Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Food, Fatness, and Feminism

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column over at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.
Today, when I was browsing the ‘net to see what was going on in my world, I stopped for a moment on the top stories at Yahoo (first mistake). There, I was reminded of one of the biggest mixed messages we receive: eat, eat, eat! But somehow, above all else, stay thin.
As women, we encounter confusing messages almost everywhere we turn. We’re supposed to remain virginal, but we’re also supposed to know how to please a man. We’re supposed to simultaneously be amazing mothers and also now the best in our fields. We’re supposed care about how we look and be attractive, but not dress too sexy (because then we’re sluts.) On top of it all, comes the additional pressure that we are supposed prepare and enjoy food, yet make sure that we work off all of those tricky little calories so that we stay desirable.
The burden to be thin in our society is undeniable. Practically no one is immune to the messages. In fact, “almost nine in 10 American teenage girls say they feel pressured by the fashion and media industries to be skinny and that an unrealistic, unattainable image of beauty has been created.” The results of this pressure are detrimental. “10% of the girls and women in the US have eating disorders. Of those, an estimated 50,000 will die as a result of their disease.” It’s no joke. Read more...

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