On Instagram, there's no dearth of photos of attractive food bloggers gracefully holding delicious-looking treats. But there's usually one crucial element that's missing from these photos: people actually eating. This is something that irks Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS, a registered dietitian and intuitive eating coach. "We never see women just eating without any explanation, or any justification, or anything like that," she says.
So, Rumsey and fellow intuitive eating coach Linda Tucker, decided to start the Instagram hashtag, #WomenEatingFood, for people to share photos of themselves eating real, messy, diverse foods, without having to explain why they were eating it. In a sense, it's the antidote to the depressing and often-memed "woman laughing alone with salad" stock image. When she started the hashtag two weeks ago there were only three photos tagged, and now there are over 350 posts of various female-identifying people noshing on their favorite foods.
But this hashtag is much bigger than just funny photos of big sandwiches; it's also an opportunity to address representation. The majority of images that people see in media are of thin, generally white women — despite the fact that 67% of women in the United States are sizes 14 and up. When it comes to images of women eating food, the message this essentially sends is that it's okay to eat if you're thin, "but we’re not seeing people in bigger bodies just eat and enjoy food," Rumsey says. A lot of this has to do with size privilege.
Given the way society acts towards people with bigger bodies, it may seem easier for someone with a smaller body to post a photo eating, which Rumsey fully acknowledges. "That's what comes with thin privilege: you don't have to worry as much about blowback, [or what] people are going to say or comment to you, than people in larger bodies," she says. She hopes that this hashtag helps normalizes all types of bodies eating. Already, it seems to have had impact: several people have told Rumsey that seeing images of women actually eating in a sea of influencers and detoxes has been a comforting change.
To see for yourself, here are some #WomenEatingFood photos that will hopefully inspire you to share your own — or, at the very least, empower you the next time you take a big bite of something you love.