Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

David Doran: Essay

Food is my Booty Call
David Doran

Throughout the movie Eating (1990),women at a birthday party demonstrate their strong feelings aboutfood and reflect on how food affects them. However, little considerationis paid to how the women affect their food. The food in the livesof these women is victimized in much the same way as an under-appreciated,under-acknowledged casual lover.

The women at the party use food as their scapegoat,neglecting, rejecting, using, and abusing it. From the perspectiveof the movie, food is at the heart of all the women’s problems.Weight problems are directly the fault of the food that is beingeaten instead of the people who are eating it. Foods containinggrease, sugar, or butter are especially to blame for causing weightgain. The demonstration of the blame on food is manifested whenit is time to have birthday cake, and one piece is passed aroundthe entire room. The deliberate neglect of the cake, despite thefact that the women want it, can be likened to a situation wherea woman is too embarrassed to acknowledge a casual lover withno commitment, in fear that she will be looked down upon. Foodalso takes blame for problems the women have with men. In oneinstance, a woman admits to her friend that she has an eatingdisorder and the only response is, “Oh, you must be havingproblems with Jim.” The woman is punishing the food for problemsshe has in her life.

To further show the lack of respect for food,the women, after denouncing the evils of eating, turn around andgo to food for comfort. One woman describes food as erotic, providingthe “safest sex” she can find. Most other women in themovie seem to use food as therapy, consoling them when life isbeing unfair. Problems in childhood used to be drowned in riversof chocolate and mashed potatoes. Food is also personified asthe best friend of one lady. It never talks back or argues withher. He is always in the refrigerator, waiting to soothe and comfort.

Due to the nature of the relationship the womenhave with their food, they feel obligated to keep the affair asecret. The only time we see anybody eating birthday cake is whenone woman is sitting on the stairs, stuffing her face, hidingthe evidence from the other women. During the videotaped interviews,one of the questions was, “Do you have a problem with food?”Repeatedly and without hesitation, the answer is “No.”The most telling line of the movie is when one woman speculatesthat food has replaced sex as women’s secret topic.

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