Cape Cod, where I grew up, is practically the ice cream capitol of the world, and my mother took full advantage of her adopted home. Unlike many women, my mother had an uncomplicated relationship with ice cream. She loved it and she ate it often, sometimes as a meal. She never missed an opportunity for soft serve, always chocolate-vanilla swirl. Her favorite summer lunch was a mud pie cone from the Whistle Stop in Monument Beach. That's what growing up on a farm in Kansas will do for you: Food is for growing, cooking and eating, not for worrying about.
The very idea that any woman would feel guilty about food was weird to her. Of course, it was easy for her to say, since she naturally hovered around 100 pounds. She looked at me like I might be adopted when I started hating my inner thighs—she claimed that, as a scrawny teenager, she would have given anything for her thighs to touch at the top. (She was probably the first woman in history to actually wish this.) She found any talk of dieting or aging boring and maybe even morally suspect. As woman after woman wailed about turning 40 or 50, she would quietly ask, "What’s the alternative?"