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On Sunday night as celebrities paraded down the red carpet on their way to the Emmy's, my Twitter feed filled up with variations on one disturbing theme: "Someone give Kristen Wiig a cheeseburger!" "Nina Dobrev needs to eat a sandwich," and "Why did they forget to feed Julie Bowen?"
Oy. I can't decide what irritates me most about these comments.
Is it the faux concern for these actresses' health, as if the body snarkers are just legitimately really worried that Julie Bowen has been going hungry? I think that's why the most oft-used phrase is "needs to eat a sandwich." Sandwiches connote some kind of wholesome, old-fashioned Americana eating. There are carbs! But also protein! Your mom will fix you one -- maybe with potato chips!
It's like these folks think that their Tweets will alert Hollywood to the eating disorder happening right under their noses and save the day. "At first I just thought she really liked running," Bowen's agent will muse later to US Weekly. "Then ProudCurvyGurl72 tweeted that 'maybe Julie needs to eat a sandwich LOL' and I thought, 'Oh my God, she does! How did we not see it before?!'" Yeah. Probably won't play out like that.
Or, is it the hypocrisy that grates so much? Every time a new Tweet came in -- or I hear a comment like this from one of my friends, a colleague, even my mom -- I feel slightly stunned, like someone I really like just pinched me for no good reason. These are smart, thoughtful women. Women who champion the notion that we need a broader definition of beauty and need to celebrate health and beauty at every size and represent women of all sizes and shapes in the media. Women who, later that same night, sent out a raft of celebratory tweets when our girl Melissa McCarthy won her Emmy, scoring a victory for not-traditionally-beautiful women everywhere.
I get it because I've made the sandwich joke, oh, about a thousand times myself. Because the fact is, it gets very exhausting trying to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes when you are forever only seeing one shape and size in the media -- and it's the shape that looks nothing like you. It can make a girl be, well, kinda petty.
But still, we have a fundamental disconnect: A lot of my Twitter friends would tell you that you can't assume all fat people are unhealthy, lazy, overeating and never exercising. And yet, somehow it's okay for them to assume that a very skinny person is unhealthy, obsessive, starving, and exercising way too much -- and suggest sandwiches as a medical intervention.
So listen up, smart, thoughtful women everywhere: This is not okay. You're just flipping the discrimination around. You are still assuming you can tell a person's health, personality, and whatever else just by looking at them.
In fact, all you can tell by looking at a person is, well, what they look like -- oh, and how their appearance makes you feel about you.