There’s a scene from Shallow Hal (before the place where I walked out of a friend’s home because I found the movie so appalling I couldn’t sit through it) where Hal goes into a restaurant with an absurdly fat girl whom he sees as traditional heroin-chic skinny due to some magical maneovering earlier in the movie. They sit down and she orders an ordinary or perhaps over large meal – cheeseburgers or some such. His eyes grow approvingly wide, and he congratulates her for eating like a normal person.
But the movie makes it clear that if he could see her for what she looks like outwardly – instead of seeing her ‘beautiful personality’ portrayed in the flesh as he prefers to see beauty – he would never have spoken to her, much less considered sleeping with her or spending time with her or falling in love with her.
Shallow Hal may be intended as a caricature of piggish chauvenism, but he isn’t the only one who expects women to be thin and eat like there’s no tomorrow. A Cinderella Story, an overall cute rags-to-riches/coming of age story, has a similar motif. Popular cheerleading girlfriends order ’something with no carbs, no fat, and no sugar’ and are sarcastically offered tap water. Naturally, the heroine diner waitress, we are to understand from her disgusted response to the request, eats like a ‘normal person’ – and yet Hillary Duff is just as skinny as the rest of them. It is a defining moment in the film; the nasty controlling girlfriends vs. the derided but better than them true love interest – and it revolves around food. :eyeroll:
And a movie I recently reviewed positively betrays strokes from the same paintbrush. In one of the bachelorette party sequences of Grey Matters, Charlie and Grey are sharing a bubble bath in the posh hotel tub, and Charlie glibly shares that her spectacularly cellulite free body is ‘good genetics’ – she eats whatever she wants. Which is, of course, her fiance’s number one requirement – he must have a girl who knows how to enjoy a chocolate sundae. But naturally that girl is able to do so without ever dieting and while still meeting the (under) weight requirements of modern society.
It is in fact annoying when everyone is constantly on diets (although, in my experience, dieters are just as likely to be male as female, and when was the last time a man was on a diet on TV? without a woman making him do it?) and complains about it to everyone around them. It is a part of my personal doubts about a diet culture that it makes society focus so very much time and attention on food and spend so much time on feeling hungry and deprived. So I can empathize that perhaps men (as much as myself) can be annoyed with women who constantly fixate on food and fat.
However, in my humble opinion, it is scenes like these detailed above that inform an attitude that women should be able to be unheathily, unsexily*, impossibly thin while still eating like, well, like a guy. That is a contradiction in terms. Very few people can be a size 0 or 2 and eat fast food and ice cream like there is no tomorrow. And such people are not necessarily lucky or healthy, and cannot be held up as the standard for everyone else.
On a happier note, when I think of movie stars and heroin-chic thinness, I always think of that lovely scene from Notting Hill, where Julia Roberts’ character (a movie star within the story) says that her stardom equates to constant dieting, which basically means that she has been hungry for 10 years. I remind myself of that when I compare my appearance to her or Gwyneth Paltrow or any of a hundred other starving rich actresses, and decide that I come out somewhere happier if heavier, and hope that maybe someday TV will find a wardrobe for actresses between size 40 (for comedic value) and size 0 (for sex value).
*Being a woman at least some of the time attracted to women, I find the look decidedly unsexy, even as I feel guilty for not looking like that myself. A more muscular frame (e.g. Starbuck from TV’s Battlestar Gallactica series) or a more curvy one…e.g. no one on TV iI can readily think of but several women I know – is entirely more pleasing, IMO.