Ariana Grande, a pop singer I’ve never heard of (possibly because I’m old and uncool), is taking some flak for having licked, or possibly pretended to lick, the donuts on display at a donut shop, while proclaiming, “What the f*** is that?” in reaction to an employee walking by with a tray of donuts and “I hate Americans. I hate America.” Sweetie, that’s a donut. You’re in a donut shop. If its presence mortally offends you, maybe go somewhere else? Also, don’t lick food that other people are going to eat. Ew.
She apologized for her behavior, explaining that her horrified reaction to the mere existence of donuts was because she’s “frustrated” by childhood obesity rates. To me, this is really emblematic of a screwed-up food culture. We’re so saturated with the “Fat is bad, food is the enemy” message that it made sense in her head to be disgusted and outraged—not that someone ate 10 donuts in a sitting or something (not that that would be her business), but that there were donuts for sale at all. And it’s also telling that “but childhood obeeeesity!!1!” was the go-to justification for her childish behavior. That seems to be the Get Out of Jail Free card for all kinds of nonsense. Though, with things like Departments of Education sending home weight report cards, I guess it’s probably the least harmful bad behavior that’s used “childhood obeeeeesity!!!” as an excuse lately.
The innocent donut is kind of the emblematic “bad fatty” food, from Homer Simpson to donut-eating cops stereotyped as fat and lazy. And yet, ironically, I think way more harm is done by the false dichotomy of good foods and bad foods than by just eating the donut if you want a donut. Making something forbidden fruit can make it more desirable, or create feelings of panic around it that lead to eating way more of it than is helpful or feels good, what Michelle Alison calls induced food insecurity.
Overall, I just wish everyone would tone down the food judgment. Hand-wringing over the existence of sweets is not going to help anybody with anything, even if it’s sincere. My money is actually on “BS after-the-fact justification for childish misbehavior” because if you find a food gross and offensive, licking it is probably the *last* thing you’re going to do.