July 9, 2019
“Honor your hunger,” proclaims one post on Instagram—and it represents only the leading edge of a new food movement powered by one of the only demographic groups that it still seems to be okay to mock.
“I’m Katie, I’m fat, I love food and my life,” says the bio at the top of the Instagram account @fat.girl.eats.
And the images on the site are a testament to not only to her appetite—what 35-year-old office worker Katie Przybl describes as “Photos of me enjoying food while fat”—but also a cry for empathy and acceptance.
“My Instagram is all happy fat people living their lives,” Przybyl recently told The Daily Beast.
And she has plenty of company, as a member of a growing online community of women who “are done fighting their weight.” Quite simply, they “are over” the whole shaming ethic and just want to live their lives authentically.
These armchair activists hope exposure to their pictures over time will do the quiet work of normalizing fat people. “If I manage to convince one fat person that they have a right to live a decent life, then I consider that a form of activism,” says Przybyl.
According to The Daily Beast, some 45 million Americans go on diets every year. Over half of those dieters are women—which is no surprise since research shows that many women have a relationship to food that is characterized by fear, loathing, and anxiety.
Just ask any fat woman about eating a burger in public and you’ll probably get a lengthy sigh. But in a world where we shop, date, and make friends virtually, what happens when fat women post pictures of themselves eating online?
Intuitive eating coach Alissa Rumsey created the Instagram hashtag #womeneatingfood along with fellow diet counselor Linda Tucker, The New Daily reports. The concept is simple. Women are invited to take photos of themselves eating and then post them online with the hashtag, which has grown from three pictures to over 1,100 in just three months.
On Instagram, where feeds are perpetually flooded with well-lit food tableaux and the pressure for perfection is immense, it’s rare to see ordinary, fat women eating food in all its caloric glory. Tucker says she regularly receives messages from people saying they want to post pictures but don’t feel ready.
The photos are sparking a discussion about who gets to eat in public, and why. Rumsey searched women eating food online and found a bounty of stock photos—all of thin, mostly white women delicately nibbling on salads. Rumsey searched “women eating food” and a couple of variations of that on Instagram and found a scant three photos. (#womeneatingbananas came up with hundreds of posts, though.)
“I wanted a place where you could see real women eating without apology, without talking about how good or bad they were being,” Rumsey told The Daily Beast.
And the movement has gone worldwide: The language of the captions changes from English to Finnish to Portuguese. Lots of the captions are long, with statements about who inspired them to post the pictures. One woman grins, a pile of ramen cascading from her mouth. #sorrynotsorry, her hashtag reads.
The comments often include applause emojis. The women are often thanked for posting. Lots of people write ‘yum!’ It’s surprisingly wholesome, with not a troll in sight.
“You guys! I ate a donut! And I don’t feel bad about it all!” posted one woman. “So happy for you,” responded another.
Research contact: @thedailybeast