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guest post: nicole trilivas, girls with good appetites (the connection between food and sex)

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl, Kate Upton is the newest bombshell to devour a burger by American fast food chain Carl’s Jr. in their not-safe-for-TV advertising campaign, which has previously featured Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and (the ever-so-slightly more appropriate) Padma Lakshmi of US version of the competitive food show, “Top Chef.”

The commercial is as much about burgers as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is about swimsuits (which is to say, not at all). Instead, it’s all about the sex appeal. It would be so refreshing to see a woman enjoying food without the palpable sexual innuendos.

You really don’t have to try so hard, Carl’s Jr.: it’s pretty noticeable that food can be sensual. Foods evoke sex and sexual organs in shape, taste, and smell [i.e. oysters, durians, truffles (and some of these examples double as aphrodisiacs)].

Italian director Federico Fellini was attributed with saying: “Never trust a woman who doesn’t like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed.”

Why is a good appetite viewed as sexy? We talk about food with religious diction. It’s divided into bad and good: you are tempted, or guilty for indulging; chocolaty desserts are so good they’re “sinful;” etc. Is it sexy when a woman “indulges” because she is doing something she’s not supposed to, because she’s being naughty?

While researching this piece, Google inevitably kept plucking up websites on appetite suppressants, thereby showcasing that a woman’s appetite is often greatly overshadowed by means to restrain and contain it.

As a woman, I think it’s healthy to see girls with robust appetites (even for sometimes unhealthy food). That’s why so many people adored the Italy (a.k.a “eat”) section of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and why this meme was reposted on Facebook thousands of times. We like to see a woman enjoying herself, allowing herself pleasure, not withholding or depriving herself. And all of these turn-of-phrases could double, and reign-true in sex-speak.

But it’s not this single-faceted: If Kate Upton wasn’t a supermodel, and instead was overweight or obese, there would be a fat shaming reaction. On the other hand, because she is a supermodel the commercial’s comments sections are speckled with quasi-jokes and remarks about bulimia. It goes to show that a woman’s appetite may be sexy, but not without terms and conditions.

This was a guest post by the Nicole Trilivas, author of one of lip’s more recent favourite books, Pretty Girls Make Graves. You can read out interview with Nicole here, purchase her book here (please do!), and visit her blog to read more of her musings. 


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