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Good Intentions

April 17, 2008

via feministing this video is supposedly about encouraging normal eating in women.

They describe the women in the video as “curvy” I’d go with “skinny.”  I don’t know what I think about it yet, although it really isn’t giving me the warm fuzzies.  Perhaps because the word Gluttonous is defined as “excessive eating or drinking” and not, y’know, eating until you aren’t hungry anymore, which is what normal people do.  Thoughts?

Me, not a fan.

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10 Comments
  1. Here’s what I posted on the feministing site:

    Okay, so I’m down with the intention of the video, in that it seeks to redefine and reinterpret our cultural ideas of what constitutes feminine behavior and appetite and foods we often collectively label as “bad.” Although it must be noted that had the video showed fat women crowing about food and gluttony, the interpretation would be vastly different.

    I identify as both a fat rights activist and eating disorders activist. What I see in this video does more damage than it does good. It defies intuitive eating (“If you ain’t really hungry, get your appetite on.”) and encourages binging type behaviors. We have a woman sitting on a bed surrounded by junk and fast food wrappers. In another scene, she’s holding a large bucket of chicken. In the next, she holds a diary in which she lists her food intake every hour on the hour with foods like steak, nachos with extra cheese, pizza, and ice cream. She crows about wanting and eating high-carb and high-cal foods – all of which are highly characteristic of the foods people with eating disorders often binge on.

    This doesn’t strike me as constructive and empowering for women; rather it borders on feeder fetishism. If we really wanted to promote healthy eating and combat those forces which lead women to develop disordered relationships with food and weight, we’d promote intuitive and health eating habits that exclude any mention of weight or weight loss.

  2. This thing is sending some seriously mixed messages. ‘Gluttonous’ is not a positive word. The images of women eating huge amounts of snack foods look like disordered eating. The ‘curvy’ models aren’t that curvy. In fact, the one girl looks like her ‘curvy’ definition is based mostly on the fact that her bikini isn’t a good fit.

    On the other hand, it does talk about rejecting mass-marketed diet plans and how important it is to eat from all the food groups. Alas, it mostly hurries to deliver those messages in one verse out of…what, four? Five?

    The problem is, the visuals are always going to outweigh (pun intended) the probably mostly unlistened-to lyrics in most peoples’ minds, and those visuals aren’t really selling the concept of HAES or having a healthy relationship with food. In fact, most of the interactions with food look scarily sexualized to me. And what was with the guy with the massive hose? Could we get Dr. Freud in for a quick consult, here?

    All in all, I give it about an eight in good intentions, but a minus seventeen in construction, consideration, and getting the idea across. The basic idea (ie: music video celebrating the idea of women honoring their hunger and not ignoring their health in favor of whimsical aesthetics) is a great one, but this is mostly a great example of how not to get your point across.

  3. sarah permalink

    Hmmm…
    I agree: good intentions, bad execution. True, the women in this clip are not scary-skinny, but their bodies are still *very* conventionally attractive. The fact that the lead singer grabs her teensy amount of stomach fat at one point does not make her chubby — in fact, this just reinforces for me how f**ked-up our society’s body ideals are — apparently, if you have *any* discernable body fat you now qualify as “heavier.” Are we really supposed to believe that any one in this video has actually been exhorted to go to Jenny Craig? Our popular culture already has a crazy paradox wherein women are considered “fun” and “carefree” if have appetites and eat what they want…but only if they are super-conventionally-hot at the same time. Stereotypically, women who are fat are unattractive, but women who watch what they eat are obsessive and boring. Unless you’ve won the genetic lottery, you’re screwed either way. I feel that this video merely reinforces these concepts, even though it’s trying to say something positive.

  4. libbyblue permalink

    The video is still waaaaay too hung up on the good foods/bad foods dichotomy. Everyone still has the attitude of “fuck yes, I’m eating bad foods!” rather than a healthier “I’m eating what feels right, and there is no good or bad.” Also, why on earth are they trying to reclaim “gluttonous” as something positive? Binge eating is harmful. They’re redefining it as something that it’s not. Finally, even if they were successfully conveying healthy attitudes, the combination of the video’s amateurishness and the actresses’ self-consciousness would still make it painful to watch. If you’re going to do a low-budget campy project, at least try to look like you’re really having fun. I give it a fail.

  5. littlem permalink

    “good intentions, bad execution”

    That describes a lot of what’s gone on at Feministing lately.

  6. To me, the problem (for lack of a better word) lies in the fact that while most FA activists identify themselves as feminists, not all feminist activists identify themselves as FA/HAES/IE activists. Now I’m not saying it’s a requirement or anything, but it certainly would be nice if the two were intertwined in reality as well as in theory.

  7. I don’t think we can really blame feministing for this video. It’s not like they made it, they were just linking it and having a discussion. (I’m all out of sanity points though after this week’s debate, so I’m not reading the comments over there.)

    I guess my problem with the video is they probably came up with this really funny idea for a parody song, and made it, without actually researching the issues they were proporting to advocate. (I mean it isn’t like the fatosphere hasn’t been all over the news lately.) And so the video, to someone whose interested in encouraging healthy eating comes off as being ignorant. (I’ve had time to think about this now.)

    But I”m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like it, I thought I was just being oversensitive because all the girls in the video are hotter than me.

  8. Karen permalink

    I wouldn’t have though of them as “skinny” so much as what is purported to be “healthy.” I was skinny, they’re heavier than I was. Perhaps a better word for me would have been “scrawny.”

    That said, the food diary, in and of itself, isn’t healthy, and it isn’t normal. I know men aren’t exactly the best example, but, men don’t seem to keep food diaries. Since skinny to somewhat overweight men really can eat whatever they want without judgment and most men I know don’t even necessarily remember what they eat from day to day unless some sort of special eating ritual took place, like going out for steak or company lunch, I’d have to say they’re likely the healthiest eaters we have. Non-obsessive about food. Eat veggies when they get the urge, eat meat when they get the urge, only overeats a little for really good food, but still makes sure there’s enough for lunch the next day . . . really, we could do a lot worse than really watching how our men eat.

    And I do mean “our” in a very general sense. If yours is fat, I can see that he’s likely to have picked up the same good food/bad food issues that women have, but I don’t see that most men have. It isn’t aimed at them.

  9. Karen,
    I stayed away from the “healthy” label specifically because health is not a descriptor of body weight, it is a descriptor of behavior. Those women are skinny, women who are thinner than that are emaciated. Women are supposed to have fat on their bodies.

    Otherwise though think you’ve touched on the very reason that Fat Acceptance and feminism are so intrinsicly linked. The reason women are obsessed with food is because they are socialized to value themselves based on their physical appearance more than men are. And our society says that attractive = thin.

    As long as women are taught to value their looks over their own health and abilities, they’ll probably continue to be obsessed with food.

  10. Ursula permalink

    That’s a very odd video if “normal eating” is what it’s purporting to promote. The scene on her bed, surrounded by empty food wrappers, seems more like disordered eating. “Normal” (i.e., healthy, non-disordered) eating would take place at a dining table, not a bed. And her food journal definitely points to disordered eating (10 AM pizza, 11 AM steak, 12 PM grilled cheese, 1 PM ice cream, 2 PM nachos — so disordered!). And then, like you said, the word “gluttonous”. Not a good word to use if you want to convey that eating when you’re hungry is OK. In fact, calling it “gluttonous” will probably have the exact opposite effect – as in, “Hmm, I’m hungry and I want to eat, but if I eat I will be ‘gluttonous’ like they said in that video.”

    Sorry for the untimely response. I see this train has already left the station, but I just ran across this post for the first time today.

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