Some guy asked me where I got my arms, and I told him, “my parents,” because I pictured him trying to order them off of Amazon, and it confused me.
He laughed because he thought I was joking, and then asked if I was an athlete. This made me uncomfortable because I would really like to actually be an athlete, but I’m not, except for all the yoga, and it’s terribly difficult to explain the muscle mechanics of being upside down in a conversation that has little to no attention span.
I did my best to deflect, as I usually do when it comes to appearance. Growing up in Southern Indiana, it was ingrained at an early age not to discuss certain topics in public. Religion, politics and money were off the table outside of your own house, and it’s a tenet I stick to pretty closely even still. No one will ever convince a polar opposite of their shortcomings in 140 characters.
If I could amend the taboo trifecta, it would be to include body image and diet on the list. As in, telling people how to control either one. There are just some things better kept inside your house. Or your head.
Since 2011, I have been gluten-free. It’s not something I tell people unless I have to refrain from eating something, because it sounds like “affluenza” or whatever we’re now calling “general assholism.”
There have been lots of diets along the way. I ate ten grams of fat or less a day for two years. For another three years I didn’t eat dairy, though that was caused by the lack of fat ingestion. One year I didn’t eat any processed sugar. And then I had four cookies on my birthday and thought the world was ending through the nuclear pain in my stomach. I vowed never again to be so extreme.
The protein bars and popcorn diet was born of laziness, and the trail-mix-on-sale-at-CVS diet was when I was broke. Peanut butter cured/fueled depression in my first year teaching, oatmeal helped me study for my personal training exam, and I will never be able to eat either one on their own again.
Most, if not all, of these were ways to try and eat food that didn’t hurt my stomach. I didn’t stop eating bread because I thought it would make me lose weight; I pretty much exclusively eat nachos, in various forms. I did it because it finally made me feel not swollen and not hurt and not a crazed diet monster who hates her insides.
People don’t need to know that though. What works for my stomach has no bearing on what will work for theirs, and it confuses me when others try to push food ideologies on me like Jehovah’s Vegans. Or when they think muscle tone might be on sale at Target.
At a Derby party a couple years ago, a friend of a friend offered me a pot brownie.
“Oh, no thanks,” I said. “I don’t eat gluten.”
Some things are just better kept inside your head.