I didn't think MeMe Roth could get any worse. I really truly didn't. This is, after all, a woman who threw away children's ice cream toppings. But besides the alarming visual similarities to conservative shrill Ann Coulter, MeMe Roth now has a bunch more verbal ammunition to make the similarities known.
This little piece in Jezebel (h/t Libby) absolutely blew me over: Anti-Obesity Activist MeMe Roth Compares Eating to Rape
The defense has been made in the case of sex criminals that there is pleasure on the part of the victim. The same is true with what we're doing with food. We may abuse our bodies with food, but it's incredibly pleasurable. From a food marketer's point of view, when your quote unquote victim is so willing and enjoying of the process, who's fighting back?
Yes, you read it right. When a fat person eats, Roth thinks they are effectively raping themselves. So if I tell her go to f*ck herself, is that like asking her to lick her elbow?
The Jezebel piece is actually an excerpt from an article in the British newspaper The Guardian titled "The Woman Who Hates Food," which I think is an interesting choice of headlines. I don't know if Roth hates food, but she does hate people who eat food. Which is basically everyone, including (considering she's still alive) herself.
Though Roth protests she's never been anorexic, she has some decidedly unhealthy attitudes toward food. She insisted on meeting interviewer Gabby Wood "after lunch," whereupon the following dialogue ensued after Wood asked Roth what she actually ate:
In the end, Anna N* at Jezebel says it best in her article:
She squirms visibly. "You're taking me where I don't want to go ... What works for me doesn't work for a lot of people."
Well, you've said that, I insist, so taking that into account: lunch? Roth hesitates. "I discovered when I was in college that I work best when I get a workout in and eat after that. Sometimes I'll delay when I eat until I get a workout in. But I don't let a whole day go by without running four miles."
OK, I go on, but supposing you couldn't work out until four o'clock in the afternoon - would you not eat until after that?
I look at my watch. It's 3.30pm. Alarm bells start to ring in my head. How about today, I ask. Have you eaten at all today?
Roth is a little quiet.
"No," she says.
There is a pause.
"But I feel great!"
Roth may not be anorexic, and she may not think of what she does as dieting, but if "what works for her" is not eating anything until after 3:30, she's right that it's not going to work for most people. Nor should it. To liken the pleasure one gets from food to something as toxic as sexual assault isn't just illogical and insensitive — it also demonizes something that nourishes, brings people together, and produces some of the greatest and most uncomplicated joy in life. Rather than accept food for what it is — something that, like many good things, is wonderful in moderation and problematic in excess — Roth wants people to think of it as some kind of evil rapist who will make us fat and therefore shameful. It's a judgmental, unhealthy, and ultimately unsustainable way to live.
*Who linked to my piece on Daphne Merkin's story on depression last week and sent about a bazillion people my way- thanks!