Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

It Doesn’t Feel Any Better When It’s a Compliment.

By Anytimeyoga @anytimeyoga

Several months ago, I posted on what it was like for me to have a stranger comment on my grocery purchases when I was buying food largely societally coded as “bad.” While that particular story had a happy resolution, the particular moment of conflict was shocking and shaming.

The other week, it happened again. Only the foods were different.

I was making our usual grocery shopping run solo this time. As it happened, it was a produce heavy week. Winter squash is in season, which then comprises the “bulk” of at least a couple of meals. Plus, meats weren’t on sale, which is generally our cue to draw from our freezer store (acquired in times when given meats are on sale). The end result was that when it happened, my cart looked like this:

Beans, beans, beans. Lentils (for the food bank). Half and half (girl’s got to have her coffee). Onions, sweet potatoes. Brussels sprouts, jalapenos, avocados. Red apples, yellow apples. Cabbage, mushrooms. Baby carrots, organic kale.

This is where a woman walks up to me from — not across the entire produce section, but across one “island” in the produce section — takes a closer look at my cart, and exclaims, “All those vegetables! Aren’t you good?”

I smiled then lowered my head.

Being overtly shamed for one’s grocery choices is no picnic, I get that, from experience. But being overtly praised for them is really no better.

For one, it still suggests that my food choices are subject to someone else’s approval — and that this is common enough knowledge that “someone else” can be “random other shopper in the grocery store.” What this says to me is that my food policer does not have to be someone I trust, someone I respect, someone in authority over me, someone I even know.

For two, it exposes some of my remaining food insecurities. What if I was on my way to buy bacon, eggs, and lard? As it happens, I was on my way to buy cheese. What if I run into the person who wants to advise me that avocados have too much fat, sweet potatoes too many carbs, baby carrots too much sugar? (All of these, by the way, are things people have said to me — though not necessarily in the grocery store.) That beans should not be eaten because they are difficult to digest? (More advice I have received.)

My food choices are rarely the sum total of what is in my cart in any given week. And my life is never defined in total by my food choices. Moreover, it is not my job for the contents of my grocery cart to pass someone else’s muster — not even when it’s a compliment.

Women grocery shopping

By Bill Branson (Photographer) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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