The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Poorna Bell Headshot

Women Who Eat on Tubes Is Not Art, It's Not Harmless and It's Not Okay

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

If watching Channel 4's Secret Eaters has taught me anything, it's that women have some similar patterns to eating food. What sticks out most is guilt.

I may be reading too much into it, but the hunched shoulders, the furtive snacking and the cramming of food in one's mouth (to make it disappear faster).

I enjoy my food - a lot - but a combination of things means I'm not immune to this guilt from a number of different sources: comments from family, the diet industry and just general scrutiny from the media whenever a celebrity eats eg when Victoria Beckham orders a salad.

Eating, like sleeping, breathing and pooping is a necessary human function, yet men do not face the same pressure and scrutiny that we do. You never read a David Beckham Sleeps! or Prince William Eats Cheese And Onion Crisps!

So when I read an interview with the founder of heinous Women Eating On The Tube describing it as 'art', a vein exploded.

For those who don't know, the page is literally for people to upload pictures of women they've seen eating on the Tube, who they've snapped surreptitiously. The group has occupied headlines in the last few days because a journalist blogged about it after finding herself on it, and the Transport for London police have issued a statement saying that women can contact them if they see someone taking a picture of them.

The Telegraph did an interview with Chris Burke, creator of the page who said: ""At its truest form, it should cherish its subjects in the way a wildlife photographer cherishes a kingfisher in a river."

Well thanks Chris, because there's nothing more we women like than to be compared with animals.

There are two irrefutable facts: the page is only about women, and none of these women look elegant or dignified.

And why would they? As evidenced by the bulging cheeks and blank eyes, they are trying to grab some quick sustenance while rushing to some other job or commitment while a total wanker has decided to photograph them.

I'm sure some men might be thinking: 'Well, what's the big deal, I wouldn't care if someone took a picture of me while chowing down on some Chicken Cottage' but guys, that's the difference between us.

There's a reason why there isn't a show called Women V Food because you're conditioned to hog, eat competitively and scoff. We're conditioned to watch what we eat, consider low-fat options and watch our figures.

We do consider it a violation in a public place that someone has caught us at a vulnerable moment and decided to broadcast it. For us, the paranoia of being watched isn't actually in our heads, it's real.

Not least of which, as Nell Frizzell writes on the Guardian, taking sneaky pictures just of women is in the same clubhouse as under-the-skirt photo pervs. "Just because a woman is thrusting an object into her mouth does not mean she deserves to be the subject of titillation," she writes. "It's crass, boring and reductive, and says much more about the photographer than it does the subject."

The counter-argument of course is that people are being too sensitive and it's just a bit of fun.

But even if the 'photographers' themselves aren't total cretins, then the people who comment underneath the photos with vicious trollish comments certainly are - and all because you fancied a snack on the go.

Around the Web

Women Who Eat On Tubes

'Women Who Eat On Tubes' sticks in my throat | Nell Frizzell ...

A Facebook page of sneaky photos of women eating on the Tube ...

Why this man takes photos of 'Women Who Eat On Tubes'. He ...

'End humiliating game of taking photos of women eating on the Tube ...

A Facebook page of sneaky photos of women eating on the Tube creeps out ...

Women are fighting back against 'Women Who Eat On Tubes' Facebook group

Women Who Eat on Tubes Facebook group targets told to call police 'if they ...

Women Who Eat On Tubes Facebook Group Accused Of 'Bullying & Intimidating'

Women Who Eat On Tubes 'movement' sparks outrage

Presented By Santa Maria