On Tuesday, the professor of my International Marketing class gave a lecture introducing the class then showed us a series of pictures from one of the most controversial advertising campaigns the world has ever seen. United Colors of Benetton, which is a European based clothing company, bravely did a campaign full of pictures that highlighted racism, sexuality and body image among other things. Never before had a company taken a risk that huge in the marketing world. One of the photos my teacher showed us was the photo I have included below. While surrounded by body image issues everywhere I turn, it made me think about the eating habits in Italy as compared to that of Americans.
As I mentioned in past posts, everywhere you turn there are Italian women in outstanding fashion, exemplifying class and confidence as they stroll through the streets without a care in the world. One of the main things I notice about these women is that none of them are obese and none are stick thin. Somehow these women seem to have mastered the art of balance in accordance with their weight. In America, it is normal to see an extremely obese person strolling behind a young woman who looks like she needs a burger… Or 5. In Italy, that is simply not the case.
Whether it’s the amount of walking they do or the flights of stairs they climb to their apartment (it’s actually a wee bit overkill), these women exemplify what I believe the perfect woman should look like. Unlike America, the gyms here are small and empty, normally only full of American students. There is no craze to stay in the gym for hours on end followed by a trip to the local organic store for a mysterious green smoothie. These Italian women walk or bike to their destinations and they start their day with a croissant and coffee then end with a plate of pasta and cheese (did I just use three carbs in one sentence?!). Americans seems so incredibly black or white in their habits as compared to the Italian culture who have acquired a sound equilibrium. Maybe their love for a more conservative life at a slower pace is what we Americans should be aiming for in order to create a better balance in our society. Maybe we should be using our time to build healthy relationships instead of creating unhealthy habits, finding others opinions of ourselves more important than our own.
Speaking of balance, how off kilter would I be if I declined a visit to a chocolate festival that’s only 10 minutes from my apartment?? After hearing everyone in every class talk about the chocolate festival by the train station, my roommate and I set out to find out what all the fuss was about. Sure enough there were tents upon tents full of chocolate. If you know me well, you know that I was drooling… Quite literally. My mom can attest to the anxious, “OMG I want everything” attitude I get when surrounded by good food/desserts. You can bet your bottom dollar that same emotion was present when I stepped into those tents on Tuesday! Chocolate fountains, chocolate truffles, chocolate croissants, chocolate crepes… Oh happy day! Remembering my wise words from above, my roommate and I split a flakey dark chocolate croissant and I only had one dark chocolate tartufo (those free samples they hand out don’t really count as calories). It was a wonderful day in my book as I walked away with a happy heart and maybe a little bit of chocolate still left on my lips.
Although taking the overindulgent, off-balance approach to food when I first arrived here in Italy, I am slowly learning the Italian way of eating is much more enjoyable. Taking your time and as my favorite movie (Eat, Pray, Love) says “having a relationship with your food”, is the best way to enjoy what I consider to be one of the greatest pleasures in life. Acquiring balance with anything you do in life is important and I cannot wait to continue learning from the fabulous Italian women who know what they want and don’t feel guilty about getting exactly that.
Until next time, Happy Valentine’s Day! I will be spending mine in the City of Love, Verona! My roommate and I plan on visiting Juliet’s house and spending the weekend falling in love with the new life we are living here in Italia.