There has been a version of this post in my head for a long time. A recent comment from a reader (along with reading some fellow bloggers’ reflections about Vida Vegan Con) inspired me to take this on sooner than later. I want to talk about how this blog may have lost sight of it’s original intent. More accurately, how I lost site of the original intent of the blog.
Before Rebel Grrrl Kitchen there was Rebel Grrrl Academy. Rebel Grrrl Academy was a blog I created to share my critical, academic reflections in a forum that was less restricted than academic journals (a medium with access dependent upon either membership to a university library database, or a shit ton of money). Of course, that’s not to say that I thought the world was in desperate need of access to my thoughts—-(which, I assure you, are no more brilliant than a gazillion other critically-minded scholars, activists, and scholar/activists out there)—-but I was grateful to have a public outlet to keep me writing about things that I thought mattered, even if they weren’t related to an assignment for school or my dissertation.
During my second year of PhD coursework I stumbled into the world of cleansing and “clean eating.” Having been a vegan since the age of 18 and having battled eating disorders and body image issues since the age of 11, I was no stranger to the world of diets and food-talk, but something about this “healthy living world” felt new and exciting. I did my first real cleanse in 2010 and was completely hooked. However, in the early stages, I was hyper-aware of how this lifestyle conflicted with some of my fundamental beliefs. As a feminist, I suspected that this cleanse world was used by some as a way to perpetuate disordered eating habits under the guise of “health.” As a person who is devoted to eradicating class and racial injustice, I noticed the ways in which this world was built for people who were in positions of privilege (and was not surprised to see mostly white faces on the books, blogs, and videos with which I was engaging). I originally wrote this post on Rebel Grrrrl Academy to discuss the complicated path to navigating the practice of self-care with the practice of resisting oppressive systems. It was this post that inspired me to start The Rebel Grrrl Kitchen. I wanted to write about living a health-centric vegan lifestyle as a feminist, queer, anti-racist, anti-capitalist 20-something.
But it wasn’t long before that message got lost. The more I read blogs, the more diets I discovered that promised even cleaner and more detoxified results. My list of “Will Not Eat” expanded—not only was I a vegan, but I was now adamantly gluten-avoidant, soy-free, refined sugar-free, and would flirt with bouts of being both grain and bean free. Some of you may remember that for a while I was 80/10/10-ing, and eating only fruits and vegetables with little to no fat in my day at all. (I’m not bashing that diet, I’m simply saying I was doing it for the wrong reasons).
I wanted to make myself accessible to a wider audience so I stifled my politics and became further entrenched in promoting what some people would come to identify as “orthorexic” behavior. I felt embarrassed to post “What I Ate Wednesdays” if I didn’t eat perfectly (whatever that means), and I became nervous every time I posted a picture of myself for fear that people would judge my body for not being thin enough to be a legit “healthy” living blogger.
Although I continued to sprinkle some political sentiments here and there (and continued to have these politics in my academic work and, for the most part, in my everyday life (at least when it came to other people)), I could feel myself reading and writing more about upholding this “clean eating world” than resisting the oppressive aspects of it.
I’m admitting this first to apologize to anyone I may have triggered or negatively influenced by writing about “bad” food choices or food-induced guilt. And I’m admitting this to hold myself accountable to stay true to my politics and to practice resistance rather than assimilation to racist, body-shaming, classist practices. And to remind all of us that veganism is, first and foremost, about compassion to animals. I am re-committing myself to put the “rebel” back in The Rebel Grrrl Kitchen. And to remember that my tagline is to “reclaim healthy living,” not add to the status quo.
This doesn’t mean the blog will be radically different. I’ll still post recipes, I’ll still track my workouts, etc. I don’t think healthy practices—-things that legit make me feel good for reasons that are not attached to my history with eating disorders, etc.—-are mutually exclusive from a political approach to self-care. But if you’re offended by overtly left politics and feminist critiques of the racist, classist, fat-shaming “healthy living world,” then my blog may not be for you. Just a heads up.
I hope you’ll still join me. Because in addition to being all about fighting the power, I’m also still also all about cute things, and epic jams, and green juice. Rest assured, “If I can’t watch cute animal videos, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.“
So….are you with me?