Does Society Only Accept “Hot” Foodies?

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Renee Cafaro is the US Editor of plus size fashion magazine, SLiNK and lives in New York City. She started her luxury plus size style blog, Foxy Roxy, in 2010 and has been published in Yahoo! Travel, NY Post, and several other online outlets. Prior to her recent writing career, Ms. Cafaro had a 13-year career in City & State politics, including becoming the youngest member of senior staff for then-Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer.  She then moved on to join New York Governor David Paterson's administration in 2008, the same year NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases diagnosed her with Seronegative Arthritis. This was an additional diagnosis that she wasn't expecting when she went in search of treatment for the Fibromyalgia pain she has dealt with since around age 11. She has worked very hard to find success in her life and career in spite of her chronic pain disorders and a lifetime of bullying, but it hasn't always been easy. At 17, she was starting her junior year at Stanford University and struggled with misdiagnoses and dismissal about her condition from the administration, which ultimately led her to leave before graduation. Despite this set back, physical hardships and a general lack of support, she has found success and happiness in her life now that she can share her story to help those with similar paths. She toured the US as the Arthritis Foundation’s National Honoree raising awareness for invisible diseases, has lent her voice to countless causes on Capitol Hill, and now spends her career helping others find their beauty and confidence, while combatting the effects of cyber bullying, misogyny and size prejudice. She also uses her voice as a singer in a hard rock cover band to give her much-needed balance and another form of self-expression. Cafaro will always be passionate about speaking out in hopes that other women will never have to feel alone or helpless.

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The Fast Fashion

Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of fast fashion that emulates fast food. Pizza emoji patches or crop tops emblazoned with silliness like “Fries before Guys” have been showing up all over your local mall stores, which made me wonder one thing: what would happen if I, as a plus size woman, wore clothing dedicated to junk food. Many of us in the plus size influencer realm or just about any woman who is not very thin, has at some point been shamed by an internet troll or street harassed for their weight, what they eat or given “helpful tips on health.” So I couldn’t imagine that I wouldn’t be “asking for it” if I was all over Instagram with a plate of wings on my butt like Chrissy Tiegen or telling interviewers how much I love junk food. Hell, I’ve seen curve models post pics of healthy food porn like avocado toast and still get fat-shamed by people who claim to know more about that woman’s health than she does or exclaiming that they bet she chows cheeseburgers all day and will die of a heart attack.

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How the Society Views Fast Fashion

My suspicions seemed validated with 3 cursory google searches while researching my hypothesis for this. Pro tip: Don’t google ‘hot girls who eat junk.” You only get porn. I should have guessed and honestly this is very telling about the problems with society and the male gaze. Women aren’t first known as doing something human like eating, but rather eating something much more NSFW, but I digress.

So, I tried again with “celebrities junk food.” You get a fangirl piece on how Jennifer Lawrence is “giving us life” with her down to earth love of fast food and a People magazine roundup on celebs (all thin) with their favorite junk foods.  Next, I tried “plus size model junk food” and sadly that immediately turned up a judgement piece on what nutritionists think you should choose a fast food joints, the fat shaming of flat-stomached plus model Iskra Lawrence and the viral story of a plus size model being harassed on a plane for being fat.  

So, this begs the question, if either of the top articles on celebs eating like regular Americans (aka kind of poorly, yes) featured Melissa McCarthy instead of Jennifer Lawrence, would the tone still be celebratory? I think not. It is simultaneously ingrained in society that thin equals health and fast food is bad for you. So, how do we explain this paradoxical fad of social media and listicle sites exalting Hollywood stars who admit their “shameful’ Taco Bell habit?

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Well, it is because it not only allows the average fan to feel that their idols, complete with highly unattainable bodies, are “just like them.” It gives us a sort of license to feel better about a “cheat day” or comfort about our natural human desires to let taste buds be a pleasure center instead of a dirty habit. Roughly 50% of American women are on a diet at any given time. I am all for health and taking care of oneself but that is a bit insane. If you are required to lose weight by doctor’s orders, by all means, do what you must do, but to say that half of women are in constant pursuit of losing weight illustrates our societal obsession with thinness.

Educating People

This brings me to believe that in a diet-obsessed world, since these celebs are already thin it is seen as “OK” for them to do this because of the notion that they must be healthy.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not a celebrity doctor. I’m sure they are in pretty good health but I can’t say if Paris Hilton is predisposed for heart disease or what Kim Kardashian’s blood sugar is. Neither can you since you can’t judge health from a picture. Yet, most of the internet will disagree with me here, since 100% of trolls feel they know the intimate health details of a fat woman better than she does. There are ways to be active with perfect vital statistics at any size, and I prove that as a size 18 half marathoner.

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Until I am no longer approached by strangers who feel compelled to make a commentary on my being at a McDonald’s (the same McDonald’s line that THEY are in, mind you), I will find it hard not to roll my eyes at tiny women who post pics of ice cream on Insta with tone-deaf hashtags like #fattie or crop tops covered in donuts. Perhaps you have felt the privilege of being a smaller sized person who can freely discuss eating without being judged and insulted, and if so, I urge you to think about and educate others on this double standard. In the end, we all deserve to live free and enjoy life in the same ways regardless of what we look like, so we are all in this fight against fat shaming together.

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