Thanks for Your Concern, But I Will Eat Wherever the Hell I Want
So there I was, after a productive day at work, feeling like I’d kicked quite a lot of ass today – a little zen, a little satisfied, and all round at peace with the world.
You know how this ends, right?
Yes, as usual something came along to ruin my day, and cause a hulk out. This time, it was entirely the fault of my (normally quite lovely) agent Juliet, for tweeting a link to this Buzzfeed article on the fact that there is such a thing as a Facebook page called…
Drum roll, please.
“Women Who Eat on Tubes.”
What the actual f*ck?
If you’re busy, my response can be easily summed up with the following visual:
No, seriously. I am eating in public. Like that. Passers by in this trendy-ass coffee shop have observed my eating, but they’re too polite – or possibly scared – to say anything. I’m a living, breathing, woman eating in public.
Run for your lives, bitches.
In all seriousness, though, I don’t even know where to start with this one. I really don’t. It’s messed up on so many levels.
First up, as the Buzzfeed piece rightly notes – it is totally freakin’ creepy to film strangers in public. It is highly likely that there is something wrong with you if you think ‘y’know what? I’m going to film this person who doesn’t realise I’m here, and publicly shame them on the internet.’ I know I called Perez Hilton the ultimate douche canoe, but congratulations – you’ve found a whole ‘nother level. You’re officially a creep.
But obviously, there’s more to it than that.
In fact, it’s fat shaming and misogyny, distilled in their very purest form and brought from the core of what’s wrong with our attitudes towards women, and women’s relationships to food.
See, even before this absolute turd of a Facebook page, I totally got – from painful experience – the Fat Girl Eating in Public Dilemma. I genuinely, genuinely, once pretended to be on the phone whilst eating a muffin in a coffee shop, just so I could have a pretend conversation about how I hadn’t had the chance to eat all day because I’d been so busy doing Very Important Things. To prove to the complete strangers around me that food didn’t dominate my life, and that this food was necessary for my survival, not a result of my sheer gluttony.
Man, that’s sad when I write it down.
It’s sad for me, and it’s sad for my old self, before I realised that I’m actually awesome, eating or otherwise. And it’s sad for anyone who’s ever felt, in any way, shape or form, as though they’re in the judging gaze of someone else, when they’re trying to live their lives in a public space.
And this isn’t just something that happens to ‘fat girls.’
I would bet my trusty morning coffee that most women have felt this – not, admittedly, to such an extreme level – but who hasn’t ordered a salad instead of a pizza on a date? Who hasn’t thought about ordering what they really fancy off a tasty lookin’ menu, but plumped for something smaller, healthier, and more “feminine” because there are other people – male and female – present?
It’s not uncommon, and it’s not unusual. What it is, though, is messed up – and I’ll tell you for why.
To my mind, the fact that people think it’s okay to do that – to shame women of all sizes for eating in public – is a stark, ugly-ass symbol of the fact that our culture still thinks that women ought to live in a state of deprivation, of secrecy, and of shame. It’s as though the image of the woman eating isn’t one we’re prepared to accept. It’s why we get our knickers in a twist at the fact Jennifer Lawrence professes to love cheeseburgers – because it’s still, apparently, revolutionary for a Hollywood starlet to actually eat real food (no T, no shade to J-Law, by the way) – and it’s why we have ever-increasing rates of eating disorders and obesity, all at the same time.
That’s a bitch of a paradox, no?
And it’s one that shows, loud and clear, that we messed up somewhere along the line – and we’ve got a lot of work to do to repair how women ought to feel about their bodies, their confidence, and their relationship with food.
The fact that 1200 calories-a-day is the great cultural myth of our time; the fact that there’s a multi-billion pound diet industry, spiralling anorexia and obesity rates, the Daily Mail, and of course, trolling, pathetic, weak-ass ‘hide-behind-a-camera-and-slag-’em-off-once-I’ve-run-away’ idiots on tubes – these things are linked because we made some serious errors of judgement in figuring out how, exactly, we see women.
So – let me break it down for anyone who’s still unsure.
It’s okay to eat in public, and I for one will continue to do so. I don’t mean to shock or disturb anyone, but that sandwich I’m eating in that picture? Finished it. About half an hour ago, as it happens. It was delicious.
This rule also applies to any mode of public transport you happen to be travelling on – and in fact, knowing myself, there’s a 60% chance I’m going to end up taking more tube journeys, and eating more sandwiches, just to prove this god damn point.
On the other hand, it is not okay to shame people you don’t know on the internet because they’re hungry and fancied a McDonalds. I mean, they’re my mortal enemy – but hell, some days you just want a Maccy D’s. If you do this, you’re a misogynist, a fat-shamer, and an asshat, and this is me shaming you.
And finally, it is not okay to shame, to judge, or to criticise people on their appearance. In any situation. Doing so makes you a relic, and someone who’ll be first up against the wall when my revolution comes.
And on that note – I’ve got fightin’ to do. Over and out.