It was a small comment on this great post by meowser on Fat Fu that set a lightbulb off in my mind. While talking about food shaming, this really jumped out at me:
Seriously. I will never be able to understand how the same women who (rightly) opine that women should have the right to drink like men frequently balk at the idea that women should be allowed to eat like men. Sure, you can inhale a thousand calories’ worth of Cosmopolitans or Coronas and fall off your barstool and that’s badass righteous, but gods forbid you should indulge in a cheeseburger. On a bun made with white flour. With fries. And a full-sugar soft drink. (You food slut, you.)
The emphasis is mine.
That’s what this is all about isn’t it? That’s what the objection to fat women really boils down to. The perception that women who are fat, must eat a lot, so therefore they are food sluts. Because if a woman enjoys ANYTHING, be it food, sex, shopping, alcohol, working, you name it, then she must be enjoying it to excess, be gluttonous, addicted, enslaved by her enjoyment, and by extension, a slut.
Of course, feminism steps up for most of these things, and says that women should be able to enjoy things as much as men, but as Meowser rightly says, often not when it comes to food. The slut shaming is still there, only it’s not sex or drinking and so on, it’s food. Because so many people believe, and some of those people are feminists, that fat is still the most disgusting vice that one can have.
The idea that women enjoying anything, regardless of how much they are enjoying it, is somehow un-ladylike is antiquated and offensive. Surely we’ve moved past the age where women were expected to be “dainty” about everything in their lives? We’re not allowed to please ourselves in any way, instead women are expected to be pleasing to others. And it’s not just men. A lot of the most hateful vitriol that women suffer comes from other women. The piece that Meowser is responding to in her blog post is by a woman who calls herself a feminist, published on Feministe. It was really disheartening to read this from a feminist, when it’s hard enough fighting the narrow minded expectations of misogynists, without having to deal with it from within our own sphere.
Until we can shift the thinking that women enjoying themselves in any way is somehow un-ladylike and unfeminine, we’re still going to be oppressed as a gender. It doesn’t matter if it’s sex, or food, or anything else – slut shaming is still slut shaming.
While women are forced to feel guilt for what they eat (or what they are perceived to be eating by their body shape/size), they’re not free to be equal human beings, and disordered behaviours and damaged body image will run rife.