How “Gilmore Girls” affected my relationship with food
I love Gilmore Girls. I love love it. But a decade later, I have to admit that, in some ways, the show screwed up my relationship with food.
These are the universally acknowledged Gilmore truths: Rory is smart. Lorelai is snarky. They love candy. They love Chinese food. They love pizza. They’re always ordering burgers at Luke’s Diner. They hate working out and never do it. They drink gallons of coffee. There is no such thing as too much caffeine.
Rory and Lorelai’s epic metabolisms are mentioned in the show… but not half as often as their thinness and appetites are discussed.
This show was instrumental in bolstering my relationship with my mother through my teen years. I was 12-years-old when the first season aired, heading straight for the tornado of hormones that makes teen girls turn to their mothers and say, “You don’t understand me!”
I was already a little middle school Machiavelli (not proud of it), and my mom and I were well-acquainted with mother-daughter strife. Gilmore Girls was a bond that we shared. She was so Lorelai. I was so Rory. We were both completely right, and completely wrong. Regardless, we made time to sit down every Tuesday and watch the show together.
In a nod to our familial fandom, we called these nights “Gilmore Girls and Chinese Tuesdays. When most people order Chinese food, they order to have leftovers. When we ordered Chinese food, we ordered to be Gilmores — which is to say that we ordered with an embarrassing level of excess.
My mother, who had the privilege of being an adult and understanding that these expectations of food were highly unreasonable, would occasionally pull a real Richard (Gilmore) and say, “That’s way too much food for two people.” In response, I went into full Lorelai mode, replete with righteous indignation about my food habits. In the end we usually ordered two-to-three entrees per person, plus pot stickers, a large order of chicken fried rice, and egg rolls. Suffice it to say that as the show continued, my waistband grew.
Body image is a difficult world for any young girl to navigate. We are given so many mixed messages about who we should be, what we should look like, what we should or should not eat.
If you’re confused by what I mean, watch one episode of Gilmore Girls. It’s a microcosm for every message we are ever given. It has feminist ideology: Eat what you want. Don’t freak out about maintaining fitness ideals (Rory is terrible at group sports!).
But it is part of the media, so it still has patriarchal overlays: Stay thin, be beautiful, and above all else, don’t appear to try. That last part stayed with me so hard.
The Golden Rule of my life was to seem effortless at all times. Once I stopped playing volleyball sophomore year of high school, the mirage of a “great metabolism” disappeared. I gained weight, and I was embarrassed. How very un-Gilmore — that’s the Emily in me.
I was at such an impressionable age when Gilmore Girls came out that it defined my aspirations.
I wanted to be smart and go to a good school like Rory (I studied and went to the hardest high school in the area to get into). I wanted to have a boyfriend (I tried… and tried. No dice). I wanted to be effortlessly thin and shovel pizza into my face. I shoveled the pizza, and it took me years to figure out why I wasn’t maintaining that Gilmore thigh gap.
It’s because the way they gorge on that show is not real life.
The ramifications stick with me to this day. Even when I want to be healthy or lose weight, I try to hide both. Over the summer, I had reached a truly Gilmore habit of delivery food. My roommate and I both work from home, so we were ordering on the daily — twice daily to be exact. We decided that we needed to cut it out. My roommate suffers from Fibromyalgia, so the way that we were eating was affecting her pain. She started to follow the Candida Diet (no sugar, no dairy, high protein, like Paleo, but not), and I did it with her.
Let’s be clear, I did this one hundred percent to lose weight. What I told people was that I had stopped eating sugar “in solidarity with my roommate.” This was a lie that I told to maintain an image of myself that never existed. To be honest, as I write this article, I have in front of me a monstrous pile of meat and chili, dubbed “The Slayer Burger” that I ordered as delivery food.
So, please remember, I absolutely love Gilmore Girls.
But for me personally, it actually reinforced unrealistic expectations and encouraged unhealthy behaviors. But in the nine years since the Gilmore finale, I’d like to think we’ve become a little more food conscious as a country (looking at you Paleo and Whole 30!). I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, this cultural shift has rubbed off on the Gilmores, too.
Either way, I’ll be tuning into the revival to see my favorite gals gabbing at the speed of light as they take on the world… or at least Stars Hollow.