Feminist Dictionary: “Skinny” Food

Maybe you have noticed a pattern here on Feminist Dictionary, which is that I tend not to write about words that I don’t consider to have sexist or antiquated undertones in any way.

Well, today is not an exception. Man, do I hate this word.

I am referring to the instances where food bloggers, cooking websites, and fitness gurus dole out healthy recipes and label them “skinny.” Ordinarily these are recipes for food that is not usually considered health food – “skinny” mac and cheese made with butternut squash, “skinny” burgers made with beet patties, “skinny” chocolate chip cookies made with ground flax, almond flour, avocado, used band-aids, and a hint of self-loathing.

Oh, yeah, you totally would never know those were "healthy". Especially if you're an idiot.

Oh, yeah, you totally would never know those were “healthy”. Especially if you’re an idiot.

Skinny is a weird word to be associating with food. Here is the definition of “skinny” from the OED: “consisting of or resembling the skin.” Sounds totally sexy, right? I definitely want my food to resemble skin. Obviously, no one here is using the word to mean that, but what they actually mean is even weirder.

I mean, think about it: food itself is not skinny. With the possible exception of french fries, I can think of very few foods that are long and extremely narrow. They want you to understand that this food will make you skinny, but the syntax is all wrong. That would be like saying, “This icy rain is rather sniffly” or “this elementary school play is very asleep.”

So food not = skinny, food make you = skinny. Except that is such bullshit I can’t even shake a stick at it. My stick-shaking abilities have temporarily been rendered ineffective at the sheer mention of such stupidity. First of all, replacing your pasta with spaghetti squash will not automatically make you skinny. Losing weight is as much about portion size as it is about what exactly you are eating. You can replace your cheesecake with cashews if you really want to, or you could just not eat the whole damn cheesecake. The choice is yours, young Padawan.

But if you prefer your cheesecake full of pebbles, who am I to stop you.

But if you prefer your cheesecake full of pebbles, who am I to stop you.

I would much rather eat food that is actually healthful. This could be a whole other post, but fit is, in fact, the new skinny. Unless you have been working toward a career in the fashion industry, being skinny is starting to work its way out of being our culture’s one acceptable physique. Some people are skinny, and that is fine. Some people are fat, and that is also fine. I personally would rather have my muscles showing than my bones. Plus, recipes that advertise how “skinny” they are tend to be full of crazy ingredients that you have to go to special grocery stores for (what the hell is xylitol?). Sometimes these ingredients are full of even more chemicals than just eating the full-fat, high-calorie version. Considering these are the same people who recommend eating a clean, plant-based whole foods diet, I call hypocrisy.

Beware these Skinny Promises. They only lead to Skinny Sadness and Skinny Disappointment.

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