FEED ME!: Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight, and Body Image

by Jacquelyn Lewis

Feed Me! is a beautifully written essay collection, but it proves we still have a long way to go toward freeing ourselves form the grips of a cultural ideal of the female form.

Very few of the 23 essays in Feed Me! are ultimately more than tracts about slender women who are horrified by their weight. And the writers’ discourses—about relationships with food, eating disorders, body image, and self-esteem—just reinforce the argument that women still have a long way to go toward self-acceptance. In one standout essay, Kate Harding rejects terms like “voluptuous,” “plump,” and “fluffy,” insisting she is just plain “fat.” Further reading reveals she’s “kind of small” for a fat person, and the oxymoron is not lost on the reader. Most of the other writers struggle with what appears to be a collective case of body dysmorphia, their personal demons and diseases causing them to wrestle with their emotions and jean sizes. Where does that leave the bulk of the female population, underrepresented here, who are yearning to find a chemise to cover their womanly curves? Are all these women de facto morbidly obese? With its overall deference to modern, slender, body-revering values, this book is not pretty or funny, though it does breed some semblance of solidarity. That said, the essays—by such writers as Joyce Maynard, Caroline Leavitt, and Diana Abu-Jaber—are beautifully written, teeming with feeling and, more often than not, a high frequency of self-loathing. Feed Me! is full of women who continue to be corseted, struggling to free themselves from the grips of a cultural ideal of the female form.

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