable version. Lucky for me, it’s dead simple to make and super-low calorie too. This may be the only soup recipe where I tell you to go ahead and use faux-broth instead of making it from scratch, but it’s worth it to keep the recipe easy and quick. Continue reading

Modified recipe: Zucchini Garlic Soup

I am addicted to chicken broth. Not the gross sodium-filled broth in a can or broth from a cube, but delicious homemade chicken broth made by boiling leftover bones, onions, garlic, and carrots in a liter or so of water.

I am not equally addicted to zucchinis, but we are still getting them in our CSA, and I needed a healthy low-cal way to:

  1. get some much needed salt into my system
  2. use up a bunch of zucchini
  3. keep me full until poker night started at 9pm

Soup it is! Continue reading

Throw together meals week: “Mexican” “Pizza”

"Mexican" "Pizza"

Cheap, fast, and healthy. The diet industry seems to spend a lot of time telling us that we can only have two out of three: cheap and healthy? Prepare to spend hours slaving over a hot stove. Cheap and fast? Junk food it is. Fast and healthy? It’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Fortunately, we know that this isn’t the case. While knowing how to cook and take advantage of local ingredients is certainly a huge privilege (as is knowing how to search the Internet for advice when I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WAAAAAAAAAH), my favorite recipes are ones I’ve just thrown together. And yes, I know that it takes a serious amount of cooking experience to know how to throw meals together.

This week will is cheap, fast, and healthy week on himynameistheresa. Easy one or two pot meals that can be easily complemented with a salad. They’re not recipes, so much as guides for the clueless. How do you put a complete healthy meal together? Continue reading

On life as I know it.

I passed the Foreign Service written exam. Now I have to write some essays. Then maybe I’ll have to fly back to Washington (oh no! not the briar patch!). Then maybe one day I’ll be a FILTHY FILTHY RICH RICH expat with a big SUV and a big house and domestic staff.

The alternative, which is staying in West Africa and continuing to grow our business, is pretty attractive too.

So life is good.