As a female food blogger who appreciates the crazy, bizarre and outrageous foods that exist in the world, I have been asked a lot of questions. Many girls ask me how I “eat like a man” all the time, why I’m not “super fat,” or if I work out excessively to maintain a healthy physique. These questions always bothered me, because a) I eat like any human (not a man) who enjoys food and b) people are constantly associating women with weight and body image. With the rise of social media, it seems that no one can just look at a photo of a girl eating food without some kind of judgment associated with weight or eating habits.
It’s no secret that body image has become an even bigger issue for women over the past decade and social media is both helpful and harmful to the healthy body image movement. It’s helpful because many organizations come together online and promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits. It’s harmful because women are constantly comparing themselves to others, looking at airbrushed ads, following models on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. But the airbrushed ads and the models are just idealized versions of real life and everyone knows that. It’s what REAL women and REAL people keep saying and doing that keep this stigma alive.
This has bothered me for a while, and it is one of the reasons I started a food blog. I’m not one to get all “ra ra fight fight,” but when someone commented on one of my photos (I was holding a doughnut, whoopdeedoo) and tagged @youdidnoteatthat I felt defensive. Because I did eat that! And it was awesome! But I shouldn’t have to defend the fact that I actually ate a doughnut.
Let me explain. @YouDidNotEatThat is an Instagram account with 106,000 followers that runs on the whole premise that healthy, skinny, slim, attractive (whatever) women who take pictures of or with food do not actually eat it, but only use it as a prop. Yeah, this account makes fun of food Instagrams and our obsession with taking pictures of food (which is real but whatever) but it only focuses on women, which can be taken the wrong way and once again, further associate women with body image and weight. Some of the photos make sense, because they are either jokes with the person in the photo tagged or “idealized” airbrushed photos of a model pretending to eat a burger or a poorly photoshopped doughnut in an ad.
Like this one:
Or this one:
However, some of the photos on this account are pictures taken of or by actual women in a restaurant or holding food and posing with it. Regardless if it’s a joke or not, the assumption that women don’t eat or shouldn’t eat is being promoted. Why can’t a woman just take a picture with her goddamn french fries and that just be it?
Why do people care if these women actually ate the food? And why is it so funny to pretend that they didn’t, even if they did? Food is a pleasure for the human race as a whole and there are many food Instagrammers and bloggers out there, so women shouldn’t be the sole focus of this account. People (no matter what gender, what they look like, who they are, what they do, etc.) should be able to post photos of food for whatever damn reason they choose, and there are many possible reasons (their friends might like it, it could be an inside joke, they could find it visually appealing, it could be the best dish they’ve ever had, but really who cares).
Healthy women eat what they want, know when to stop, and don’t obsess over food, calories, carbs, etc. Healthy women live life and are in tune with their bodies in whichever way they please to be. They all have their own tastes in food and know when they should or shouldn’t eat that last cupcake, but that’s up to them, and they can do what they want about it. This account is half joking and half serious, but either way it’s kind of pointless. What good does it do to assume that a woman didn’t really eat the food on her plate and go around posting pictures of them (whether they know or not) and further promote this idea that women can’t just enjoy a juicy cheeseburger? None.