Let them eat cake, or not, according to their actual desire and not to Stick It To The Man

May 6 is International No-Diet day, and as per usual I found this out on May 7 (thank you,GMT +12 timezone!).  So no belated post from me.

However, Maia at The Hand Mirror blew my mind with her post Cake is not the opposite of diet.

I don’t think dessert is the opposite of dieting. I think to suggest that it is is to perpetuate a shallow, unhelpful understanding of the role of food in our society. Food and control are so tightly linked that the only other alternative to controlling your food intake is losing control of your food intake.

I think I’d still have to grant the Worst Use of No Diet Day to the twerps who still sincerely opine about “healthy body shapes” and “eating healthily”, but this is a fucking good point.

If we are stuck in a society which makes us question our food intake, which turns food into points, a society in which I literally cannot go a day without hearing a woman putting down her own body or pre-emptively apologising for putting butter on her hot cross buns for morning tea – and especially when the diet/guilt industrial complex has already quite thoroughly co-opted the idea of “cheating” or “taking breaks” or “letting yourself go for a special occasion” … well, one day’s eating two whole cakes, specifically for the purpose of displaying our rebellion, just doesn’t grab me as either effective or particularly esteem-building.

Not when a shit-tonne of women are likely spending May 7 feeling weak-willed and like failures, cutting their portions even more than normal to “make up” for “being naughty”.  Not when the patriarchy doesn’t even have to punish us for our rebellion because we’re busy punishing ourselves.

You know what actually messes with The Man?  Eating dessert when you want dessert.  Eating salad because you love salad, and saying so to any smug assholes who take it upon themselves to comment on your choice.  Refusing to mouth the rote apologies for ordering a tremendously delicious cake for a coworker’s going-away do (/personalrant).

I still like No Diet Day.  Its mere existence, its statement to the world that you don’t actually have to spend every day policing yourself, mind and body, is a great thing.  But when we say, “it’s no-diet day, so let’s be naughty!” we’re still saying that food is naughty. We’re still thinking it.  And that means we lose.

ETA: And in case Cactus Kate is out there, here’s Food from Bavaria’s page on Prince Regent Cake.  Enjoy!



  1. Sherry

    Holy crap you just summed up how I was feeling at the end on No Diet Day (and at different points of many other days). . . It was interesting and extremely down-heartening to acknowledge the day on FaceBook (hey, I wanted to get the message out there in some way. . . ) by saying “Happy ‘International No Diet Day’ everyone! Make sure you say something nice about your body today – sometimes we don’t do that enough !!!”. What I proceeded to receive in replies were variations of:
    *”Does that mean I don’t have to go for a run today?”
    *”That makes me feel better for pigging-out earlier!”
    *”Does that mean it’s okay to eat chocolate today?”
    etc. etc.

    No one seemed to understand that the purpose wasn’t to eat foods that have been labeled as “bad” on this particular day and “it didn’t matter”.

    UNTIL an amazing woman said that she appreciated her body for enabling her to bring her beautiful children into this world. . . which encouraged others to share why their bodies were wonderful 🙂 Bless.

  2. Nick

    “You know what actually messes with The Man”. What actually messes with “this man” is when I lovingly prepare a bloody wonderful desert and a “sister” refuses the offer on the basis of all you describe above. “A moment on the lips, a life on the hips” is the oft repeated reply. “Nice hips” I am about to retort when self preservation kicks in and cuts me short. So females, from this bloke go ahead, the cream cakes great but I would recommend the Black Forest gateau. Enjoy, and perhaps try something else tomorrow.