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!”
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.”
And the models sloppily eating pasta are completely unlike us, in that we are generally allowed to eat pasta sloppily. I mean, not really. I am incredibly worried about eating pasta sloppily. A friend mentioned that she is not only afraid of seeming slurpy, now, she’s also afraid of ending up a stock photo, so I guess Buzzfeed articles like these give us more reason to worry about that than ever.
But, in general, I do not think people have serious concerns about whether or not they are eating pasta in an incredibly appropriate way. There will be no serious repercussions if you eat pasta and do not eat it daintily. If anything, it will make you seem cute in a Lady and the Tramp kind of way. Or just kind of gross. I’d probably avert my head if a stranger came up to me and began eating pasta agressively, but that would be for a lot of reasons.
Nothing will happen except that you will seem extra adorable.
But when models do it? Well, they seem like cowboys.
When we see them eating pasta, unlike us, we assume they must be doing it because they are willing to rebel against everything they’ve been told they are supposed to do. They’re not going to just eat kale. They’re mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore. And they’re going to express that by eating massive bowls of spaghetti in the most ineffective ways possible.
And that’s exciting, because, by doing that, it reminds us that we’re a bit better off than they are.
We get to feel superior to the beautiful women in the pictures because we know that, while people may not pay us to take our picture, we can eat pasta anytime we want. What’s more, we eat pasta so regularly that we eat it reasonable gracefully. We eat it without difficulty at all. And when you look as the joy in the model’s faces, we feel like that is really all they want to do. It gives the impression that the good life is not defined by looking incredibly attractive and being paid for your photograph, it’s just defined by eating a bowl of pasta. Looking at photos like this make us feel like we have made the right choices to a tremendous extent.
Or, I suppose, we could all just want to see people act out Lady and The Tramp. Honestly, just as “Models Eating Cupcakes Well” is a pretty good article idea, that’s a pretty good movie. But if that were the case, surely someone would have figured out how to stage this with dogs (get on it immediately, everyone.)