Food-Shaming Is The New Fat-Shaming

No, I don't think I should "cut this cinnamon roll in half." I just wanna eat my damn giant cinnamon roll!
Publish date:
February 1, 2012
food, body image, fat shaming, eating, food shaming

Just kidding, fat-shaming is still alive and well. But there's a kind of fat-shaming I've been noticing lately that you don't even have to be fat to enjoy! It's food shaming ...

That is, commenting, positively or negatively, on what someone else is eating.

An example: What you see in the photo above is one of my greatest, infrequent pleasures in life: a cinnamon roll from an NYC coffee cart. These are standard issue cinnamon rolls -- soft, moist, caked with sugar and the size of your head; identical versions are sold at coffee carts all around the city.

It's the kind of cinnamon roll that I like to eat in the privacy of my own office with the door shut, because just by nature of its gargantuan deliciousness, it invites commentary. People express shock at the size of this cinnamon roll. They suggest I cut it in half or go on about how the idea of sugar in the morning just disgusts them.

After years of experience with this, I feel sadly compelled to provide a giant cinnamon roll disclaimer upon being caught with one by someone else.


Eating at the office in general can be a dangerous proposition for those of us who are sensitive about food and weight (aka practically everyone). This may be New York or media-industry specific, but I've long felt the presence of an unspoken law when it comes to what can be eaten in a communal workspace. Salads of course are always acceptable, although salads with things like fried chicken or bacon in them may solicit comments about how "sometimes you think you're being healthy eating a salad, but really it's 1,000 calories!" Sushi is a pretty safe bet, as is any kind of modest sandwich you brought from home.

But if I were to settle down for a workplace lunch of say, leftover fried chicken or steak, or even worse, come in clutching a bag from Wendys or McDonalds, you can bet everyone would have something to say about it.

The shame surrounding fast food in particular is so deep that if you even admit that you sometimes eat it outside of the office, people feel OK commenting about how disgusting it is and how they would never put that in their bodies. Same with "junk food" like Doritos -- I once got into a long argument with a (male) co-worker who insisted that the synthetic cheese chips were a revolting thing to consume, despite my cogent point that they have actually been engineered by science to be as delicious as possible.

Of course, it works both ways, and I'm guilty of food-shaming those who eat in an exceedingly healthful manner, just like I used to make fun of those level-headed folks who wanted to quit drinking and go home before 4 am. "Don't be an asshole!" I'll shout when one of my girlfriends orders mixed greens instead of a cheeseburger at girls' night dinner. What I really mean is,"Don't make me feel bad about ordering a cheeseburger," but that has everything to do with me and nothing to do with anyone else's food choices.

And this is a petty one, but nothing drives me crazier than when I'm in deep diet mode and some co-worker innocently comments on how good my microwaving Lean Cuisine smells. "IT'S NOT GOOD, IT'S DIET FOOD," I want to yell.

I'm starting to think that food should be like bodies, in that you just shouldn't comment at all on what someone else puts in their mouth.

Have you been food-shamed? Or am I just projecting my own weird food stuff onto other people?

Read more about delicious things I like to eat on Twitter @msemilymccombs.