Magazine article USA TODAY

Food Forays in the Battle of the Sexes

Magazine article USA TODAY

Food Forays in the Battle of the Sexes

Article excerpt

A young couple goes out to dinner for the first time. The man orders a 16-ounce steak and a beer. The woman pushes salad around on her plate while sipping seltzer with a slice of lime. After they say goodnight, she walks into her apartment, heads for the freezer, takes out a pint of ice cream, and eats the whole container. "It's classic dating behavior," maintains Stephen Bailey, associate professor of anthropology at Tufts University. "Desserts are women's guilty little secret."

While at work on a book called Body Maps, an inquiry into the different ways people evaluate how they look, he interviewed body-builders, models, and athletes, finding that food and eating issues arose frequently. "I'm coming to realize that eating disorders are not really about food, but about our bodies. We live in a culture that emphasizes the discipline of fit bodies, and we must be pummeled and dieted into shape."

While men focus on muscularity and strength, the battlefield on which food wars are fought belongs to women. "There's a good deal of evidence that men are substantially more satisfied with their bodies than women are with theirs. Men have a greater range of weights and physiques they can feel comfortable with, while women have a specific physique to strive for. These days, for women, it's a weird combination of muscularity, slenderness, and large breasts--which no woman can possibly achieve."

Not only are men happier with their bodies, they are more comfortable about the kinds of food they eat. …

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