"One could argue that they're fostering an unhealthy relationship with food, making light of unhealthy emotional binging, and even fostering a perverse kind of thinspiration that suggests one can eat horribly and still meet Hollywood's ideals - but the notion that these actresses actually eat this way is so implausible that it's more an exercise in the grotesque than anything."
(Jezebel.com article - Type Casting: The Skinny Glutton)
Jezebel.com recently put up a great article on the Skinny Glutton phenomenon. The example they most focused on was that of Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, but since I don't really follow the show much (although perhaps I will eventually netflix it and/or surfthechannel.com it), I thought i'd try to focus my commentary about the article around two of my favorite television characters: Lorelai and Rory Gilmore.
As a huge, HUGE fan of the Gilmore Girls, I am not without my complaints about certain unrealities that the show portrays. Sure, it's a fictional show in a mostly fictional town about fictional people. But there are no flying cars or time travel or monsters from another planet, so it's safe to say that the writers were going for a bit of realism. If you've ever even watched one episode, you'll notice that the Gilmore leading ladies spend practically every morning at Luke's Diner. A diner at which they eat nothing but burgers, chili cheese fries, eggs with bacon, pancakes, and of course, enormous amounts of coffee, complete with cream and sugar of course (at least, so I imagine since you never actually see them add any to their cups.)
Now, unless Luke is the world's best health-conscious chef, there is a good chance he isn't cooking low-fat/fat-free meals here. And then you have the movie nights. I admit that while the show was still going on, I would gather up an endless amount of junky snack foods as I plopped myself down in front of the TV set waiting for the newest episode to begin. The girls will have an amazing buffet set out before them, complete with chinese food cartons, pizza, fries, popcorn, danishes, chips, the list goes on. And yet, never do you see them work out. There are maybe 2 episodes in the entire 7 seasons where they briefly mention the idea of possibly working out (one in which Lorelai and Rory have a failed attempt at playing raquet ball and another in which they visit a gym in Cape Cod resulting in them receiving massages from a random pair of guys instead.) The girls scoff when Dean brings over a salad in addition to their pizza one night, wondering what he could possibly expect them to do with it. They joke about how they don't enjoy fruits or vegetables (Lorelai even thinks she might be pregnant in one episode because she craves an apple which she would normally never think of eating!)
And yet... Lorelai and Rory both appear to be a size 2 (or smaller.) How do they do it? I tried, in my mind, to figure this out. Maybe its all the coffee, I thought. But then if they drank that much coffee, wouldn't their teeth have yellowish stains by now? They're active, but nowhere near active enough to burn off all the fat and calories from their 4,000+ calorie meals. And to be honest, it's just damn frustrating.
Like the Jezebel article mentions, the women of these shows engorge themselves with food, and it's just not healthy. I wouldn't normally insult the Gilmore Girls (hell, this is one of the few faults I can find in the show), but I do think that while perhaps their intention is good, the followthrough is not. The way I see it, it could very well have been the idea of Amy Sherman Palladino to show women who aren't constantly counting calories and jumping on the treadmill and feeling guilty for having a slice of pizza here and there. I think that maybe she was trying to create a show in which young girls and even older women would be able to live without these hangups of being exceptionally thin and pretty and having to diet and "look good." I've appluaded the Gilmore Girls in the past for being a pretty untraditional show, inspiring young women to go for their dreams instead of putting them aside, to push themselves to do great things and not settle with what they've got. Rory Gilmore was (believe it or not) an inspiration for me to go back to school and do well. And should I ever have children, I know i'll be watching the show again for mom-advice from Lorelai. But this thing... this thing about food. What is with this bizarre trend?
The only character on Gilmore that seems to be in any way health conscious is Michel, who seems to obsessively count calories (going so far as to count the blueberries in a whole wheat, low fat pancake Sookie makes him in one episode.) Everyone makes fun of him. They tell him to relax. But as far as diet is concerned, Michel seems to be the only character who might live to 50 without suffering some sort of cholesterol induced heart attack, yet he is ostracized for being concerned about how he eats.
I'm not saying that writers should creating characters who have a healthy (or beyond) appetite. But make them look the part. Lorelai and Rory would weigh at LEAST 20-30lbs more than they do, their complexion probably wouldn't be as nice, and despite the coffee, they probably wouldn't have as much energy. Or, if you want them to be that thin, show them eating salads and fruits and lean proteins and healthy fats like avocados and nuts. Because while I'm no longer 15 years old and as susceptible to falling for the "eat anything you want and don't gain a pound" faux diet, many girls (and boys) might think that this is somehow true. Healthy eating habits start in the home, but that's also where our TV is.