Over the past several months, two ideas in the food and beverage world have really gotten under my skin. The first is the new marketing campaign for SkinnyGirl, and the second is the increasing use of the phrase “clean eating” in articles and blogs. It takes a lot to get me on a feminist high horse, but both of these have me reaching for my placards and ready to march on…well, not Washington, but on the marketing boardrooms of the world.
Let’s start with SkinnyGirl. Their new slogan is – wait for it – “Drink Like a Lady.” Because apparently, to be a proper lady, you have to be so concerned about calorie counts that you willingly drink a synthetic “low-calorie” version of a margarita instead of learning how to shake up your own using all of three ingredients. Although the ingredient list for SkinnyGirl is notoriously hard to find, it does seem to contain the following: water, tequila, agave, citric acid, natural flavor, caramel, sugar, sodium benzoate. Here’s what my margaritas contain: top shelf tequila, grand marnier, fresh squeezed lime juice. And I know how to mix them, serve them, and get people so drunk off of them that they go home and mistakenly get pregnant (sorry again, Julie). It appears I’m not very good at being a lady. And if drinking SkinnyGirl is the barometer by which I am being judged, then I prefer to pass altogether.
Even more disheartening for me has been the idea of “clean eating.” Let me start by being clear – I am a very “clean” eater. I stay away from processed foods, my consumption of fruits and vegetables is off the charts, almost all of my meals are home made, I eat almost no white flour, I add chia to my smoothies, and this summer I’ve naturally started to walk away from meat as well (bacon and meatballs do not count). Despite that, I truly dislike thinking of this as clean eating. If you assign the term clean to some foods, then others are the opposite. And the opposite of clean is dirty. And when you get into clean vs dirty foods, you assign a judgement and a value to not only the food you eat, but your own worth. I ate clean foods today, therefore I am clean and strong. I ate dirty foods today, therefore I am dirty and weak. That gives food a lot of power; and too many people, but especially women, struggle with the power that food has over them. It also places ice cream in the dirty category, and dammit, that’s just not right.
This week in a yoga class I took, the teacher read a poem that truly spoke to me on both of these issues. It was such a moment of awakening for me, and it has inspired me to view food and drink in a new way.
Love After Love by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott did not suggest that you greet yourself with carrot sticks and SkinnyGirl margaritas! It’s about nourishing yourself in everything that you do – feasting on your very life. Why assign judgement to food, when instead if can be a part of the foundation by which we nourish ourselves, both physically and emotionally?
Today, I embraced my food, celebrated it, enjoyed it, assigned no judgement to it – and it nourished me. My lunch was a small cup of spicy gazpacho with a swirl of greek yogurt and a spelt salad on the side. I enjoyed every second if its “clean” goodness. For dinner, my sister-in-law and I celebrated her birthday with mojitos and and a HUGE delectable pizza – one of the tastiest either of us had eaten in recent history. I truly enjoyed every bite and felt no hesitation about helping myself to piece after piece. It’s the first time in my life that I have never berated myself through every bite of pizza for not having the willpower to make a healthier decision. I took away the “dirty,” and I took away its power.
So please, no more SkinnyGirl margaritas. No more SkinnyGirl wines. Come to UG and let us teach you how to make the real thing, or help you choose a bottle of wine that will excite and intrigue you. Then go home, shake up a drink or pour a glass, and savor it and the person drinking it – you. Life is simply too short to drink like a lady.