Eat, Pray, Love the food factor and veganism
Yesterday’s post brought you a view of the creative and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Today I’m tackling the food issue, which I found both inspiring and problematic. As you’ll read just a few lines down, I loved the first section of Gilbert’s book—”Eat”. This section takes place in Italy and is decadent and laced with beautiful imagery, but it’s definitely. Not. Vegan. So this problemitizes things. I find her views and relationship with food to be inspirational, but the food itself is a different story. I think there’s something we can all learn from voyeuristically going along on someone else’s personal journey, especially if it has to do with something we love (eating!). So, without further ado, here is the second half of my assignment for my Women in Creativity class…
Eat, Pray, Love revisited: “Eat” and the Power of the Female Body
My favorite section of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love (EPL) is by far the first section of the memoir: “Eat.” “Eat” takes place in Italy, where Gilbert feasted on all sorts of wonders and delights both culinary and otherwise. She shares roasted chicken with a stray dog and regains her love of dessert through luxurious scoops of fresh gelato, all while soaking up as much Italian as possible through language classes and the friendships she forged while in the boot-shaped country.
While Gilbert somewhat laments the new pants sizes she acquired while in Italy, (though only at the end of the section, and only for a few sentences) her recollections of and emphasis on food and pleasure are both empowering and refreshing in today’s culture. In a society obsessed with thinness, youth, and idealization, and one that condemns what it perceives as larger bodies, Gilbert asserts a powerful yet subtle testimony to the various natural sizes and shapes of women’s bodies. While in Italy, Gilbert recalls that she was the happiest she had been since her divorce and depression had emerged, and she regained both her ability to indulge as well as love herself.
As someone who is fascinated with the portrayal of women and women’s bodies by popular culture, reading a textual description rather than looking at an image was not only refreshing, but also extremely powerful. Gilbert cultivated a healthy relationship with both food and eating while she was in Italy, and learned to allow herself to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. As I mentioned in my last post on EPL, her ability to nurture herself ultimately gave way to the cultivation and re-emergence of her creative genius, something that she literally fed while in Italy.
Gilbert not only fed her body but also her mind and spirit, learning to indulge in the act of indulging. Throughout the whole memoir, she maintains this healthy relationship with food, mentioning it in the two subsequent sections. While this is not only uplifting, it also aids in the reader’s experience taking in Gilbert’s journey. Not only do we see what Gilbert sees, but we also eat what she eats, and are even more swept up in the journey she embarks on. We also share in the feel-good factor. The food makes her feel good, so it makes us feel good too, and shows us that all of those socially prescribed norms around eating? Well they’re just about as silly as not wanting that pizza she falls in love with while in Italy.