Breaking news: Celebrities eat, food writers don’t cook.

The New York Times printed two thought-provoking articles this week that deal directly with gender and food.

The first was a big old lead story in the food section about DIPE — documented instance of public eating — a  technique that writers have long used when profiling female celebrities.

For regular readers of glossy magazines — which depend on interviews with famous people to generate chatter and goose newsstand sales — such situations have become increasingly familiar. (Especially over the last year or so, and most persistently in Esquire, the source of the three preceding examples, as well as Ms. Kelly’s November 2010 crown of sexiness.) A writer meets a starlet for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The starlet, usually of slim and gamine proportions, appears to thwart our expectations by ordering and consuming, with conspicuous relish, a meal that might satisfy a hungry dockworker.

Carol J. Adams, the author of “The Sexual Politics of Meat” whom I’ve mentioned before but whose book I still haven’t tackled, had this to say: “These images of women, whether they’re ads or they’re in magazines, they’re all saying the same thing: traditional consumption of women’s bodies and animals’ bodies is O.K….It’s like fraternity culture gone viral. ‘Consume what you want.’ And, ‘What you want to consume actually wants to be consumed.’ ”

I think it’s fascinating that the Times gave so much coverage to this idea which we’ve all come across before. What do you think? Is this an attempt to humanize celebrities or, as in Adams’ eyes, further sexualize them? Why does it seem to happen more in articles about svelte females in the public eye instead of male celebrities, who are also being profiled?


Pete Wells said farewell to his father-son-cooking column “Cooking with Dexter” in the NYT magazine with an interesting and unexpected conclusion:

What I’ve learned in the past two years is that when people say they’re too busy to cook, it isn’t like when they tell their doctors they exercise three, maybe four times a week. They mean it: they’re too busy to cook, or at least too busy to cook dinner every night of the week before the children go to bed.


I know this scenario oh too well.

I find myself at the end of a very long day at work — writing and blogging about food, cooking food for photo shoots, interviewing people and crafting arguments about why we should all find the time to cook healthy meals for ourselves and our families — and often just don’t have it left in my to put my money where my mouth is and fire up the stove.

He ended this column with this very poignant scene. He had cooked a dinner for his wife for her birthday. “It wasn’t much, but it was my birthday gift for the woman who was cooking for Dexter while I was only writing about it.

There’s so much weight in that statement alone that I could go on for hours. But, it’s Saturday morning, and I have breakfast to cook, er, assemble.

6 responses to “Breaking news: Celebrities eat, food writers don’t cook.

  1. PW’s statement got me too! I have been finding the time to cook for my family but sometimes it feels like a rushed chore, something I never experienced before I started writing about food. Don’t even get me started about how terrible I feel when dinner’s ready and I have to say, “You guys go ahead and eat. I have to go take some pictures of this before it wilts.”

  2. I read the DIPE article, too. Although there are clearly over-arching issues along the lines of those described by Carol J. Adams, it seems to me that this current spurt of DIPE is simpler. It’s a feeble attempt to show that the pop culture insistence on scary skinny models & actresses isn’t: a) really due to any external pressure because ‘see, they really eat what they want;’ or b) due to any unhealthy eating habits or say, anorexia.

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  4. I agree with Susan. I see an attempt to dismiss the oppression surrounding the female body image. It’s a pretty old sexism at this point: women must meet a standard of perfection, but they can’t put any effort into it. They have to just be born that way.

    So not only are women supposed to have the body of a pre-pubescent boy, but they’re also supposed to eat like Michael Phelps while they maintain it. Go unattainable standards.

  5. I just ran into your blog, and I LOVE it! I hadn’t realized that other people were even writing about this issue too. I dabbled in food blogging for a while and have instead decided to stick to feminist blogging, but I get really excited when I find an intersection of the two. Anyways, just wanted to say hi, and that I’m following you now. And, I actually wrote about that DIPE article too, though not nearly as eloquently as you did, :).

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