#GirlswithGluten doesn’t celebrate women’s love of snacks, it celebrates impossible ideals

The kids internet tells me the new hip hot cool Instagram account is “Girls with Gluten,” an entire account devoted to sharing images of women “eating” food items that include carbs. There are photos of Reese Witherspoon and Sophia Vergara pretending to eat donuts, some MAW named Brooke Evers holding a burger, a woman holding a baguette next to her calf to show what a fun and goofy lady she is living and loving life with bread and legs, a sexy lady in her underwear (who appears to have made a career of wearing underwear) touching a piece of pizza with her fingers, a model with a bad case of croissant-eye, and about a zillion more photos, mostly of twenty-somethings posing near boxes of pizza, holding donuts, flirting with burgers, or sexily eating pasta in bed, as we do.

Girl opens wide for gluten @sofiavergara @reesewitherspoon #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Girl caught with her hand in the gluten box @_martha_rose_ #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Girl, gluten goes in your mouth @hoskelsa #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Girl has gluten pins @sevenupp #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Girl hates waiting on gluten @brookeevers #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Now, I really am a big fan of carbs. I eat them every day! Often with cheese. The idea of cutting bread or pizza out of my life makes me sad and while I can’t pretend as though I don’t pay attention to what I eat (do people really eat as many donuts as Instagram says they do? Because I eat a donut maybe once a year…), frankly, I just don’t care enough about my weight to cut wonderful, marvellous bread out of my life. But while The Daily Mail proclaims, “Girls with Gluten posts photo after carb-loving photo of young women enjoying a variety of unhealthy delights such as pizza, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and pasta,” as a true carb-lover, I read it very differently.

This “Girls with Gluten” account strikes me as decidedly anti-eating-gluten. Rather than convince women to eat pizza for pizza’s sake, all it serves to do is remind us that, 1) Women are supposed to look sexy at every waking moment, including while they provide their bodies with sustenance, and 2) Women are always supposed to be obsessing over what they eat, whether it’s in an attempt to prove they do, in fact, eat, or the other way around.

Girl puts on gluten lip gloss @ahhhlisiadoe #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

If it truly was a pro-eating-food account, I feel that there would be more normal-looking people eating food looking like how normal people look when they eat food, that is to say, not by balancing it on their butts first.

Girl balances gluten buns. @santiagopgm #girlswithgluten #nationaldonutday

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Why is it that men don’t feel the need to photograph themselves eating all the time? Why is there no “Boys with Gluten*” Instagram account? Why do we always have to do everything in our underwear and why does that underwear not look at all like the actual underwear we wear while eating pizza in our apartments? (That is to say, the private inside underwear. Also known as period underwear. Also known as sleeping underwear. Also known as the loosest underwear we have, preferably the no-elastic underwear we’ve had for ten+ years underwear. Nobody sits around in their good underwear alone in their living rooms eating pizza. What a waste of good underwear.)

As discussed previously, it’s highly unlikely any of these sexy donut-loving ladies actually eat donuts, but even if they did happen to indulge once in a while, the need to document this consumption tells us so much about the purpose of this indulgence — i.e., that the purpose isn’t, in fact, to indulge. A writer for Medium intros their “Girls Standing Near or Pretending to Eat Gluten” [title altered slightly by author] piece with the line, “Girls can have their cake and eat it too,” going on to describe the account as “an Instagram featuring a combination of celebrities and regular snack lovers posing with delicious foods rich in gluten and grease.” BUT NONE OF THESE PEOPLE ARE SNACK LOVERS, YOU SICKO! People who love snacks eat snacks. They don’t pose next to snacks in tiny underwear. A better way to describe this account might be, “Women are aware that cake exists and sometimes are near cake, as documented here. Cake can create a fun atmosphere that may convince strangers you enjoy fun and atmospheres that are fun.”

The Hairpin calls these kinds of photos “snackwave,” a term coined “to describe the current Internet phenomenon of young women and teenage girls expressing an obsession with snack foods.” This “snackwave” trend, they say, is a way to reject the way that “health food culture [serves as] a thinly disguised way of policing women’s bodies.”

Rather than celebrate not eating at all, health food culture suggests that women embrace a #yesfilter view of salads and yogurt; staying thin and taking to their social media to express their enthusiasm over their choices.

In a way, snackwave is a protest against this mindset. Snackwave is about taking pleasure in foods that are deemed off-limits for women who want to stay thin and traditionally attractive. Food becomes cartoonish and goofy, rather than a constant test of whether or not you’re treating your body the way the world (i.e. menz) wants you too.

Like, I guess… Except that if this really were an IDGAF I-eat-what-I-want-fuck-yeah trend, why must it be documented publicly, next to boobs and tiny waists? And why is that lady eating pizza in a bikini on a fire hydrant? Surely there are more comfortable and practical ways to eat pizza?

Girl trades clothes for gluten. #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

And also, why any of it?? Why is it women that must make a eating a “trend?” Shouldn’t eating food be more about eating food than taking photos of food we might like to eat or might like others to think we eat? It’s all weird. And stupid. And symptomatic of the way in which women and girls learn to obsess over their weight and their bodies, in general.

Yes, the struggle is real. The struggle is real because you can’t just enjoy food without making sure the entire world knows you eat food and without trying to look fuckable while staring at fries — fries that you probably didn’t even eat, you food-wasting poseur. Also, like, eat, don’t eat, diet, don’t diet, stand near pizza or don’t. Nobody reeeeally cares. These kinds of accounts and images don’t serve to encourage the free-wheeling enjoyment of food, they just reinforce ideals that are impossible to achieve for most women and teach us to fixate even more on food and eating than we already do.

Girl struggles to eat gluten slowly @sarahstage #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on


*There actually is a Boys with Gluten Instagram account, but it has 155 followers and, to-date, has not been covered by The Daily Mail because no one cares what men eat.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.