In LOVE Magazine’s 2017 advent calendar, model Emily Ratajkowski is featured rubbing spaghetti on her body as she rolls around seductively on top of a dining table. In a post-photoshoot interview, Ratajkowski professes her love of pasta and “being greased up in olive oil,” urging women to “do what [they] want” in the name of feminism. The shoot – which was intended to promote a ‘feminist’ message about choice in response to sexual assault allegations in Hollywood – used food coupled with the thin, white, pornographized, female body to express ‘female empowerment’; a trope that has been used in advertising many times before. As some feminist researchers have argued, these themes are commonplace in a postfeminist media landscape; one that embraces gender stereotypes and…

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The controversial documentary The Game Changers seeks to debunk the myth that plant-based proteins will never be as good as their animal counterpart. For those who have not seen the documentary, a quick look at the film poster might help to better understand what is at stake here: in the documentary, vegan athletes are depicted as so ultra-masculine that they also make their dietary choice “manly” and, therefore, do not challenge hegemonic ideals of masculinity. We see a strong arm, a clenched fist, and enlarged veins with green blood circulating through them. Next to this arm, green and white letters proclaim: “Fueled by the Truth: The Game Changers.” At first glance, the poster seems to announce a remake of the…

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In 1963, patriarchal social structures in the United States seemed to be getting stirred up by female voices challenging the hegemonic imaginary woman, when Betty Friedan published her seminal book The Feminine Mystique. That same year, Jean Nidetch started a company helping women reduce their body weight: Weight Watchers, now called WW. By losing weight, as Marisa Meltzer argues in her book This is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World (and Me) (2020), Nidetch “basically earned the American dream” (8) and then sold it as a commodity. Meltzer explains that “Jean had a Cinderella story for the ages. She was a maven and mogul who lost weight, spectacularly found her calling, and helped to create a national pastime and obsession that endures today” (276).…

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  “Can you imagine my mom’s reaction?” [Abby asks]. “Eat Healthy with Norah!’s Norah suspected of having a fat kid!” —Amy Spalding, The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles (91) This quote from the well-received young adult novel The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding vividly captures the essence of the novel: The main character’s (Abby Ives’s) striking line pictures the tensions between her mother and herself that are based in their different approaches to how to live a good life—and the good life is immediately connected to a healthy and slim body. While Abby stridently points out that her fat body visibly contradicts her mother’s lifestyle, the name of her mother’s…

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Creamy, sometimes salty, and optimistically yellow, butter is one of my favorite foods. It’s also a scientific and cultural barometer. For the first half of the twentieth century, nutritionists enthusiastically endorsed butter as a good source of energy and part of a healthy, moderate diet. Early government-issued food guides endorsed eating enough food, as public health efforts focused on such problems a nutritional deficiencies and inadequate diets, particularly for children. Since then, increased food availability, changing disease patterns, and additional research have reshaped food and nutrition guidelines, changing perceptions of butter along the way. Butter’s shifting nutritional status provides a window into major developments in dietary advice and public health. The following food guides sought to communicate each historical moment’s…

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