Today I spoke to a dear compañera of mine, Ramona, who recently began a series of after school workshops promoting health to mostly Latina/Xicana mothers at a high school on the East-side. She shared with me that in her first workshop she discussed the direct relationships between the over consumption of fast foods, meats and dairy products to obesity and diabetes (among other colonial diseases) that these mothers’ and their hij@s suffer from. The workshop quickly turned into an open critical-reflective dialogue amongst her and the madres. While the conversation is still fresh in mind, I thought to pass on these brief testimonios, as i recall them, with the intent to learn from these wombyn's comidas:
A mother shared that her obese daughter blamed her colonial disease on her mother. La hija de esta mujer recognized the power her mother holds in the kitchen is directly related to the power she holds over her own physical/health condition as the family nurturer. The mother was empowered by her hijas critical observation and began to re-introduce ancestral food ways (less meat/processed foods and more plant based foods). To her surprise su hija began to release significant weight and reveal bodily curves. ¡Ah chingao!” dijo la mamá. ¡Mija tiene curvas y se mira “sexy”! Prefiero que se vuelve a engordar para evitar “problemas.”
This mom’s testimony is similar except she did not fearing her daughters new “problematic” sexuality. Instead this mom was saddened by her son’s new slender look after making strict changes to his food ways. This mother also preferred to see her son fat y no flaquito. A colonial comfort zone had been disrupted.
These testimonies reflect a critical process of reclaiming the kitchen place as a space of oppositional health consciousness raising and liberation of the brown body. Yet despite these mothers’ re-membering of ancestral plant-based food ways that created a method of decolonization, other forms of internalized oppression surfaced. What is going on here? Pura contradicciones! Abstinence y “gorditos” over sexual/physical/nutritional health? Does being flaquito challenge a certain masculinity? I need to understand this better. I know these mothers do not desire for the children to die young or never engage in intimate relationships. but where does there discomfort towards their children’s new healing bodies come from? Is it reflective of the interlocking web spun by culinary imperialism and a hyper-sexualized pop culture that continuously attempts to acculturate our gente into its modernized-capitalist-patriarchal society called the “American Dream?” Clearly there are many ways our gente resist this pesadilla (nightmare). Marginalizing the modern/colonial food system like these mothers have done is one of them. Clearly our palabra of healing Aztlan, the Brown Female Body, through food needs to include promoting real images of beauty and health that do not compromise the physical, spiritual or health condition of our bodies. This hombre “flaco” has never felt better about the health and physical appearance of my body since re-membering our ancestral plant-based food ways...Approaching three years of la otra comida next month!