Why Women Censor Their Appetites in Public

Social Commentary

Why Women Censor Their Appetites in Public

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander


here’s a scene in Ocean’s 8 that even months later, I find hard to get out of my mind. At a renowned diner in Manhattan’s East Village, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) takes her partner Lou (Cate Blanchett) through her very ambitious heist plan while eating lunch. Debbie’s sentences are dotted with generous spoonfuls – she eats from several plates of food while she talks and in some moments, just focuses on her crispy latkes. The scene ends with Debbie feeding Lou. It’s a banal exchange where nothing exciting unfolds and yet feels so invigorating, mostly because it’s one of those rare times where two women are actually eating on screen. Without any fuss or judgement.

You see, over the years, pop-culture has routinely fed us that women only like to be around food but never get hungry. And if they sit with a tubful of ice cream or are surrounded by chocolate wrappers, it’s only because they are going through a heartbreak or a crisis. Our films and books shy away from acknowledging the appetite of women, always implying that their hunger can be satiated with a few modest bites or an Instagrammable salad.