Learning to love… (I promise this is not some emo crap!)

Onions.

I have never liked onions. I would pick them out of food. If a recipe called for them, I used the bare minimum, and I made sure they were cooked through. And even then, I wouldn’t really eat them.

Lately though, I find myself adding them to various dishes. I remember being surprised to enjoy how red onions tasted after they’d been sitting in apple cider vinegar, in some German sausage and potato dish. My baked chicken recipe requires white wine vinegar, lemon and olive oil. I lay down some onion rings under the chicken, so it really soaks up all the marinade.

My brother loves onions, so I’ve taken to making caramelized onions for him from time to time. One night, I think we were having tacos or sausages for dinner, and I could not believe how good the caramelized onions tasted.

Just this morning, I made a roasted vegetable salad for lunch. I roasted eggplant and tomatoes in the oven, and I drizzled everything with olive oil and red wine vinegar. I felt like it was missing something, so I chopped an onion into rings, drizzled it in red wine vinegar, and popped it in the oven for five minutes. It was lovely.

It’s funny, the things you think you can’t stand. Sometimes it’s habit. Sometimes it’s just something you need to try another way. Sometimes it’s something you need to unlearn–like internalized misogyny.

I used to hate pink. I hated floral patterns. I hated girls who were all girly. I felt that the soft, girly femininity expected of women was infuriating, weak, stereotypical. I used to pride myself on not being girly, and I found it hard to make friends with other girls.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. I realize now that this misogyny may have come from my two years in a Catholic girls school.

At my school there were pretty girly girls, and unfortunately many of them were also petty and unfriendly to this girl who had just arrived from the Middle East. Many of them were conventionally pretty–mestiza, slender, with long straight hair. Of course, I was none of these things. I remember some of them making fun of me for my large breasts. At the time, there was a local film called “From Saudi With Love,” and I remember somebody teasing me about it.

And then there were all the ads with all the girly girls, and the girls in these ads always wore pink and always had long flowing hair. And there were so many ads promoting fairer skin.

All of these things were not me, and I didn’t want to be any of these things, and I suppose I didn’t have the language back then to figure out what I really felt. So I just ended up hating pink and floral patterns and girly girls.

It was only in perhaps the past five years that I learned about internalized misogyny, and I realized my hatred of stereotypically feminine things was actually that.

Of course now I have two very bright pink sports bras, pink towels and pink sports tops. I love tropical floral patterns, with bright reds and vivid greens and splashes of blue. And I suppose my fondness for makeup makes me a girly girl.

It’s always interesting to look at the things–or people, or places–you dislike, and to think about why that is. It’s always a challenge to question your biases, to dismantle your preconceived notions, and to acknowledge different perspectives. Of course, it’s great if you can discuss these things with other people, without judgment, but that might be asking for a bit much. (Looks at all the fascist, sexist, racist people in the world.)

But anyway. Onions!

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