Monday, September 1, 2014

An Open Letter to the Health Obsessed

I'm in a mood today. I don't know what triggered it; maybe it was the 17 spam emails from  various health-centric blogs and websites sitting in my inbox this morning, making me feel like I am the worst thing to happen to the earth since the discovery of fossil fuels. I've written an open letter to every hipster, vegan, pro-paleo human walking the earth, who feels the need to preach their practices onto the rest of the populace.

Dear "Healthy People":  Stop making me feel guilty.

I'm not particularly unhealthy. I enjoy doing my part for the environment, too. I compost food scraps and carry my own shopping bags. I use coconut oil instead of body lotion. I don't put white sugar in... anything. I do most of my shopping second-hand, because I have my own opinions about mass-produced clothing. I ate quinoa before it was on the shelves at Trader Joe's (and I don't care how hipster that sounds).
But somehow, you've made it impossible for me to think that I'm doing ok. Countless emails bombard my inbox each day with "10 Healthy Foods That Are Bad For You", "Why Your Home is Toxic", and "Is it Better to Eat Paleo or Vegan?" below a photo of an obscenely thin model laughing and throwing her hands in the air in the middle of a flowery field while wearing really expensive yoga clothes.

I've got a normal BMI. I don't take any kind of medication. I eat what my body tells me to, even if that is half a pint of Ben & Jerrys. I do tend to avoid processed foods, though, as I cook everything from scratch and mostly eat vegetables. Any doctor will tell you that I'm in good health, with relatively low risk factors for serious illness. But no, you've decided that each and every day is a guilt trip because I'm not replacing a bottle of Chanel with lavender oil, and I'm still using lemon Pledge on my bedroom furniture. Heads up: white vinegar will NOT remove the soap scum from my shower, and my hair looks like crap when I don't use shampoo, so I'm going to stick with the mass-produced solutions to these issues, and I'm sorry I'm not sorry.

 I just ate white toast with non-organic butter. Deal with it.

For a while, I was putting chia seeds in everything. I was on a juice cleanse every other week, and I made all of my own home cleaning solutions. But life just... sucked. Even when I was doing absolutely everything I could to be all-natural, all-organic, and uber-eco-friendly, I was breaking myself down, not to mention breaking the bank. It was an obsession, and I felt as if any aspect of my life that wasn't health-blog-perfect was a downright failure. It's sort of like the way that the modern woman is expected to be an amazing business woman/career person AND the perfect, always-there mom, and the head of the household, and a professional chef, and superwoman, and a perfectly dressed blogger on the side. This is not a reality. Fact.

While you might be able to pull it off if you work for Whole Foods (which is just another conglomerate sucking the funds away from local business, no matter what they try to say in their marketing), the average human (or couple) is in no position to afford a $400/month CSA share. "Oh, look! This week the only groceries we have this week are 6 eggs and a leek and some cheese curds." No. I'm not telling anyone to stop buying organic. I do when I can, and I always will. But I won't fall to the ground in shame every time I eat iceberg lettuce.

I'm not going to feel guilty anymore. I'm not going to criticize your hammock-hanging Instagram-perfect afternoons and your no-bake paleo cookies. I'm not going to cringe when I pass a vegan bakery, because when I can, I do enjoy the healthy, the local, and the overall good-for-you lifestyle. I want to feel good about my choices, but I want to do it on my own terms. Please, back off.

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