A few years ago I was invited to a rather glitzy awards evening held in one of Sydney’s most exclusive locations.
When the invitation arrived and it included a spot for a guest, I decided to ditch my boyfriend for the evening and invite a girl friend who would truly appreciate the glammed up frocks and celebrity-spotting.
When we arrived on the red carpet, we weren’t disappointed. As celebrities posed before waiting paparazzi, my friend and I ducked our very-non-celebrity-like-selves inside, and took up a spot which afforded the best vantage-point.
Things were going well right up until the dinner began. As we found our seats, I scanned the table and realised we were seated alongside a number of very high-profile women. Score! I thought to myself. One woman in particular was a fitness blogger and personal trainer.
But what followed was genuinely shocking. Over the next hour this woman scrutinized each person’s plate, offering a manic (and completely unsolicited) running-commentary on the calorie-count of the food as we ate it – starting with our dinner rolls. “Well, I guess that carb is going to be a special treat!” she exclaimed, as some of us reached for the small bread roll.
During the entrées and main meal the food-phobia only continued, as the personal trainer leaned across the table to scrutinize the food on other women’s plates, offering her opinions as she went. She commented on everything from the suitability of the portion size to the likely content of oils and kilojoules. The other women at the table looked horrified. And when the personal trainer discovered that the only woman skinnier than her was a dancer of some kind, she commenced a bizarre series of questions and suppositions about this woman’s diet and exercise regime.
From the moment the personal trainer had started speaking, her conversation around food was compulsive, incessant, and deeply food-phobic. Having since read interviews with her, I’ve observed very similar themes; obsessive thoughts about food and fitness, the black-listing of entire food types, a strict adherence to calorie control.
Meanwhile, back at the dinner table my friend had become so aghast at how inappropriate this woman’s behaviour was, that she whispered to me that she was ready to walk out of there. We went to the bathroom to conference it out. Both of us agreed that given how badly the main meal had gone, a dessert with this woman would be utterly unbearable and we were probably better off just leaving before the night got any more tedious.
So having spent weeks looking forward to this event, and having bought a new dress especially for the occasion, I turned around and walked out of there.
Outside my friend told me that she had never experienced anything quite like it. At first I agreed. And then I realised that actually, I had experienced something similar. In fact I’d experienced something identical to this years earlier.