Throughout the movie Eating (1990),
women at a birthday party demonstrate their strong feelings about
food and reflect on how food affects them. However, little consideration
is paid to how the women affect their food. The food in the lives
of these women is victimized in much the same way as an
under-acknowledged casual lover.
The women at the party use food as their scapegoat,
neglecting, rejecting, using, and abusing it. From the perspective
of the movie, food is at the heart of all the women's problems.
Weight problems are directly the fault of the food that is being
eaten instead of the people who are eating it. Foods containing
grease, sugar, or butter are especially to blame for causing weight
gain. The demonstration of the blame on food is manifested when
it is time to have birthday cake, and one piece is passed around
the entire room. The deliberate neglect of the cake, despite the
fact that the women want it, can be likened to a situation where
a woman is too embarrassed to acknowledge a casual lover with
no commitment, in fear that she will be looked down upon. Food
also takes blame for problems the women have with men. In one
instance, a woman admits to her friend that she has an eating
disorder and the only response is, "Oh, you must be having
problems with Jim." The woman is punishing the food for problems
she has in her life.
To further show the lack of respect for food,
the women, after denouncing the evils of eating, turn around and
go to food for comfort. One woman describes food as erotic, providing
the "safest sex" she can find. Most other women in the
movie seem to use food as therapy, consoling them when life is
being unfair. Problems in childhood used to be drowned in rivers
of chocolate and mashed potatoes. Food is also personified as
the best friend of one lady. It never talks back or argues with
her. He is always in the refrigerator, waiting to soothe and comfort.
Due to the nature of the relationship the women have with their food, they feel obligated to keep the affair a secret. The only time we see anybody eating birthday cake is when one woman is sitting on the stairs, stuffing her face, hiding the 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 speculates that food has replaced sex as women's secret topic.