Why Do People Love To See Models Eating?

eating pasta

No sooner than this Buzzfeed gallery of “Women eating pasta badly” went up than two people immediately e-mailed it to me. Look, I sort of know why these people e-mailed that article to me. One really wants me to succeed, and is trying to find items that are successful that I could somehow duplicate. I think they expected me to respond “I will work on ‘Women Eating Cupcakes Extremely Well’ immediately!”

Though, honestly, we really one upped them ages ago.

Also, “models eating cupcakes extremely well” isn’t that bad an idea, so I’m probably going to work on that next week.

I think the other person – and probably the majority of people reading the article – just love watching models eat food ineffectively. There was something about that article that made them feel profoundly pleased. I mean, I looked at it, too, and felt vague positive feelings. I just am not entirely sure why I felt those positive feelings.

First off, I’m probably happy to see models eating anything. Whether or not individual models have perfectly normal eating habits, we’re all sort of aware that the modeling industry is one that can lend itself to a number of unhealthy eating patterns. We’re certainly aware that people are recruiting models outside of eating disorder clinics. That doesn’t sound like the kind of profession where people eat pasta on a regular basis.

We’re certainly also aware of a number of diets that dictate that practicioners not eat any kind of pasta. Gwyneth Paltrow talks frequently bout the number of things she does not eat, and her vague suspicion that most people are allergic to gluten. There’s certainly reason to come away with the sense that anyone who looks like a model just… would not eat pasta, let alone eat it sloppily?

Are we happy then, that models in stock photos and famous people tucking into a bowl of pasta seem like they are “just like us?” I don’t think we love famous people because they’re just like us. There’s a great line in All About Eve where Addison DeWitt (the wit) says “we do not love stars because they’re just like us. We love stars because they are completely unlike us.”

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    • Eileen

      I think it’s also that it makes them look human. Not “like us” so much as, well, actually living creatures that have (reasonably) functional digestive systems. High fashion often does up its models in a way that makes them look like dolls, or aliens, or something, and my fashion model friend says it’s not uncommon to be told things like, “Wait in this room and don’t make any noise,” or not to be able to eat or drink anything for hours except water through a straw because the hair, makeup, and clothes can’t get messed up. There’s a reason the French word for model is mannequin. Seeing a model eat something – pasta or maybe a cheeseburger – reminds us, oh, hey, she’s actually a human girl/woman underneath all that crap. Which is kind of nice.

    • jamiepeck

      I don’t know, I think there’s a lot of eating disordery stuff going on in a lot of the food shoots I see…the models are never just eating a normal meal normally, they are binging, with the implication that they’re going to purge afterwards. Pretty gross, IMO.