Even though it’s 2018, it seems like women can’t escape ridiculous stereotypes based on gender. Most recently, in a January 31st interview with Freakonomics Radio, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi discussed the company’s recent efforts to develop special snacks for women.
The idea, according to Nooyi, is that women care more about things like getting Cheetos dust on their hands or making loud crunching noises when they’re snacking. When the radio show host asked if she was planning to release a “male and female version” of snacks, she elaborated on her position, saying that these new products will be designed just for women.
Pepsi has not yet announced what we can expect these special snacks to look like or when they’ll hit the shelves.
All of the features of these “snacks for women” rely on gender stereotypes. From the time they’re born, women are expected to be quiet and dainty, and designing special snacks in order to reinforce these stereotypes is worthy of all the eye rolls. Some women love crunching potato chips and licking flavor powder off their fingers. Not to mention there are plenty of men who go to great lengths to keep clean while eating.
Aside from the sexist stereotypes in Nooyi’s comments, the food industry has always participated in gendered marketing, coding foods like yogurt as feminine and foods like steaks as masculine.
On top of all this, women face fat-shaming and pressure to lose weight, and foods considered “feminine” — salads, granola, fruit — are mostly weight-loss foods. Luke Zhu, assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, told the Washington Post that healthy foods are associated with women and unhealthy foods with men. Think of all the stock photos of women laughing at salads.
Can we please stop policing what women eat already?
Everyone, regardless of gender, deserves to eat what they want without judgment. At the end of the day, food is food; it has no gender. Let’s keep it that way.