Columns, Opinion

HAMEDY: Food for thought

Jennifer Lawrence, the awesome heroine who plays Katniss in the epic “Hunger Games” series, has been under scrutiny by many people for not looking thin enough to play her role as a tribute.

Apparently Hollywood Elsewhere author Jeffrey Wells called her “fairly tall, big-boned lady” who is “too big” for Josh Hutcherson, who plays fellow tribute and eventual love interest, Peeta. Hollywood Reporter author Todd McCarthy said Lawrence’s baby fat is too apparent in the film. The ultimate consensus among some critics: Lawrence isn’t hungry enough.

Hold up – not hungry enough? Oh no! Lawrence doesn’t look thin enough to pull off malnourishment. Quick – call Hollywood dieticians or, better yet, get the girl to allow society to let her fall into using drugs.

These articles from respected publicationare an example of how the public has an appetite for malicious critiques of normal people. And for the record, Lawrence is not fat, she is normal – something more girls should aspire to be. She’s just a strong young adult portraying a strong, independent teenager.

I know this isn’t about London, per se, but being here has made me realize that body image is not something to fret over. Obviously being healthy should be a priority for everyone – children, teenagers and adults alike. But being healthy doesn’t mean being stick thin, and being big should not be a bad thing.

In London, girls wear whatever, wherever and don’t care what their bodies looks like. I’ve seen all shapes and sizes in the streets of this city and never once a nasty look from a catty girl. Not once a whisper about how someone should not be wearing something that tight.

Reality shows in America like “The Hills” put only the skinny girls in the limelight. Whereas in London shows like “The Only Way is Essex” glorify curves (okay, as well as fake boobs and fake tans, but still).  Also in the U.S., people are known for being heavy. News reports constantly highlight the obsession with getting fast food and “super sizing” all portions. In London, while people love and value food as well, portions are smaller and people do not engulf their meals because they appreciate them, bite by bite.

Perhaps I am perpetuating too much of a “Mean Girls” outlook on the American public’s idea of beauty, but growing up in Los Angeles has sort of warped my idea of what the “perfect body” should be. I’ve even joked about weight gain in my columns, complaining about how being abroad makes me eat more and exercise less.

But with one month left, I think I can now accept that part of being abroad entails eating. Brussels without Belgian waffles and chocolate would have just been a playground for the European Union. Paris without a crepe would have just been wrong. And when I go to Italy (EAT-ily) in May, I plan on packing on some pounds and eating my feelings . . . feelings of happiness.

I remember before coming here everyone said, “Oh you’re going to lose so much weight over there – the food sucks!” And just about a month ago, NPR ran a piece on how British dining has a reputation for being atrocious.

The thing is, food here is not atrocious. It’s delicious . . . and at first I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but I can’t not eat.

Take Brick Lane, for example. If you want something ethnic, you go here. The Sunday Market was like a tour around the world. My friend and I literally spent six hours there, tasting and gawking at food – from paella to samosas, there was nothing missing here. And the people! Their appreciation for food made me appreciate the food more. They eat it all with no remorse. On this particular Sunday, the sun was shining and hipsters were not sparse. The entire market was filled with people packed like sardines, and hundreds lounged in the vast expanses of parking lot. Or any pubs. Order fish, chips and cider. Enough said.

If this doesn’t satisfy you, go to Borough Market where there are fruits, vegetables, fish and meat – oh my! Like a farmers’ market to an unprecedented level, there is nothing missing from this place either.

Not to mention Camden Market. While mostly home to clothes and the alternative crowd, the market also has a small but delicious area for eats. Similar to Brick Lane in that it has cuisines from all over the world, this is where you go when you want to shop and eat.

But I’m not even scratching the surface. My point is, food is too good to pretend not to crave, and an emphasis on the “perfect body” is pointless.

We all only live once, so we might as well stuff our faces and work it off later.


Saba Hamedy is a College of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences junior, Fall 2011 editor-in-chief of The Daily Free Press and now a weekly columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]

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