You Are What You Eat: Is Food TV Lookist?S

One writer - from the carnivorous Meatpaper (vegetarians, avert your eyes) - has unearthed what he calls the "unattractive men/unattractive meat narrative" of food TV: "the weirder-looking you are, the weirder the food you have to eat."

Of course, it's probably a little more complex than that. In the world that is food porn, sure, there are the carnivorous bears, the svelte sex kittens (Giada, Nigella), the asexual "moms" (Paula and Ina) and, of course, the Bad Boys (Anthony Bourdain, sometimes Mario and, it must be said, Flay.) All of these satisfy a different fantasy: comforting, aspirational, exciting.

It's not a shocker that the dude shows should get a "manly" host - Guy Fieri as resident carnivore is a believable and relatable eater, after all. Even Alton Brown takes cooking into the realm of scientific rather than aspirational in a way that seems, if not designed to appeal to, at least made not to alienate a male viewership by removing the domestic. And I get the larger point he's making: at the end of the day, people want their roles in place and their pretty ladies dainty. We don't want to see someone hot eating a really gross burger (unless, I guess, that's your thing - and it's gotta be someone's), and hypocritical society that we arem we probably don't want to see someone larger do so - Ina and Paula don't exactly tuck into their buttery concoctions on camera - which leaves, yes, the everydude.

But while I defer to Meatpaper's Chris Ying on most things fleshy, there are a couple of flaws with the argument. 1. Bourdain. The man eats insects and whale and fermented maggot - and say what one will, he's not unattractive. Indeed, "dashing" would be a better word. 2. Sandra Lee. Maybe the author's argument is confined to men, but Lee, whatever one may think of her aesthetic, checks all the boxes for conventional American attractiveness and, bar none, makes the weirdest and grossest food on television. Nauseous combinations of mixes and sodas, spice and jelly - all topped off by a lurid-colored original cocktail and served amidst a tablescape that feels like a bad trip on the Wonkatania.

Meatpaper
Unattractive Men Call For Unattractive Meat [Utne]