One Woman Speaks Out About…. Eating Alone. My Voice Will Be Heard.

Thank you to the most brilliant Simon of Sweet and Weak for contacting me with news regarding a real tragedy befalling this nation….Women Eating Alone (W.E.A. pronounced “Weaaa”). As some of you may know from reading this blog, I am one of the millions of women who silently suffers while Eating Alone. I have many horrible, awkward and horribly awkward memories of being left alone to eat. Decades ago, I was in Paris with time to kill before catching a train. I walked along the Seine singing “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” to myself (not kidding) and then found a little cafe to have my dejeuner.  I hadn’t been sitting alone for long, when the owner of the cafe found me another American to sit with because it was too sad to see me sitting alone at my Table for Two, just me and my croque monsieur.

This is not me but it easily could be if help doesn’t arrive soon.

Back to this morning and the eye-opening email from Simon. I truly didn’t realize that mine was not isolated suffering, but shared by millions of women just like me. Women just like me who can’t take the pressure of sitting alone in public eating a meal, let alone sitting in a bar having a drink — knowing everyone is staring and whispering, “I think she’s a hooker.”

She could be getting a ride to a restaurant, or she’s just talking to the Secret Service.

In the article Simon sent to me, the author notes “Many even resort to ordering room service on trips”. And she is so right. Years ago, before I had children, I traveled frequently for my job, which was in corporate communications/public relations not prostitution. Time and time again, I would find myself just flipping through the three ring binder usually found on the desk in a hotel room. Initially, I’d try to fool myself into thinking, “I just need to know what time check out is” or “what are the fitness room hours?” But in the end, I’d always wind up on the Room Service Menu page. That’s right, try as I might, I couldn’t do it. I don’t care if I was in New York or San Francisco or Tucson…I was NOT leaving that hotel room to go subject myself to Eating Alone.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, you may be a Woman Eating Alone. Do not despair, there is help available. Simon’s email included a link to this article. The author does a good job providing background and history on the W.E.A. crisis and highlights the efforts of one woman, Cressida Howard, and how she is fighting back against W.E.A (pronounced Weaaa). Ms. Howard has started a website providing support and tools for women combating W.E.A.

My sisters, please do not remain in the shadows of restaurants…come to the table and tell your story.

Together we will stamp out the scourge that is Women. Eating. Alone.

Thank you.

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37 thoughts on “One Woman Speaks Out About…. Eating Alone. My Voice Will Be Heard.

  1. Conor Bofin says:

    I can’t do anything about not being a woman (not anything I plan on anyway). Eating alone is not a bunch of fun for men either. Funny that Men Eating Alone would be pronounced ME.
    Best,
    Conor

  2. Maggie O'C says:

    I hear you. Perhaps you could start a men’s chapter of W.E.A. We could make ribbons and everything!

    Thanks for reading! You are a much heralded blogger, I’m glad you found me 🙂

  3. finola says:

    Interesting take on this… I wrote about eating alone whilst travelling and how sometimes its not such a bad thing… but I usually do prefer eating with others and making it more of a social experiencea. And your point on ordering room service, I totally understand that there are moments when it´s preferable to sitting alone in a restaurant again. http://travelola.org/2011/10/27/what%E2%80%99s-the-problem-with-dining-alone/

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does the shame of this rule apply to all things adults may do alone? My guess is that the French would also be quite accommodating in finding you a ‘mate’ if they felt sad that you were forced to go it alone.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      It is not a rule, it is a Cause! A call to Action! There is no time for innuendo here, there is trouble looming at cafes, bistros and eateries around the nation and around the world!

  5. When I was traveling for business, I would eat alone. Usually I would “pretend” I was meeting someone, and then make excuses to the server as to why they were not “on time.” What I needed to do was just walk in and say, “Party of one,” but I was a chicken. Amazing, I could travel across the country, deal with engineers and not be honest when I was having dinner. Silly, really.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      It’s not silly! It’s real and you are NOT alone! There are women out there right now pretending to talk on the phone or pretending to care what’s on the wine list and they need our support!

  6. I go out to restaurants etc and eat alone often, never felt awkward, I enjoy it, the only advice I’d give is always havea book with you, other than that there is nothing wrong with it at all.

    • acflory says:

      I agree! Eating alone can be a lot of fun. A few years back I travelled to Cairns alone [far north Queensland, Australia] and discovered a great little restaurant with wonderful food. I went there 3 nights in a row and by the third night the maitre d’ and serving staff were treating me like a favoured regular. I must admit though that I always had a book with me.

      These days I take my kindle which is turning out to be a better ice-breaker than a cute puppy on a leash. I’ve now had so many people coming up to me and asking about it that I’m almost tempted to hide it inside a real bookcover so I can eat my food before it gets cold!

      Women Eating Alone are strong, confident, movers and shakers in the gastronomic world and we should stand tall and proud. After all, doesn’t it say something that we can go to a really good restaurant, order whatever we like AND pay for it ourselves?

      Forget the vote. Eating Alone is what true emancipation is all about. Vive WEA!

  7. Although yesterday I said you should never “Blog about Food” I completely take it back! This is great!

  8. Simon says:

    Maggie, this is hilarious. I love your style and sarcasm. I would be happy to wear a ribbon and run a 5k, this issue needs to be brought to light. Thanks for the shout out, and bravo.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      I’ve got to figure out ribbon colors and creating a Facebook page to really draw attention to the Cause. Thank you, Simon, for your insight and support.

  9. La La says:

    Haha, I have never eaten alone at a restaurant. It is a big fear of mine, along with going to the movies alone. I feel ya, sister!

  10. Like Cher said, sooner or later we all eat along. Unless that was Chef. Do you believe in dessert after lunch?

  11. The Hobbler says:

    Just so you know. If I see a woman eating alone, I might be a tad jealous, and I definitely don’t think that just because someone eats alone that there is anything wrong with it. I really don’t know why people don’t just mind their own business.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Thanks Annette! What a lovely way to start my weekend!

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Do I have to do anything for this?? Are there rules? Can I just put on my page?

      • Dear Maggie,
        I’m sure there are some sort of rules applied to this award. But honestly, this world is full of rules, let’s just pretend to be free spirits. I did share the sunshine in a rather reckless and rebellious way, giving it to anyone who’d like to have a bit of sunshine. Everybody deserves sunshine. By the way… it’s a “chain letter” award. Chain letters were invented to spread and enrich the world with magnificent speed.
        If you like rules, just invent some and pass the sunshine on. Have a lovely weekend Maggie.

  12. Hi Maggie, I just found you today and I’m glad I did!

    I *have* eaten alone but it’s not fun. I usually feel like i should be wearing a sandwich board that says “No, I did NOT get stood up, and no, I am NOT looking for a good time.”

    Thank you for mobilizing for the WEA cause!

  13. Addie says:

    When I go out (okay, let us be honest–I don’t), I take a table and sit with my back to the door. That way, I can pretend I’m talking to someone and no one can see me with an animated face, talking soundlessly to thin air.

    Btw, on this: “…..corporate communications/public relations not prostitution.”–been there, done that, and, it is indeed prostitution, as you stand up giving public relations speeches, basically begging them to take your POV as the one to follow blind.

    PS I added you to my blogroll–hope that is okay. Your blog is très amusant. (two years of French, and that’s about all I got).

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Happily I didn’t have to do that sort of PR…just press releases, project management. I don’t think I could do it b/c I’d probably wind up saying, “I know this is all bullshit and I’m a loser for even saying this crap! ” hahaha
      You are going on my blog roll too!

  14. sweetmother says:

    you know, coming from new york city, there were two things i often did alone and those were – eating alone in restaurants and going to the movies alone. for some reason in new york, these policies are not only common they’re expected. but, i would also say, ‘bring a book’. that’s great advice from the commenter who left it above. momma loves you. xo, sm

    • Maggie O'C says:

      I love to go to movies by myself. Probably because it’s dark and I can hide from prying eyes. It’s tough going through life with everyone focused on me. I saw Lost in Translation alone and sat next to a young couple on a date and I got hysterical probably b/c my marriage was such a mess at the time. I think I really made their night for them, not uncomfortable at all. They were lucky to have me.
      xoxo

  15. […] the movies alone. That dining part is just crazy talk and I won’t have it. Please read here and here for more information on my one-woman crusade against dining […]

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