Eat, yay, love

Miley Cyrus’s boyfriend says she is sexiest when she’s biting into a steak sandwich, and I believe it. Why I love to watch people pig out, and wish you would, too.

I have a confession to make: I’m a secret eater.

Yep, as a person with food issues (please see an eating disorder spanning several years and dress sizes) who likes things she consumes to be just so (please see Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder–I’m a mess, a charming, befuddling mess), I’ve found it just easier to eat alone. No questions. No looks. No judgement.

However, I love to watch other people eat.

There is something fascinating to me about witnessing the consumption of nutrition. Aside from sleep, I can’t think of a time we are more vulnerable than when we are taking in, and enjoying, a fundamental need. It’s why dogs are food aggressive. It’s why meerkats have a lookout. We let our guard down for the chow down, and I find that tenderness enchanting.

For half a year, I was on a medically supervised fast. I dined on only liquids and sugar-free chewing gum, leaving me plenty of free time (no, really: cut out the preparation and ingestion of foods and it leaves you with a few extra hours each day) to obsess about others’ eating habits. After the initial “I would cut a bitch for a stick of celery and that bitch could be my grandmother if the celery were covered in peanut butter” phase of the fast, I was able to hang out with “eaters” and experience having a meal in a whole new way: from the outside.

Turns out, people have adorable little habits that they may not even realize, themselves. One of my children never ate their pickle if it touched the ketchup, but ketchup was cool on the fries; the man I was dating ate the meat of the fried chicken first, saving the skin as a delicious pre-dessert; my closest friend carefully arranged her food in little stations around the plate and ate counter-clockwise. I found new things to love about the people in my life, because I wasn’t busy masticating.

This morning, while floating through the internet, I stumbled upon this link on the Huffington Post: Celebrities Chow Down: Stars Eating. A slide show of stars, munching? I was there!

Unfortunately, the text that accompanied the pictures was typical judgemental bullshit.

Although we never thought we’d say this, Jennifer Lopez, Keanu Reeves and Angelina Jolie could learn a think or two from Miley Cyrus.

Cyrus’s boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth, recently told Who magazine that Miley’s sexiest when she’s chowing down on a steak sandwich: “There is this place in Nashville called Steak and Shake, which is pretty much the best fast food, ever. That is our secret, sexy place to. When I look over at [Miley] when she’s biting into a steak sandwich and there is some steak sauce dripping down her chin, there is nothing sexier than that.”

Cyrus may be able to put on a sexy fast food face but these celebs certainly can not. Check out stars, from Mike Tyson to Kate Hudson, chowing down — and forgetting a little thing called manners in the process.

First of all, are we not all at the point where we realize that Liam Hemsworth would sell photos of Miley Cyrus on the crapper, if it were to get his name in a publication?

But, more importantly, click through that gallery. Is there not something inherently beautiful about each and every person pictured (Britney Spears is pictured twice, because, obviously)? For Holyfield’s sake, I felt kind feelings toward Mike Tyson! Keanu Reeves and Ben Affleck look positively boyish as they gobble up goodies; Danny Devito, Tom Arnold, and Alec Baldwin are absolutely delightful as they nosh (seriously, have you ever seen a better picture of Devito than that one with the sandwich?); and Angelina Jolie, Kristin Davis, and, yes, Britney, are unguarded, looking more relaxed than I’ve ever seen them. And human. Just human.

Next time you are lunching, look around. Take time to appreciate the tenderness of your fellow diners. Really see them, and how we are all connected by this very basic thing. You just might find elegance in the man with the McRib or the woman with the PB&J.

Oh, and if you find yourself at a party balancing a plate while making small talk, or in a restaurant having a bite, and you suddenly feel like you’re being watched, pay no attention to the girl whose gaze lingers a little too long on your mouth as you chew. That’s just me, falling in love a little.

Photo by: stevendepolo

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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