Women and Food
I read this in Entertainment Weekly (#826 June 17, 2005):
…She’s also been invested with an ayy-dorable snacking habit. In the final scene, she returns to her hotel and practically makes love to a Ding Dong. The fetishization of women indulging in food is wearing: The I love burgers and I’m a reg’lar girl! ethos jump-started by Cameron Diaz circa There’s Something About Mary has now become shorthand for “she’s down-to-earth.” Have a woman jam a large lamb shank down her maw, and she’s just swell. There’s got to be another way to give a female character layers. Like…by giving her layers.
I’ve noticed that very few women on TV eat like me. But before that strikes anyone too strange, I hasten to add that I am convinced no one in real life eats like me either.
What is my strangeness? I eat mostly for convenience, and usually because I start feeling sick if I don’t. I’m not hugely fond of food in general, and not likely to go ape over chocolate or coffee.
But when I have the inclination and the time I try to eat healthy. Imagine that: I’m mostly just living my life, not obsessing one way or the other about food, but trying to eat healthy (my way, which means no calorie counting but ingredient watching).
Is it really true that no one eats like me? As I said, I’m convinced that everyone else in the world obsesses about food, that they fall into one of two categories – compulsive eaters or people who have eating disorders, and health nuts who never eat anything that doesn’t fit their diet.
But is that the case? When I try really hard and set aside my preconceived idea, I realize that people’s eating habits come in as many flavors as food does. Sure, most people talk about dieting more than I do – but I’m laid back enough that most people in the world obsess more than I do. That’s nothing new or strange.
But the people I know usually fall in between those categories. Sometimes everyone – including me – would do almost anything for that one food they’re craving. And most everyone has at one time or another for one reason or another been really strict in diet.
So why is it that men on TV just eat, and women make a big deal out of it? Can you imagine a scene where a man goes back to a hotel room and enjoys a Ding Dong like this woman is described as doing? Honestly, what is the first thought that pops into your head? Go ahead say it: “Well, sure, but he’s probably gay.” Yeah, exactly what I was thinking. And the second thought? How boring. Why would I want to watch a guy eat a Twinkie? My point – the article’s author’s point – exactly. Why would we want to watch a woman eat a Ding Dong either?
The men I know are just as often concerned about diet and health as women – for every man who just eats I know a woman who is similar; for every woman who diets I know a man who also does.