Eating food isn’t quirky
Public figures who poke fun at themselves for eating are actively creating a dichotomy between themselves and so-described “normal women”
by Una Dabiero
OK, pretend it’s 2010 for a second.
Jennifer Lawrence was new to the awards scene, and won the hearts of America with her pizza humor. Stop and think about it — we all loved Jennifer Lawrence not for her admittedly amazing acting abilities and already-prolific career. We stanned because she loved to talk about eating.
Female celebrities eating food and enjoying it shouldn’t be a defining trait. Everyone eats food, and (most of us) enjoy it. Suggesting eating is quirky or interesting is harmful to all women, celebrities or not.
Traditionally, society has put extraneous pressure on women to have a “perfect” physical appearance. This definition of perfect usually includes being slim and svelte, with curves only in the right places and only to a certain extent. This pressure to be thin pushes many women go to extreme measures to ensure they fit the “skinny ideal.”
Under this patriarchal image of acceptable, women don’t eat “too much,” if they even eat in public at all. If they do eat ‘too much’, they eat food typically ‘appreciated by men’ — like hot dogs or burgers — and they definitely don’t exist in any form but “slim.”
Public figures who poke fun at themselves for eating are actively creating a dichotomy between themselves and so-described “normal” women who don’t publicly eat. But this isn’t a dichotomy that actually exists, and reinforcing it is harmful.
i tried to subtly crash a prom pic.twitter.com/CGQjthB3Ah
— Elle Mills (@millselle) June 16, 2017
All women eat food. There isn’t a class of women who eat because they’re cool and a class of women who don’t eat because they’re too stuffy about what society thinks of them. By telling the world that they’re different, quirky, or fun for eating food, comedians and celebrities continue to generalize women into these two classes.
This is similar to any “I’m not like other girls” dialogue. Women shouldn’t feel good or comfortable about separating themselves from other women based on stereotypical, misogynistic generalizations. This keeps a certain class of women down while not really raising themselves up – they’re still playing into patriarchal roles.
Jennifer Lawrence is the pretty "I'm not like other girls, I'm cool and eat pizza" layer of misogynistic generalizing
— Diana Prince (@ElZephyr_) June 21, 2017
The latest misogynistic trend of being “funny” for eating becomes even more problematic when it intersects with sizeism and classism. Larger women who appeal to societal approval by making fun of their weight and consumption of food reinforce the idea that “fat” girls are only acceptable if they are funny, self-deprecating and “know their place” in society.
Meanwhile, portraying fast foods as quirky or funny to consume is classist. Because fast foods are unhealthy, their consumption is often mocked by richer populations as something that’s crass, gross, mockable. But for poor populations, fast food is a vital part of life due to their affordable prices and high calorie count — they keep you fuller for longer.
EASTER BUNNY. YOU KNOW ME TOO WELL. pic.twitter.com/UE7vKyrby9
— Elle Mills (@millselle) April 16, 2017
All women have different relationships with food, but all women should feel comfortable eating in public, eating what they want, and being proud of their body no matter how they eat or why they eat it. Comedians and celebrities who make food “funny” don’t help society to achieve this and we should stop supporting their humor.
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