The Secret Life of Eating at Brown is about to become not so secret

This Saturday 4/5 and Sunday 4/6, Brown students will both literally and metaphorically speak the words of truth written by their peers in this moving play, “The Secret Life of Eating at Brown.” Compiled by Phoebe Nir ’14, the play takes strides against disordered eating, a subject commonly experienced by college students everywhere, but highly stigmatized and left unheard in a zone of social discomfort. Phoebe let the secret out with us by answering a few questions about TSLoEaB, her personal attachment to disordered eating, and why it’s extremely important to eradicate the subject’s taboo.

BlogDH: Can you give us a little bit of info about what The Secret Life of Eating at Brown will entail?
Phoebe: TSLoEaB is a collection of Brown students’ anonymously submitted essays on the subjects of food, body image, and disordered eating. The idea was to debunk the myth of the eating disorder as this very specific and obvious thing that only happens to, I don’t know, teenaged white female gymnasts in Scarsdale. We live in this weird world where food is so freakishly abundant, and our bodies are under a lot of peculiar pressures, regardless of gender or socio-economic background; we’re all fighting in the same ring. The monologues we will be sharing come from a variety of different perspectives, and there’s going to be a completely different cast for every reading. I’m actually going to be meeting some of the actors for the first time at the show, because I wanted to involve as many people as possible, and have a minimal barrier to participation.

BlogDH: I read the article you wrote for Post- about your personal connection to the subject of disordered eating, but for those that didn’t, can you speak about what inspired you to create the performance?
Phoebe: I felt like the level of sophistication and understanding our society has about disordered eating is totally inadequate compared with how many people are struggling. I’ve struggled a lot during my time at Brown, and I think part of the issue was that I felt very alone and ashamed by what is really a fairly common experience. I wanted to make this show in the hopes that we could all shed some light on what’s going on beneath a lot of people’s high-functioning surfaces. Removing the stigma could go a long way to helping some people heal. If one person in the audience feels validated and embraced by what they see, I’ll feel like the project was a success.

BlogDH: Do you think that disordered eating is a widespread issue at Brown? If so, do you feel like it’s been properly addressed?
Phoebe: I think disordered eating is widely prevalent on this campus, and it manifests in a lot of weird and insidious forms. I don’t want to discount the experience of somebody who has found a lot of support through the channels available on campus, but I’ve always felt pretty underwhelmed. People put up all those posters of slightly curvy girls doing cartwheels and things, and I think the body positivity message is great, but what if you’re a black guy at risk for diabetes, or an athlete who feels like you’re losing control over your body, or someone who grew up in extreme food scarcity and has to compensate for that anxiety—are you going to find that poster inclusive of your experience? Is seeing that going to encourage you to confide in somebody that you’re struggling, or is it going to make you think that you’re a freak?

And even if you are that gymnast from Scarsdale, that message of body positivity can feel as judgmental as looking through a swimsuit catalogue. That’s the paradox—we’re all supposed to be effortlessly comfortable in our own skin, at the same time as looking flawless.

It almost goes without saying that it’s totally normal for a woman to be very concerned about gaining weight. It’s such a cliché to see the group of girls eat a bunch of cupcakes and then complain about how fat they’re going to get, but I think it kind of happens in real life. But then what if, instead of laughing it off and moving on, one of these girls lingers on the thought, and then starts spending a lot of time thinking about it, and begins to behave very neurotically? That’s almost the most normal response, given the environment we exist in.

BlogDH: What was the process of putting the play together like? How did the movement to start collecting anecdotes and stories begin?
Phoebe: It’s kind of funny to think about now, but this whole thing started because at the beginning of this semester I was on crutches and couldn’t be involved in anybody else’s play. It all happened in a matter of weeks; I just made a survey online and tried as hard as I could to get people to fill it out. The responses were really great and interesting, so it was easy to stitch it together into a short play.

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Sans Meal Plan: Garbage Cookie, Meet Garbage Soup

One of the beautiful things about soup, besides the warm fuzzy feeling you get in your stomach while eating it, is the fact that it can be made from literally anything.  Not into beef? Throw in some chicken.  Sworn off animal products? First of all, I’m sorry.  But more importantly, don’t sweat it!  You can create all kinds of soup-tastic creations without any dairy or meat.  I like to think of soup as the great amalgamation between almost-forgotten vegetables, things in your pantry you bought because you thought you’d use them eventually and every spice in your cabinet.

Knowing I had a full week ahead of me consisting of paper-writing, book-reading, and other college-y things that don’t involve being social in any way, I decided to celebrate the coming Autumn with a weird farmers market concoction to commemorate this year’s fall harvest.  That, or I just bought a bunch of shit that I didn’t know what do with so I decided to make one master bowl of soup-y goodness so as not to waste money.  Hey—if Meeting Street can make a cookie of doughy leftovers that rocks the socks off of life, I don’t see why my fall bounty soup couldn’t do the same thing.  And, if I could use this experiment as a way to go crazy and make up a catchphrase that would make Emeril proud every time I plopped something else random in my pot, I say onward, ho! Continue Reading

When environmental consciousness leads to obesity, kind of

Courtesy of Chattahbox

Don’t get us wrong; we relish saving the environment as much as the next college blog, but ever since Brown discontinued the sale plastic water bottles, other (more trivial) issues have surfaced.

According to the Providence Journal, Brown is the first Ivy League school to purge itself of the environmentally-offensive plastic water bottles. (And that is pretty tremendous. Of course Brown had to be first. That’s who we are.)

“While plastic water bottles are often more practical, Brown has been really good about distributing reusable ones,” freshman David Jacobs commented while sipping from his aluminum canteen.

Based 100% on anecdotal and flimsy evidence, however, some Brown students seem slightly insulted by the dearth of expendable, portable potables.   Continue Reading

Time-waster of the day: May 5, 2010

Exams and papers got you down? What better way to cheer up than with adorable animals?!

Here is a compilation of some of the internet’s most adorable animal moments. You’ve probably already seen them all, but it can’t hurt to relive the cute all over again.

Animal surprise is always cute, so we bring you kittens and pandas!

If eating is your game, baby animals do a ton of that too. Two ebony and ivory teeny bunnies get their snack on, while this hamster devours broccoli.

If incredible laziness is more your bag, here is pathetic panda!

Or if you simply want some honest-to-goodness ridiculous cuteness, check out a compilation video of Knut the polar bear‘s best moments (and ignore the horribly cheesy editing).

Play us out, keyboard cat.

SPEC Carnival partially scrapped

Due to the insanely bizarre freak thunderstorm that just happened (you may have noticed the thunder, lightning, pouding rain and hail), SPEC has sent out this message via Facebook regarding its Carnival, which was due to be on the Main Green at 5.

Hey everyone. We just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all of your support these past few days. Due to rain, rides and carnival games cannot be set up outside. Fortunately, we still have PLENTY of food!


See you then!


P.S. Stay tuned for Carnival Part 2!

Terribly disappointing news for all those who hoped to partake in some inebriated inflatable obstacle course races. Of course they’ll still have food in the Blue Room. And not sure what that Carnival Part 2 thing means. Maybe we’ll have another day of inflated fun on the Green?

Anyway, thanks, Rhode Island weather.

The Return of Honey Bunches of Oats!

That’s right, the Ratty really does love us!

We know there was considerable outcry when Honey Bunches of Oats disappeared from the Refectory’s cereal lineup, but in case you haven’t been in the dining hall recently as a sort of protest (or maybe you just don’t pay that much attention to detail), everyone’s favorite cereal has reappeared! It even gets its own official sign — hopefully this means it will be returning as a regular staple, yes?

So go on, take two bowls and fill ’em up — we can’t say we blame you. Just save some for the rest of us, too!