Peering into other people’s food trolleys is a voyeuristic game we can all play when queuing at the checkout (as French gastronome Brillat-Savarin put it, ‘Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are’).2 Aspirational food shoppers may be more entertaining than the compulsive-obsessive chocolate types. Chocoholics are often very serious, despite Dawn French’s best endeavours in Terry’s chocolate advertisements to parody the extremity of the nation’s passion for chocolate.
Class fantasies articulated via gourmet foods and/or supermarket ranges are far more humorous in terms of aspirational styling – to me at least – than those articulated through property and fashion statements. I’ve never really believed that you are what you have or wear, so the notion that ‘you are what you eat’ seems really rather funny. Yet in the social arena humour may be an inappropriate response to the subject of image when so much emphasis is placed on appearances and the relationship of ‘looking good’ to success.
Indeed, survey evidence presented by Shelley Bovey, for example, reveals that in the West the culture of slenderness dominates social discourse and that fat has a negative connotation.5 From Germaine Greer (1971) to Naomi Wolf (1990) many feminist critics have complained about the culture of slenderness.6 Some have also identified how fat men and women do less well at job interviews than their slender counterparts, who may not be as gifted or qualified