Birds do it. Bees do it. And if we’re continuing with that theme, even educated flees do it.
I do it. I eat alone.
Yes, in my head all of the above was sung to that tune.
Unlike falling in love, as Ella Fitzgerald puts it, eating alone does not seem to be something we all do. Eating alone requires a certain confidence; a balanced ego, if you will. Of course, if your ego is so large that you become insecure, which is normal so don’t be too worrisome if this is you, then you would never be seen eating alone. If you are this person, then your ego is dependent on what everyone else thinks of you and your sad salad bar creation with maybe some whole grain bread on the side.
There is also an alternative ego: your ego could be what I would like to think is well-sized, so that you are comfortable enough to eat alone without having to tell a passing friend, “Oh, I’m just reading quietly here, getting some ME time!” and push her away when in truth, you just had no one to sit with when you got to the place of eating, the home of said pathetic salad bar, and you’d rather stick with your story than admit your intentions were not solitude and loneliness from the start.
There is an art to eating alone, of course, no matter what size your ego decides to make itself on any day of the week. One must consider where he or she is eating (consider seating arrangements, location of place, type of eatery/cuisine), what he or she is eating, and what he or she is doing, if anything, while eating.
All rules can fly out the window if you decide to throw them there. My dad has two great stories from his high school years. Both involve vomit, but the more hysterical (and perhaps less disgusting) of the two is when he was driving his ‘Stang (hell yeah daddio) and his inebriated friend was riding shotgun, who proceeded to roll down the passenger window and vomit out onto one of the great highways of central Jersey as my father continued driving at 70 miles per hour.
In this fashion, you can throw the etiquette of eating alone out the window.
To do that, though, you must be truly confident, like the tired, middle aged people on lunch break with not a brain cell to spare for catching up on Instagram or reading the Times. Instead, these people eat alone, like so alone that his or her phone is not in plain sight, and they look out the window and make me think, wow, is this my New York life in ten to twenty years?
These people are the exception, though, because they don’t care about eating alone because they don’t think about eating alone. They just eat.
If you are a college freshman, though, you think and care about eating alone. You think and care about eating alone so much that you have group chats with eight girls in them and your conversations, maybe even your friendships, are built from the foundation of sharing meals, eating at the same times, and not being together but rather just not being alone.
To avoid eating alone at any stage of life, one might get “to-go” or “take out” and eat at his or her desk. Whenever I try to do this, whether it’s to save time or to avoid eating alone, I can never actually work and eat simultaneously. I have discovered that it is a lot more comfortable to eat in a place of eating, where you can chew freely, and if I’m going to be catching up on Instagram for those fifteen or twenty minutes regardless of where I am, I may as well eat alone.
So, I do. I eat alone.
I’m not the best at it, though. I usually spend my time on my phone, or writing emails between bites. Once in a while, however, I have no shame. I get quality, one-on-one time with Dinner or Lunch, who become proper nouns when your friends with real names are not dining with you, and I just look at my food and think about chewing like the French nutritionists tell us to do.
In the city, I can eat alone anywhere at any time and feel okay. In suburbia, however, I cannot do that. This could be for a few reasons: I am still afraid of half of the people I went to high school with and their judgments; the odds of me running into someone I know, even a mother, at an eatery is too high, and our conversation would ruin the point of eating alone; when I am in suburbia I usually spend most of my free time catching up with people, and the best way to do that is over a meal (arguably because it is a good way to avoid eating alone); people are in less of a rush, restaurants are in less of a rush, there are less places for counter service, less people to people-watch; this leads to everything becoming awkward.
I want to say that eating alone is eating alone, so if I can do it in the city I can do it in a small, Jewish suburb of the city. But then I remember that eating alone, like the math from AP Calculus I have very much forgotten, depends on its factors, as previously stated; it is not an independent variable. Math people: did I do that right?
I have no problem eating alone when I’m alone, if that makes sense. I don’t get self-conscious. I’ll face the world solo with my fork and knife — and teaspoon, if I’m feeling dessert — even in peak hours of eating.
Do you? Would you? Did you? Don’t do? Should you? LMK. Asking for a friend.
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about Selena Gomez.
A few months ago, I noticed that she was looking a little different. She, it seemed, had gotten slightly larger.
Selena Gomez has always been a long lean lanky stick. Like a literal branch that had fallen from a tree. In Wizards of Waverly Place her Free People shirts would just hang on her. And I know she wore a lot of Free People because we had the same six to eight articles of Free People clothing that we both seemed to have repeatedly worn to school in only a way Lizzie McGuire would on her graduation day.
I usually am hyperaware of these things–famous people gaining weight, which is admittedly not a good habit of mine whatsoever but I’ll admit it nonetheless–so I figured I was just being crazy and Selena was just being a normal person.
Then, a month or two went by, and Selena stayed the same. A little “fuller.” Certainly, certainly not “fat.” But healthy.
And then the headlines started. The first one I saw read, “Selena Gomez Shows Off Her Curves in Polka-Dot Bikini After Facing Criticism from Body Shamers.” The second one read, “Selena Gomez ‘Is In a Really Great Place,’ Not Bothered by Body Shamers.” That one went up on the same publication less than 24 hours after the first headline.
Here are some memorable lines from the articles:
“Selena Gomez couldn’t care less what you think of her curves.”
And from another publication: “Looking good, Selena!”
“Taking a dip in the ocean, the 22-year-old “I Want You to Know” singer looked healthy as she enjoyed her day on the beach with a couple of gal pals.”
I thought a lot about what I was seeing but never criticizing, and how it was confirmed by my Facebook news feed. And I started to wonder why we, or the media we feed and consume, have made backhanded body-shaming the new black. Think about it: it used to be all about who’s gaining weight. I mean, it’s still about gaining weight, but it used to be OUT THERE. I think for a solid five years in the earlier 2000s all I did was read about Kirstie Alley and her experiences on Jenny Craig. Now, it’s “in” to write about the body-shaming stars endure and then show how they ward off the evil spirits by going to the beach and still wearing a bikini.
Well, have you ever thought that a celebrity’s life mission isn’t to put their haters to rest, but is instead to live a normal happy life, which may involve going to the beach, especially if you live in California and/or have a lot of money like most celebrities do?
Then came Selena’s Instagrams. First, one captioned with, “I love being happy with me yall #theresmoretolove” and another, from just a few days ago, captioned, “Soul cycle aftermath. I. Want. Tacos.”
Holy shit, I thought. She’s playing into it.
I could have been totally wrong, but I saw a weird game of tic-tac-toe going on. She media is insisting that Selena is fucking the haters by wearing a bikini. Now, Selena has decided to play that role–the role of the young celebrity who doesn’t let the body-shamers bring her down, the celebrity who is real and likes SoulCycle but also tacos, too, goddamnit.
What I’m really thinking, though, is that this new thing is probably just Selena’s natural body. You know, the body she has when she isn’t working out for two and a half hours every day and isn’t on a diet regimented by Gwyneth Paltrow. Doctors, nutritionists, moms, EVERYONE talks about the idea of a “natural body” that you have, which is going to be different from everyone else’s, and is the way your body looks when you are treating it just right with *balance*. It reminds me of the two year period where suddenly, all of my friends from all walks of life became a little thicker, or a little wider. No one got “fat,” but we all just started to have “womanly” bodies. We traded lanky limbs for looking like actual humans. It’s a part of growing up.
The problem with all of this is that it’s really kind of difficult to come to a place where you genuinely love that natural body and are happy in it all of the time. It’s a million gazillion times more difficult to do that if you’re famous. The odds that Selena Gomez has gotten to that place, as someone who is currently 22 and has been famous since she and Demi were on Barney, are slim.
The tabloids patting her on the back? Not saying her body looks great, but saying she’s shutting out the haters… that all just draws more unwanted attention to the issue. This makes her think about it more. That makes her accept her body less. Because if it was totally normal, wouldn’t we be not talking about it at all?
It’s like how sometimes, friends tell me, “You have such a unique body, Han!” or “You really are able to work your body.” That’s like saying, “You aren’t super skinny and you don’t have the ‘in’ body shape right now [that’s basically to be so thin you don’t exist] but you still look great!”
So for a while, I let this train of thought convince me that my body was so unique, but in a bad way–in a way that I had no one to relate to, boob to boob, butt to butt–so I would get obsessive about it and spend a lot of time comparing myself to other people just to see if there was someone else like me out there. That way, I would really know how to work it. I would know what to wear. I would know how to make boys think I was a *dimepiece*, though I doubt in reality I actually want to be one.
I loved finding famous people with my body. It doesn’t happen often. I’d like to think I have the body of Scarlett Johansson, which you’ll know isn’t true within watching the first five minutes of Lost in Translation. A personal trainer once told me that I have the Kim Kardashian/J. Lo shape, which made me happy for a few weeks. But, like always, insecurity creeps back.
Things this experience taught me:
Stars aren’t all magically thin. I used to think that being naturally skinny was a requirement for being famous, and that I could never be famous because I don’t have long legs. I used to wonder if it was sheer coincidence that celebrities are all skinny people. I spent so much of my own life trying to look a way I’m not that I couldn’t process how people who aren’t meant to look like that do, and how they become famous.
Selena Gomez weirdly reminded me that stars are humans, and their weight, like mine, fluctuates, and they probably work too hard to be in the shape they’re expected to be in.
But I didn’t need all of this media attention to tell me that. Really, I came to that conclusion when I saw the first Instagram of her, 12 weeks ago, and wondered–
Hmmm, has Selena gained a little weight? Or is it just me?
Image via my homeslice @SelenaGomez
For the past year, I’ve been trying to learn through The FYD. I want to bring up things we accept as normal into question. I wonder why we, as millennials, do the things we do. But eventually, I’ve come to realize and accept that I can write for a thousand years and still never completely understand one thing: the mind of a guy. Tons of magazines, websites, and publications with a female-targeted audience have columns written by men to try and help women figure out what really goes on behind the six packs, the sideburns, and the sex. However, I still feel like “Jared, a college student from Florida!” or “Brian, in his second year of law school!” just aren’t doing it for me. I don’t know Jared, I don’t know Brian, and what both of them (along with the hundreds of other guys who write for girls) state in their pieces is typically predictable.
Enter a new flavor of The Fro-Yo Diairies: “Douche de Leche,” a segment featuring pieces for girls to gape at and guys to laugh at written by some of my closest male friends, almost completely uncensored. I’m not telling them what to say (though I will edit for grammatical errors, obviously I’m too type-A to let that slide) and I’m not telling them how to say it.
Now, I present to you, the first installment of Douche de Leche… enjoy.
Women always think men have these “thoughts” about them. But when I take a step back, the first thing I think about women is the ridiculousness of what they think I’m thinking. Here’s a list of things I find hilarious about women and their most common misconceptions:
1. GIRLS & THEIR HAIR When girls think guys care about their hair. I’m twisted already, do you really think I’m gonna give a shit if your hair is in front of your shoulders or behind? Just don’t shave that shit and it’s all good.
2. GIRLS & DANCING When a girl thinks a guy thinks it’s all good if she doesn’t know how to dance. Guys rage with their homies and raging is fun. But then when I’m dancing, I’m trying to get with you, and it’s just a huge bust if you can’t dance. A shitty dancer and a rager is probably the worst recipe known to mankind.
3. GIRLS BEING FUNNY Girls think that they need to be hilarious for guys to want to be around them. You know, I’d love a funny girl, but you know what I hate? A not funny girl who tries to be funny. If a girl cracks a joke and it’s hilarious, then they probably are amazing. On the other hand, if she makes the joke in the center of a circle that was expecting a funny joke, all she did was let me down. My night is practically ruined. If she didn’t pay for my cab home, I’d take a dump on her doorstep.
4. GIRLS PLAYING HARD TO GET Girls always seem to run into this debate of whether they should play hard to get, or be just be slutty and get the deed done. On a serious note, life is going to put you in your place, so just be yourself. You’re going to find someone who, whatever you’re doing, can’t help but come over to you. To all the ladies that don’t think they will: just be patient. There are so many late night snacks made just for you to substitute for a shitty night. Sooner or later you’ll hit the jackpot, and if you don’t, just move out of the country. They have places like Kyrgyzstan for that.
5. GIRLS EATING Girls always seem to stuff their faces either when they’re tripping balls or they’re in a comfortable sober state. Whatever it is, food goes down your throat and to your stomach (and elsewhere). It’s not too visible to us if you overdose on dinner, but it’s definitely enough for you to feel it and then start getting self-conscious. Self-consciousness is like bacon–you smell it from all the way upstairs. Except self-consciousness is like a pure, fatty, nasty ass piece of bacon I’d never eat. Before you go out, either start feeling good about yourself (because you probably look great), or don’t go out at all if it’ll only make you feel worse.
6. GIRLS & FACEBOOK Girls and Facebook, holy mother****** shit. If there was one thing that really couldn’t matter in this world, its whether you give the kiss face or the other face that definitely doesn’t have a name. Look, if you want to know the truth, the profile pictures are where we’re looking. If guys wanna show someone this hot girl, they don’t say, “Dude, let me show you the 3,000,000 pictures this girl is tagged in.” Instead, it’s more like, “Let me see the most beautiful pictures she has,” which are usually the profile pictures. So ladies, just relax. Your night isn’t over if you take one picture where it looks like you just got punched in the face. It’s all good, don’t worry. Seriously, it’s all good.
Afterward: The author of this piece was very excited to be featured on The FYD and wanted me to share this–I love you all, everybody that reads this, I can’t explain over the internet, but just know that I really do love you all. In other news, guys are insane.