Mama, I’m Not “Barda” Just Because I Don’t Want to Diet Anymore

By: Rawan Khalil

Growing up the idea of diets was not an idea it was a norm, which sucks because I grew up seeking the comfort of food behind close doors and under dim lights. Eating became a fear to an extent, or an action accompanied by a tonne of discomfort in public- “am I eating too much?” or “am I eating too fast?”. It also became a freedom I have over summer after a year stripped of that freedom so I could fit into my clothes as my mum would repeatedly say. Food became synonymous with guilt. Initially, it was imposed by my mother but that grew into internalised guilt. 

Coming from an Egyptain family didn’t help- it meant that everyone had an opinion and that they were not afraid to voice it. The tant that would say eni khaset 3an el sana eli fatet w eni e7lawet awii w weshii nawar yk. I, of course would get tired of starving myself and go back to stuffing myself with food and would then be met the next year with multiple “tekhenty ya 7abebti” w “kershek tele3” w 

“eih dah masha2allaaaaaah” which are followed by my awkward laughter and disguised eye rolls because what do you say to a 50-year-old no-body whose name you don’t even remember? And, well offending her hayza3al mama w teta w garetna el bashofha fi el sanna marra so yeah, I stuck to the awkward laughter to save myself waga3 el demagh. There was also this one tant who saw me in the beginning of one summer and was like “eih el 7alawa di khasetii” and then saw me again towards the end of summer and was like “el ma7shi maf3oolo bayen tekhenty ya roro”. All I could think about was throwing back: bosi l nafsek f el meraya but we are not really allowed to say that so I didn’t. 

I am convinced that the Egyptian tantat collectively go to a tant-school which is a special place in hell; where a demon trains them on how to make the egyptian youth miserable and insanely uncomfortable. They would feed you until you cannot breathe w bete7lefi msh hatakli soba3 kaman then yestelmooki 3ashan jokes el kersh eli tala3. Seeking their validation is like me trying to get an A* in maths- it’s never going to happen, and hence why I dropped maths. Sadly, there is no “drop-it” option when it comes to the lineup of masaseen el dema2 in family gatherings. 

I lived through years in which I practically starved myself. I would weigh myself and celebrate the lost kilos. I would show off to my parents who were hella proud of my slimmer figure.

I lived through years which I gained a shit-tonne of weight, and my reflection screamed ugly, where my parents’ distressed eyes would bring me down.

I never had this stable body image because my body was never the same and I never really treated it right.

My mum never thought my body looked good, it was always it would look better if you lose *insert number* of kilos. 

It is very difficult to get past the internalised self-hate and shame that are accompanied with food.

Because it requires changing statements like:

“10 year old me was too fat.”

“12 year old me was too fat.”

“15 year old me was too fat.”

“Currently, I am too fat.”

to more positive-sounding statements like:

“10 year old me was cute.”

“12 year old me was cute.”

“15 year old me was cute. “

“Current me is cute.” 

Ana et3a2adt mn el diets, no joke. 

I am tired of having a long ass day at school to come home to vegetable soup- which I love by the way but I sometimes need to eat more and that’s okay. I have to justify that to myself because I have lived years thinking that asking for more food is a sin. I have lived years believing that saying okay to more food is a sin. 

But, I have reached a point in my life where I am aware of how drained I am when I am not taking care of my body whether that is by eating too little or not exercising. Both those things make me feel drained. Both those actions are bad for my body, but sadly one is applauded. 

I have reached a point in my life where I try not to link food with fear, guilt or shame but instead enjoyment, fulfillment and health. Sadly, mama thinks that means eni barda. But, I am not about to spend everyday of my life bandam 3ala a piece of cake, or a bar of chocolate when I could enjoy them guilt-free. 

It’s okay to enjoy some candy, msh lazem to lace it with regret.

Choosing not to diet is not a “barda” decision. Choosing to diet is not a “barda” either. As long as you are fully taking care of your body, and working out what works for you and what doesn’t, what makes you feel nourished and what drains you and then sticking with what nourishes you while enjoying what you take in with no guilt, because honestly ain’t nobody got time for that.

Enjoy the candy, 

Rawan x

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