After my breakfast of Special K and Activia, but before my two-Luna Bar lunch, I sat down with a cup of Mother’s Milk lactation tea and reached between my legs to make sure the balls I was born with were still there. Yep. Despite two weeks of eating food made for women, my body hadn’t changed at all.
When I began my exploration of gendered food items, I was hoping for a dramatic payoff. Perhaps a set of fuzzy breasts sprouting from my chest, or some semblance of emotional intelligence, or at least a clearer understanding of how cereal, salad, and trail mix can be feminine. Instead, I got a pile of cardboard packaging and confirmation of my thesis: marketing something as “for women” -- the pinks and purples, the low-calorie labels, the suggestions that life is just sooooo crazy and women need to take a break with a thumbnail-sized brownie -- is the dumbest gimmick in food marketing.
You’re no doubt aware of Luna Bars, which have been around for 16 years and say right there on the wrapper that they’re a “whole nutrition bar for women.” A handful of other products, including Mother’s Milk tea and an untold number of chalky bars, take a similarly explicit approach. They’re typically fortified with extra calcium, vitamin D, or other nutrients ostensibly important to running a woman. But most of the food products that are “for women” stay away from mentioning nutrients. Like Activia and Special K, they’re pitched with ads full of women, touted as a convenient way to “have it all,” and always framed as a weapon in the never-ending fight against fat.