Wednesday, May 21, 2014

You maybe did eat that

NYMag is right, youdidnoteatthat is hilarious. What it is, for the don't-click-on-links brigade: an Instagram that reprints photos of fashion-and-lifestyle bloggers and other fashion sorts posing with food, along with captions such as, "After reviewing several dozen photos of @iza_goulart in various states of undress we are going to go with#youdidnoteatthat."

This is, as followers of the fashionz know well, a longstanding thing - photographing models with food, or, in text, interviews where whichever ingenue of course orders a cheeseburger. Instagram, selfies, and the ever-expanding pool of online fashion celebrities have together made it possible for a parody site to take off.

What the site makes fun of is, among other things, the idea that to be Fashion, a woman must be not only thin, but naturally thin. It's much more chic if you think she's eating a dozen macarons as a mid-morning snack. Predictably enough, there's at least one commenter who's being all, you know some people who are really thin do eat, right? When, eh, that's sort of beside the point. It's not so literal.

And yet, I'm also reminded of the (WWPD-coined) concept of "naturally fat" - the belief that any woman able to fit into a standard-size airline seat has surely not eaten a carb in decades. Not just models, or the visibly emaciated - of whom some are naturally as thin as you see, but not many. Women who are thin in the sense of, they're not fat, but who are what might better be deemed... healthy-looking? Normal-BMI-looking? Neither fat nor thin? I thought this most in conjunction with the photo of the woman from Cupcakes and Cashmere - who has now, it seems, blocked youdidnoteatthat. Is it really inconceivable that this woman (who is, incidentally, built almost exactly like I am) eats bread? Is this really in the same category as Gisele posing with a giant tub of pasta?

To be clear, it's possible that anyone of any size (including someone obese) diets to be that size, and would naturally be heavier. But what's a reasonable assumption of someone very underweight who is, for example, paid to stay that size (thus the criticisms of the fashion industry) doesn't really carry over to the more... to the people who are not all that thin, and are not runway models.

What bothers me about this, to reiterate, is really this idea that every woman, always, is (or ought to be) a physical work-in-progress. Whatever a woman looks like, we're meant to imagine it's the result of tremendous effort. "Naturally fat" is about reinforcing the idea that if any woman eats, well, food, she will (no matter her build or appetite) become fat - fat enough for fat-shaming and doctors' tsk-tsk-ing, not just too fat for a size zero or a runway career. Which is not merely a false assumption, but a dangerous one.


Londoner said...

From NYMag:

She's fed up with the staged photos of bloggers in bikinis claiming to wolf down gigantic ice cream cones or five-course brunches and so, one regram at a time, set out to play good-natured whistleblower

I doubt there's anything good-natured about it. Just another example of merciless Darwinian competition. In this instance, we have the derogation of intrasexual rivals deemed especially threatening.

Phoebe said...

I read "good-natured" as "tongue-in-cheek" or "humorous." And if competitiveness enters into it, it seems more the about fashionland hierarchy (i.e. career-related jealousy, or maybe jealousy over swag - these bloggers get all kinds of free stuff in exchange for posing while cute), not a competition over men