A sweet NYT story documents the disappearance of college cafeteria trays. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/nyregion/29tray.html?_r=1&hp
For me, memories of college, cafeterias, weight, body image, stress and exercise are all intermixed, as they surely are for so many women who are or once were in their late teens or early twenties; living on their own for the first time; contending with social and academic pressures; and confronting gustatory temptations on- and off-campus day and night. In the autumn of my freshman year, I lost the 15 or so pounds I’d been battling throughout high school – only to gain about 40 pounds that spring, gorging on late-night pizza during late nights at the campus newspaper. Junior year saw substantial weight loss to the point where a campus doctor warned she’d diagnose me as “borderline anorexic” if I didn’t start gaining pounds. Cafeteria trays were part of problem and the solution to my weight woes during those four years: When I was dieting, they held bowls heaped with dressing-less salad, apples and oranges bobbling around as I walked from food line to table. On low days I’d place paper napkins over the big, round chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies the school bakers churned out – so no one could spy the stash the fat girl planned to take up to her dorm room. (As if anyone would have noticed or cared – but it’s how I felt.)For so many teenage girls and grown women, food is a painful pleasure. When one has had a weight problem, eating plays a disproportionate role in one’s life. It’s cliched but, I believe, true that life’s harder – socially and probably also professionally – for overweight women than for men. That said, I’ve been watching re-runs of “The Biggest Loser”; they’ve suddenly appeared on one of the cable TV channels we get here in Asia. The agony and joy of the men and women alike as they claim their achievements – whether losing 50 or 150 pounds – makes it one of the most marvelous viewing experiences around. One of the positive things about being a food-obsessed former fatty is I can relate to anyone and everyone with a weight problem. We’re all in it together.