Women, Food and Fame

24 Sep

Many of us women have a love/hate relationship with food.

Until a few years ago, I was actually one of them. But as a feminist, certain things about the philosophy of food-hating started to make me question my former beliefs.

Why is it that female celebs are expected to keep unreasonably svelte figures, while their male co-stars can often look however they want and not only get roles, but still be considered “a good catch” and a viable love interest for the female protagonist. (A classic case would be Katherine Heigl vs. Seth Rogen in Knocked Up. There have got to be about a trillion things wrong with that movie.  There’s also Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Zach and Miri Make a Porno…and just about every Seth Rogen movie.) While expectations for women’s looks increase tenfold, standards for men plummet.

Moreover, it is ironic that the rise in dieting fads and eating disorders correlates with the era of the women’s movement. As women in the media strived to make their bodies lank and unfeminine, asserting the place of the modern woman in the working world, we failed to realize that we were merely taking up the burden of woman-hating upon ourselves, through self-punishment.

Celebrities nowadays look more like starvation victims than our country’s top earners. It is ironic when the richest people in North America’s most prosperous cities live in far worse conditions than the rural poor of the “developing” nations. (If the actresses in some of these nations got to even close to the size of North American actresses, their careers would be over.) And what’s even more disturbing is that us, the regular girls, watch these celebrities’ movies and buy their albums and pretend that everything is normal. We sit behind HD TVs and critique these women when they gain a pound or show a wrinkle or two in their smiles, telling ourselves that we’d look better if we had what they had. We watch and judge their every break-up and break-down not just onscreen, but in real life, telling ourselves that if we were in their shoes, we’d still find a way to hold it together.

I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it; I cannot lie or pretend. No, it’s not normal to die of a heart-attack in your early thirties like Brittany Murphy. It’s not just another “normal, successful diet” when your shoulder bones and ribcage end up emaciated to the point of protrusion, like those of almost all reality stars. And no, Britney Spears was never fat in any way, shape, or form, especially not at the VMAs a few years ago.

Who needs good old-fashioned misogynists when women are torturing themselves with semi-starvation diets and unrealistic beauty standards? When we are critiquing each other harsher than any male chauvinist pig could ever hope for? When we work hard to obtain high salaries yet literally deny ourselves the fruits of our earnings by beating ourselves up for every morsel of dessert or delicacy we reluctantly allow ourselves to eat? They’ve sure trained us well, because now they’ve even taken our feminist movements from us.


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