There’s a quote in Laren Stover’s tongue in cheek guide to the sirens on the screen during the golden age of cinema The Bombshell Manual of Style, an all time favourite of mine. It says ‘A bombshell is never bored, therefore never boring’ having first read that quote at the tender age of 17 its one I’ve tried to apply to my life ever since. To refrain from finding anyone boring, to allow people the scope to discuss at length their chosen interests whether or not they align with mine. However, I must admit, recently I am failing;
I am bored.
I am bored of sitting at a table of dear friends, watching them flick unseeingly through a menu of things they want so desperately to eat, only to settle, with a sigh, on the salad page. They order unwaveringly from there. No dressing, no croutons, no bacon, no cheese. None of whatever they’re not eating at the moment, and there’s always something to omit. Is the line of thinking behind this that if one can rotate the evils to be avoided so cyclically they’ll eventually get bored of eating full stop and then all their problems will be solved?
Don’t get me wrong I love salad, all too often I’m on board with the lettuce-based lunch orderers and happily so! I’m a lover of all things green. But not when my stomach howls dejectedly for bread, when my lips need nothing more than salty fried potatoes or starchy sticky rice. When a late night and a bad day create a craving for comfort only a burger can placate, who am I to argue with a body that’s approximately 200,000 years more experienced in what I need than I am. If and when I turn the page to the offerings of saintly plates filled with all manner of things grown underground and my eyes light up, well then that’s what I’ll order.
Contrariwise, and despite what you may have gleaned from the past few paragraphs, I am not the type to let what others wish to fill up on midday be of my concern. I stand on an issue not of the exclusivity of salad as a lunch option. I am, however, the type to let the conversation over our shared lunches get the hell up my nose. That is, at least, when it is centred around weight. Centred solely around our numbers, numbers on the scale, numbers around waists, numbers on calorie counters. Numbers and neurosis.
Yes, I am bored. I am bored of the intelligent, raucous, caring and beautiful people I have to come call friends reducing themselves to their ability to shed the ever increasing pounds they have around their hips. I am bored of the indigestion caused by listening to endless incorrect nutrition advice circling the table. I am bored of the misery with which everyone looks at their plates of greenery only to find them lacking in chips, or bread, or rice, or joy.
I am bored of wondering why I find myself at lunch with these people again, listening to them discuss their carb intake again. Bored of the conversational offerings being as sparse as those upon our plates. By choice the friends I surround myself with are strong, smart and grounded. These are folk who have the courage to live abroad, have the smarts to hold international jobs, the love to hold families together across the globe, the power to straddle opposing cultures and live successful and fulfilled lives. Why oh why do these attributes not add up to an ability to make other conversation around the table?
I am bored of forgetting why I like my friends. And make no mistake, to me, that is the saddest of sentiments.
I don’t want to know how much my friends weigh. That’s the crux of it. I don’t want to know how much they weigh, I don’t want to know how much they gained, I don’t want to know how much they lost and I don’t want to know how they did it. Moreover, I don’t want to know these particulars about anyone else who is not sat at the table either. I want to know about the beauty they saw in the world today, the one that wasn’t centred around the way in which our flesh is built around our bones. This is the kind of quality I quantify my friends on, these are the things on which I build my friendships, my relationships, my families. What happened to the dial last time you got on the scales my friend, is not a running commentary I need be privy to.
The obesity epidemic sweeping the western world is not something that can be ignored but the dieting pandemic traipsing in its wake is similarly not something that can be tolerated. The cruel, self deprecating, heart breaking way in which talking about our bodies has become the social, acceptable norm, this is the reason we have to change. The fact that that way of talking can invade an entire afternoon, can maul the air and breath out of any other topic of discussion is the horrific reality on which we must act. And we must before it consumes us whole. The fact that these discussions we hold, thinly veiled as support for our companions’ efforts in the everlasting battle of the bulge, will shape the way we, and our children will view their bodies for generations to come, is a foundation on which we need to build change.
And so, I end with a request. An angry, imploring, pleading, favour I ask of those closest to me but make no mistake I extend to those sitting at lunch tables across the developed world with their skinny lattes, green salads, worried minds and sad faces: Stop. Stop reducing yourselves to a tangle of deficit calories and surplus inches. Stop simplifying your incredible complex soul to one only capable of salvation if you can refuse the chocolate that comes with your non-fat coffee. Stop clouding your friends’ reasons for liking you, stop forgetting why you liked your friends in the first place.
Please, please stop boring me.