Examining Perspectives and Priorities
January 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
My awesome, lovely friend Christa Desir wrote recently about rape culture and how it’s gone underground. She got me thinking about the ways we talk about things that are important to us, or more specifically, how what we talk about shows what’s important to us, especially in combination with how we talk about these things. (Sorry for that mouthful.)
Christa’s post is a great example of one of the ways we do this. But because I’m into food and health, I’m going to talk about another. How many times have you seen a recipe labeled “secretly healthy!”? A lot, right? We want to feel good about eating junk food, so we make it with ingredients that are – surprise! – moderately not as bad for us as the original, and call it healthy.
Do you see the catch? The priority here isn’t health! It’s eating junk food. Standard American diets (speaking generally) are not concerned with health if you have to be secretive about eating wholesome ingredients. If you want a candy bar, just own it and either eat it or don’t. Or, make a healthy version that is actually healthy and quit pretending it’s going to taste like the real thing because – okay, I’ll say it – if you’re not eating the real thing, it shouldn’t and won’t taste like it. And that’s not only okay, it’s a good thing.
Why do healthy ingredients need to be secret? Because we won’t eat it if we think it’s not the decadent “real” thing? Because we “deserve” the real thing? It just boggles me when you follow the “secretly healthy” trend to its logical conclusion. If the recipe were openly healthy, would it be eaten? The assumption is no. If not, why not? By hiding the “healthy” ingredient, the assumption is people wouldn’t want that ingredient in their treat. Because they don’t want to eat a healthy version. You see how I’m breaking this down?
Nobody’s going to come out and say “health is not a priority for me,” because consciously that’s not true. But how often do the things we think matter to us actually not, and things we think don’t matter to us actually do? Health is one of these things. Everyone knows health SHOULD be a priority, so they think it is. Maybe they have a walking club and they limit their red meat and they eat whole grain pasta and low-fat cheese. Is that enough? Is that prioritizing health? Maybe. We need the whole picture. But if you’re eating junk food every day, or feeling like you need to sneak vegetables into your meals, chances are no, it’s not enough, and health isn’t the priority you think it is.
Or we love to read but actually spend our free hour in the evening on social media instead of with a book. We still claim we love to read, we just don’t do it. We claim to be past sexism or racism but we don’t talk about it or stand up against it or, in fact, subconsciously contribute to it.
If you recall my old posts about topics like these, you’ll remember I advocate a level of self-awareness that most people don’t even dream of and few can actually attain. I continue the conversation because one of the beauties of aspiration is that striving is its own reward. Awareness is something that is a constant struggle to maintain let alone deepen, but the only way to do it is to keep on keeping on. So keep on. Examine what the things you say and do REALLY say about you and then either change or own them. Do the work.