Like many women who can afford one, I’ve had an issue with eating since I was a kid. In the past, I used food as a weapon against my mum. She made some choices in life that I didn’t understand, so I protested them through food. We were raised vegetarians, and I hated vegetables. I was always the last one sat at the table, pushing sprouts around the plate, after having covertly yet forcefully given most of it to my siblings.
This was all during the 80s, when famine was rife in Ethiopia, and my mum was a fervent political activist. She would say to me, “Layla, think of the starving kids in Africa.” To be fair, at the time, saying stuff like that meant nothing to me. I’d spent time in Africa as a young child, hence my name, but I couldn’t relate to not having food. I couldn’t understand the meaning behind starving. Growing up in rural Dorset, I also didn’t know many Africans either.