Barbie, eat a sandwich

Via Broadsheet.

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  • i_muse

    “Suck my clit”, a song title from my band, when I was 16.
    I get what it is to be punk, at least what it was in the late 70’s early 80’s.
    I also get that being a feminist means questioning statements like that and the effect of statements like that. To continue pointing out the youth of these punkers or rockers as an excuse is ageist.
    They are old enough to understand that statement sounds like something the mean girls would say to the girl they accused of being anorexic. It doesn’t sound punk rock to me.
    thanks for trying to school me though
    ; )
    “The people have the power”, Patti Smith

  • paper tiger

    Allegra: Also, as another respondent noted, let’s be honest, please: thin women, even “skinny” women, do not face HALF the harassment or general disdain in this society that overweight women face. Sorry.
    But surely that does not cancel out the pain slim women feel when we are told to ‘fatten up’ – something I have experienced a lot.
    Thin women *do* have a privilege over larger women, one that I have only become aware of after reading the comments on this post!
    So by making us aware of this privilege, some of you are trying to put this song into context, that the girls from the band tried to say ‘being big is ok’ in a very roundabout way. It stinks of naivety, even if the sentiment is well meaning.
    What will their next song be called?
    ‘Barbie, learn to cook’
    ‘Barbie, get a well paid career in a male dominated industry’
    ‘Barbie, stop wearing high heels’
    Pattern = one choice good, other bad.
    Not sure if the band claimed to be feminist, but if they did they got it wrong in my opinion, because if feminism ever becomes a battle of one choice versus another, I’m out.

  • Brittany

    I don’t really like how people assume that if you call a woman out, it’s not feminism. I imagine a real-life Barbie would be damaging (and since they exist, is damaging) to peoples’ view of women.
    “Math is hard, I love shopping!” And her extremely skinny figure and obsession with fashion with no care to education is harmful. Barbie is shallow, and so is the epidemic of young teenage girls that think they can’t amount to anything but their looks.
    I don’t think people realize that we’re asking a DOLL to eat a sandwich, not a real life woman. I really don’t think she has high metabolism…like many young women that look like her, it’s more than likely an eating disorder. Do you EVER see her eating? It’s not like she eats alot and stays skinny.
    Like I said, we just want Barbies that represent all shapes and sizes, not the tall, blonde girl that hasn’t picked up a book in her life.
    With that said, I love Care Bears on Fire!
    Thanks for posting this, Jessica, rock on!

  • Brittany

    Thanks for saying that.
    I’ve grown up overweight my entire life, and had to be taken out of school because of the emotional/physical trauma I faced on a daily basis. Growing up outside of school, I never went outside because I was stared at and even MOCKED by teenage guys every time I did. I’m so used to not being looked at as a woman because I’m overweight, and if I am it’s by some sort of fetishist who likes me for just my body. All over television it’s “Ooohhh Tyra/insert celebrity here gained five pounds, LOOK AT THE FLAB”. “Tired of being fat? Lose those nasty pounds of belly fat.”
    I think I could feel good about myself, because I LOVE myself, fat and all, if I wasn’t forced to endure such torment on a daily basis.
    So no, skinny women don’t endure half that scrutiny. Having to hear “Do you eat” once in a while but generally admired is nothing compared to the hell that some overweight girls have to go through, not to mention not being looked at by anyone in a positive light.
    I’d say that anorexic girls also endured hell, but that seems to be changing with our obsession with the ribcage being visible in order for women to look pretty…compare our idea of beauty now to the idea of beauty 100 or even 50 years ago.
    We’re heading in a dangerous direction.

  • theletterc

    So young girls with eating disorders see Barbie as a fellow sufferer? I’m a bit confused about all the hate here. Even though the particular phrase “eat a sandwich” is hurtful in certain contexts, I think the OVERALL message that these girls are trying to express (which I interpreted as a big F*ck you to our cultures obsession with what is for most people an unhealthy state) is very admirable. I think we should be giving these girls encouragement (albeit with a dose of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism) to question and challenge the standards of the “ideal” woman.

  • April

    my boyfriend is also “skinny,” and feels such pressure to be bulkier and weigh more that it will literally throw him into a spiral of depression when someone makes a light-hearted remark about how “bony” or “scrawny” he is.
    Unrealistic physical expectations harm everyone, male and female.
    On the other hand, it seems like this video/song is just a response to the ridiculous conclusion that Mattell made that Barbie has “cankles.” Although, I could only get through about 15 seconds of that video because I utterly loathe that kind of music. So I could be wrong…

  • chechelle

    My biggest pet peeve is when people say something to the effect of “no MY problems are worse b/c of X.” (For example: oh your dog died? well my aunt died so you should feel bad for me b/c that’s so much worse.)
    If you grew up overweight all your life you have absolutely no idea what it’s like to grow up skinny and what kinds of things skinny people had to endure. Likewise people who grew up skinny have no idea what it’s like to grow up overweight and endure all of things they had to endure.
    Why can’t we just support each other? Let’s sympathize with the pain others had to endure and help each other establish a healthy self esteem. Saying “no I had worse than you” helps no one and just adds fuel to the fire.

  • alixana

    I’d say that anorexic girls also endured hell, but that seems to be changing with our obsession with the ribcage being visible in order for women to look pretty…
    I’m going to be charitable and assume you worded that poorly. Surely you wouldn’t be suggesting that anorexic people (who have, you know, an illness that is difficult to recover from), will not be enduring hell due to visible ribcages being the beauty standard.
    Look, this isn’t about holding up two groups, determining which one faces more harm at the hands of society’s body standards, and then concluding it’s okay to snark on the other. It’s not okay to snark on either group! We get snarked on because we’re women and our bodies are deemed appropriate for public shaming. Condoning it for one group won’t lead to liberating the other.

  • Surreal

    I don’t think one type of woman has more privilege than another type of woman.
    Thin women? Scorned and told to eat a sandwich.
    Overweight women? Scorned and told not to eat.
    Not-overweight/not-underweight? Having your weight scrutinized so you don’t gain or lose any pounds.
    Not pretty enough? Told to modify your appearance to meet the “minimum standard” of beauty.
    Very conventionally pretty? You are a vain, shallow bitch with no brains.
    Too young? Dress and act older than you are.
    Too old? Get surgery and dress, act younger, lie about your age.
    The list goes on forever. If you’re a woman, you’re screwed no matter how you look.

  • Steph

    I understand the feelings of many people that have commented so far: it is not OK to assume that a really skinny woman is starving herself.
    However, I think its important to look at where that criticism comes from. I think it comes from a fear of being fat. So this means skinny is not demonized in quite the say way that fat is; skinny is bad in some cases out of some spite or jealously that one person can conform to the ideal. Still of course, unfair, but I think different situations.
    I just want to point this out to say that, of course, women of all sizes face criticism because of their bodies – there is NO question about that.
    But I think this song is still OK in some ways, because its critiquing the whole package of the ideal, not necessarily just the thin part. Plus, I think anyway its looked at, girls face much more bullying, etc for being fat than for being thin, both in amount and in scope.
    But this is my MAIN point: although sticking to one phrase “eat a sandwich” ignores some of the larger issues women with disordered eating have with their bodies, I still think it gets at a really interesting point: a lot of women do restrict their eating – or feel bad when they don’t. And the fact that 14 year old girls are recognizing THAT is, I think, really important. And think about it from the standpoint of a 14 year old girl: are you going to listen to some sappy serenade about how to love and accept your body for what it is? Or are you going to prefer some bad-ass sounding song that calls out Barbie for being too skinny to survive and for restricting her eating? Sure, it’s not perfect, but I think it’s main point is what really gets across – that too many women obsesses about food and their bodies, that too many women restrict their intake to conform to an ideal. An ideal that is so much more than body size, but that plays out in really frightening ways on women’s bodies.
    Again, I recognize how painful some skinny women’s experiences have been, and I don’t want to negate anyone’s experiences. BUT I think the song really hits home for many many many young women who are or know someone so is struggling with their body and restricting or thinking about restricting their food intake as a result.
    It’s a huge problem, and yeah, I am glad to see these girls taking it on in a way that will actually get other girls their age listening!

  • syndella

    I’m pretty sure petty fights like this is why everyone accuses feminists of not having a sense of humor.

  • allegra

    Oops, sorry, not attorney general, surgeon general.
    Yes, we’re not “forgetting about” the thin women. It’s not OK to have anyone dictate to you what you should or should not eat based on judgments about body shape. But still, again, as another respondent also mentioned, all these “but what about us thin-but-still-privileged folks … ” protestations sound so much like “what about teh menz?” “what about us nice white ladiez?” “we need to turn the conversation back us thin ladiez”
    YES, WE GET IT. We’re not attacking skinny women. But I don’t know how anyone can really argue that the representation of skinny/thin women in our culture is proportionate with reality (it’s TOTALLY disproportionate – plus-size women might as well be invisible in the media), or that thin women are somehow not privileged over fat women. Yes, all women get similar media messages encouraging self-hatred. But you can’t tell me that there’s no difference between moving about in the world as a skinny woman and moving about in the world as a fat woman. Fat women are more hated than fat men: ,,2933,513549,00.html . Obese girls are less likely to go to college: . These things happen to fat women, and they are MORE DAMAGING IN MORE WAYS than just being teased by your acquaintances to “eat a sandwich.”

  • octavia

    While the overall message of this might be against the culture that Barbie represents (which is ok), the title phrase “eat a sandwich” is offensive. I was the “too thin” girl in high school not all that long ago, and “eat a sandwich” is not usually spoken in a kind way from teenage girls.
    No Barbie is not a real person. I get that. But that doesn’t mean that girls who are skinny and get teased, or girls with eating disorders that they are ashamed of, won’t feel hurt. When it’s the other way around and an overweight person is being made fun of in a movie etc., no one is coming to the conclusion that it’s ok because the overweight woman isn’t real.
    I also understand that overweight women have it waaaay harder than the underweight ones. Absolutely, no argument. But I DON’T understand how that makes it ok to torment the underweight folks. It actually *is* hurtful to come here, a place that makes such tremendous effort to be a safe place for women, and see the phrase “eat a sandwich.” I heard this shit all the time in high school and college and it IS offensive whether anyone likes that or not.
    And let’s not pretend that these girls don’t understand why this would be hurtful because they are only 14. 14 is plenty old enough to know that this phrase can be hurtful – in fact, I bet 14 year old girls know better than anyone else that this is often meant in hurtful way. Not to mention, I just plain hate it when people infantilize teens. Yes teenagers still have a lot to learn, but they also have a lot of responsibility. They are making decisions about sex and all kind of social relationships, they are starting to think about politics, doing all kinds of things without adult supervision. They are plenty old enough to understand why something might be hurtful. If young teens were making a song making fun of fat people I seriously doubt anyone here would say “oh come on! They’re just 13/14!”

  • wax_ghost

    High five! It’s not about skinny girls vs. fat girls – we all have to tell each other that we’re beautiful no matter what size we are and stop caring about how much we eat.

  • Alessa

    It’s not “telling someone with an eating disorder to eat a sandwich”, it’s “telling people to stop telling other people to not put ridiculous expectations on weight”.
    Am I seriously the only one here who sees that these are fourteen year old girls actively trying to make a comment on body expectations? Are you HONESTLY going to shoot them down because it’s not perfectly politically correct?
    I think it’s abundantly obvious to anyone with any shred of a mind that telling people to eat isn’t the best action, but the fact that these girls are getting up and making a statement about body expectation is outstanding, and I am completely unapologetic in applauding them for it. You can make as many sarcastic comments about it as you like.

  • Lilith Luffles

    Damn kids and their Rock n’ Roll.
    lol… Sorry, just kidding. I thought this post could use some lightheartedness.

  • Sara

    I clicked into these comments with trepidation, hoping that people would understand why this is problematic but unsure if they would. I’m glad that so many people recognize how blatantly offensive the phrase “eat a sandwich!” is–just as bad as “put the sandwich down!”
    Unsolicited comments about one’s weight are not appreciated by anyone, whether they’re thin or overweight, and frankly, I don’t think the arguments “they’re just 14″ and “it’s being said to a doll” hold much water. It’s still perpetuating the language, and that is not cool. I’m all for teenage activism, and this comes from a good place, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t acknowledge that there are much better ways to go about it.

  • a.k.a. Ninapendamaishi

    “Our culture LOATHES and SHAMES and TORMENTS fat women, and glorifies thin women.”
    That depends, very much, on who in our culture you’re talking about.
    I am a skinny woman. I was loathed and shamed and tormented by boys in junior high, as being too “manly” due in large part to having a flat-ish chest (my sister who is built on a similar frame but with smaller hips and a huge chest, received no such negative treatment).
    However, my shape was glorified by the older ladies in my life.
    These trends have continued, to less extreme extents, in my experiences as an adult woman. I don’t think I have ever heard a guy my age express a preference for skinny women, but I have heard many, many guys my age say they like curvy women or make fun of skinny women.
    So it’s been a mixed bag, at the most.
    If anything, I think women who are CURVY and AVERAGE have it easiest overall these days…

  • a.k.a. Ninapendamaishi

    When critiquing cultural and media ideals of body image, I think boiling it down to an issue of weight is really a gross oversimplification, and maybe something that got started originally in popular dialogue because it is actually one of the few things look-wise that most women have some control over.
    When it comes to physical factors that affect how people actually treat you, I think body /shape/ and facial appearance play a far larger role than weight, and both of those things are primarily genetic.

  • wax_ghost

    “But I don’t know how anyone can really argue that the representation of skinny/thin women in our culture is proportionate with reality (it’s TOTALLY disproportionate – plus-size women might as well be invisible in the media), or that thin women are somehow not privileged over fat women. Yes, all women get similar media messages encouraging self-hatred. But you can’t tell me that there’s no difference between moving about in the world as a skinny woman and moving about in the world as a fat woman. Fat women are more hated than fat men: ,,2933,513549,00.html . Obese girls are less likely to go to college: . These things happen to fat women, and they are MORE DAMAGING IN MORE WAYS than just being teased by your acquaintances to “eat a sandwich.””
    Um, no one has, that I have seen.
    Just because people sometimes talk about the ways they are hurt by society does not mean they are saying that they are more hurt by it than anyone else.

  • wax_ghost

    I think you’ve got it a little mixed up. There is a big difference between someone telling you to eat a sandwich because they are jealous of the way you look, and someone telling you to eat a sandwich because you are too skinny for their standards. The first is definitely about jealousy over size but the latter is about people thinking that they have a right to tell a woman what she can and should do with her body. The latter is the one that is being used in this song (because clearly these girls are not jealous of Barbie’s looks, which is totally freaking awesome), hence the outcry against it.

  • wax_ghost

    Yeah, what octavia said.

  • Brittany

    Yes, I worded that poorly, as so often happens in my case.
    By “enduring hell” I meant from other people, not within. Of course anyone with an eating disorder suffers in terrible ways.

  • Nepenthe

    This is ridiculous. Every time weight comes up in this community, the concerns of fat women are ignored in order to talk about how bad thin women have it. It’s as if every time race came up, we had to have a discussion about how white people aren’t considered to have “culture”, or if every time sexual orientation came up we had a talk about how straight people are alienated by images of gay people in the media. There is such a thing as “thin privilege” and there is a hierarchy between women who are considered attractive (read “thin”) and women who are not.
    Because of the nature of my eating disorder, I’ve been thin, very fat and in between. The difference? When a woman is thin, they are treated more like a human being than a fat woman.

  • kungfulola

    There is no such thing as “fat privilege”. It is impossible that thinness invites as much scorn and hatred as fatness in women.
    Policing women’s bodies is always a bad thing, but everyone who thinks that it happens equally on both sides needs to read this post.

  • Icca

    Is there a transcript for this anywhere?

  • Sloppy Sandwich

    I don’t think it betrays a lack of a sense of humor.
    What bothers me is the inability to agree on anything and the complete willingness to debate to death the most minor failings of something I’d think most feminists would applaud: empowered teenage girls challenging unrealistic standards of beauty.

  • Edgy1004

    I agree, let’s talk about ableism. Eating disorders suck. I have only me a few american women that do not have a complex relationship with food ranging from I sometimes eat things and then feel guilty all the way to full blown anorexia, bulimia and food addiction. They all suck, and it is mean to dismiss anyones suffering but the comment was not defending the video it was saying that pretending that society treats thin women and fat women the same is not true. It all does come from the same place, a woman’s body is communal property, but our society certainly does value one body type other another and I don’t think we can pretend otherwise because it makes people with privilege feel bad.
    Please don’t feel bad voluptuouspanic. No one on this board want’s anyone to feel bad.
    This is a really hard discussion and one that Feministing has never done well. Because like all persecution discussion it starts with
    A: “I have it so bad” and then
    B: “Wait, I have it bad too.”
    A: “Yeah but not as bad as me”
    B: “yes-huh as bad as you.”
    C: “Well none of you have it as bad as me.”
    B: “We weren’t even talking about you.”
    C: “Well then how dare you not talk about my super important suffering.”
    A: “Can’t well all just agree that my suffering is the absolute worst”
    B&C: “NO!”
    D: “What about teh menz!”
    A,B &C: “TROLL!”
    All bow!

  • alice-paul

    “I don’t think one type of woman has more privilege than another type of woman.”
    Um, seriously? Wow. All women are suddenly equal now? Women who are white, straight, upper-class, abled, etc, don’t have privilege over other women? News to me!

  • faithdarwin

    Okay, I apologize. That statement was in bad taste.
    I guess what I meant was that I feel like Jessica posted this video because she thought it was something fun that would make us happy. Young women with feminist intentions writing their own songs and expressing their creativity in a male-dominated field — that’s something I fully support. I feel like there are times when it is appropriate, even imperative, to be critical of the messages we receive in society. When people make rape jokes is definitely one of those times. But when a group of 14-year-olds write a song and make a cool video with feminist intentions, even if they slightly miss the mark as far as fitting into our very specific standards of what is perfectly appropriate, that is the sort of occasion when we should express our feminist values by being supportive of other women. Being fourteen is hard enough already. I can see where it’s important to think critically about our culture and about the messages we receive from a feminist perspective, but at the same time I feel like sometimes we try and nitpick the bad things from something that’s really headed in the right direction. For me, feminism has helped me feel empowered about my identity and my body and my choices, and for me, this is the most important aspect of feminism. Certainly there are occasions when it’s more than appropriate to be critical, but when it comes to the creativity of fourteen year old girls, let’s try and be supportive. They’ll get to where we are as far as feminist critique eventually.

  • GrowingViolet

    I’d say that anorexic girls also endured hell, but that seems to be changing
    No, take it from me: a lifelong, misery-inducing, treatable-but-not-curable mental illness that’s stigmatized as the result of vanity or patriarchal brainwashing and tossed around as a punch line or an insult is still hell. Our society does not treat mental illness sufferers one iota better than it treats fat people, and some brands of feminism seem to take it as a point of pride to treat them worse.

  • wax_ghost

    Well, since all of my other comments seem to have been eaten, let me say this: nowhere in critiquing this song did anyone say that skinny women have it worse than fat women. No one even implied that. Just because some skinny women on this thread said that it is offensive to them does not mean it has the same impact on them as it would if a fat woman was told to “put down the sandwich” – and none of them claimed that it did. Sometimes groups with more privilege than another can be offended by something that effects both groups; that doesn’t automatically negate the more oppressed groups’ feelings. It would be nice if people stopped acting like it did and realized that we are all being screwed over by the same thing here.

  • allegra

    Wow, thanks for linking to that post.

  • earwicga

    I don’t see this thread as “petty fights”. It is an open and frank discussion of feminist issues. Why would you think feminists are a homogeneous group and all identified feminists think the same?
    The discussion comes from a vast variety of feminists and it is instructive to read it to learn from opposing views to the ones we ourselves hold – either intentionally thought out views or just because they have evolved through our experiences and have never been challenged in any way.
    Just for the record, I’ve never heard the phrase ‘eat a sandwich’ but then I’m not particularly thin (or particularly large – in my mind my body is of an average shape and size and serves me well) so perhaps that’s why I’ve not heard it, so I have learnt that it is often used as an insult.

  • j_hell

    I think the song ROCKS and is a nice big f-you to the ridiculous beauty standards that these 14 year old girls are constantly bombarded with in magazines such as Cosmo, Seventeen, etc.
    These are three awesome chicks. Props.

  • Shannon

    I don’t think this is intended for people with eating disorders. I know many women who pay into weight watchers, jenny craig, or basic calorie counting and would choose a lunch of an apple and a sald every single day to avoid putting on a pound. They make this choice in order to remain thin, or lose weight, because eating a sandwich is too many points/calories etc. and the beauty standards of our society leave many to believe that if you just ‘put down the sandwich’ and go for a run, then you’ll fit in.
    I dig it and give these bad-ass women props for taking a stance against Barbie- and it is just that- a big fuck you to the DOLL and the horrific standards of beauty that the doll symbolizes.

  • Shannon

    I find it hard to believe that anyone would expect 14 year old girls who are rebelling against an unattainable image presented to them through a doll to understand all of the theory you are putting into your arguments…they are KIDS. Seriously. They do not have the education or life experience to even begin to understand the points being argued here- by young feminists, mothers, older feminists, women of color, women of various sizes, etc., etc. I would hate to discourage all young girls from speaking their minds and learning more about feminism because in their fourteen years they are not where you may be in life. I mean, come on.

  • Oshaberi

    Found here
    Make up, nose job, seven foot tall
    Wears high heels but she never falls
    No hopes, no dreams just one big smile
    She’s got no brains but she’s got style
    Barbie eat a sandwich before you die
    Barbie eat a sandwich, give it a try
    Barbie eat a sandwich to survive
    Barbie eat a sandwich, barbie eat a sandwich
    Everyone wants to have your hair
    Wherever you go, they want to be there
    They all think you’re real but we know you’re fake
    Believing in you was a big mistake
    Barbie eat a sandwich before you die
    Barbie eat a sandwich, give it a try
    Barbie eat a sandwich to survive
    Barbie eat a sandwich, barbie eat a sandwich
    Hey there, hey there
    It’s getting kinda drastic
    Even though you look fantastic
    Hey there, hey there
    It’s getting kinda drastic
    Even though you’re made of plastic
    Perfect tan and big blue eyes
    Everybody thinks that she’s the prize
    What is it that you’ve got to hide?
    Is there anything going on inside?
    Barbie eat a sandwich before you die
    Barbie eat a sandwich, give it a try
    Barbie eat a sandwich to survive
    Barbie eat a sandwich, barbie eat a sandwich
    Barbie eat a sandwich before you die
    Barbie eat a sandwich, give it a try
    Barbie eat a sandwich to survive
    Barbie eat a sandwich, barbie eat a sandwich
    Or just an apple