MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Despite everyone’s tendency to indulge occasionally, women are experiencing a new phenomenon referred to as “Food Shaming.” Many women say they’re met with insulting comments by strangers if they eat a high calorie food in public. Some experts consider it a form of bullying.

“I have heard of this and I find this unbelievable,” said nutrition professor Joan Salge Blake. “This is like harassment. First of all, eating is not a moral issue.”

Salge Blake added that if this happened to a child, it would be considered bullying.

Consider the recent headline harassment of 18-year old Kendall Jenner who’s been strutting the fashion runways from New York to Milan. An Australian tabloid ran a headline that read, “You’re too fat for runway.”

This type of pressure can cause a woman to distort her eating habits, which might have been good to begin with.

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“All things in moderation are perfectly fine,” added Salge Blake.

Britni De La Cretaz is the director of Hollaback, a group committed to ending street harassment of all kinds.  She believes more women are speaking up about this kind of behavior.

“Street harassment is caused because there is a belief in our society that women’s bodies are public property.”

Food shaming can be found in a variety of comments. “Whether it’s a comment that they might lose their figure, or that they shouldn’t be eating that in general, or they don’t need that,” De La Cretaz said.

De La Cretaz said women who don’t fit into society’s idealized standard of beauty are often the targets of these taunts.

One post recently came into the Hollaback web site and read:  “I was in South Station in the afternoon with my dad eating a vanilla soft serve and a 50 plus man walked by looking me up and down and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’”

Most often these comments are delivered by men, sometimes in a group, who think this is harmless humor.  But because so many women already struggle with diet and body image, the consequences can be very real.

“It does pile on, and that’s where young people are particularly vulnerable to eating disorders, vulnerable to feeling judged, and feeling like they are on the outside looking in,” said Ted Kyle of the Obesity Action Coalition.

“This kind of stigma, this kind of pressure, this kind of bias effects both men and women but it effects women most severely,” Kyle added.

Hollaback says victims should try to project strength even as it happens.

“Use strong body language and act confident, even if you don’t.  We say ‘fake it, til you make it,’” explained De La Cretaz.


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