If it is true that every woman has an eating disorder, then Hillary Clinton has the wrong one. Devouring a Drumstick ice cream cone, a raspberry malt, and a Snickers Blizzard in just over 24 hours as part of her DQ blitz campaign strategy, she made sure that local franchises got supported, husband Bill ate carrot sticks, and she met her weekly quota of calcium. And lest you think it was all a stunt to woo the sugared-dairy loving public, Jan, the store manager, when asked if she finished the whole thing, answered gleefully "[She] sure did!" He didn't mention whether she visited the bathroom immediately thereafter.
I'm not saying that she's sticking her fingers down her throat. Certainly we would all know it if she did, probably down to the very toilet, given the number of press flacks with blackberries that follow her around. But if you tally all her caloric excesses, so breathlessly reported by the press, then you won't be surprised if a minor third-world nation goes missing (would anyone even miss Suriname?). At the very least she's grazing her way into Binge Eating Disorder territory. While that disorder is certainly prevalent, and I do give her props for trying to lock in the binge-eating vote -- it just isn't fashionable.
Thanks to Bonnie Fuller, we all know being fashionable is priority number one for Our First (Maybe) Woman President. Perhaps, the potential Madame President hasn't given her food choices enough thought. Back in the day, there were only two ways to be disordered: anorexia and bulimia. Then a few years later, in a classic catch-all, we got eating disorder not otherwise specified. And by the turn of the century we had added a whole new list of -exias and -mias: wannarexia (for hopefuls), drunkorexia (for co-eds), diabulimia (for diabetics), exercise bulimia (for starlets) and orthorexia (for orthopedists).
It is that last one that I recommend to Ms. Clinton. Orthorexia, or the fixation with eating only the healthiest or purest foods, is the new black. Everyone is doing it. They might call it different things: veganism, macrobiotics, the raw food diet, Scientology, but in the end it is all about rejecting "bad" food and imposing a strict scaffolding of dietary rules to protect your fragile body. It's guaranteed to keep every Head of State (or at least every head of catering) jumping.
Like most eating disorders, orthorexia is the privilege of the rich (a group in which Clinton indisputably belongs). We assume that the poor aren't starving by choice. I can't imagine a Rwandan turning down a salmon fillet because it wasn't Alaskan wild-raised-and-caught and yet at a dinner party last weekend that very scene played out, much to the consternation of the hostess who had the gall to serve a fish of unknown pedigree.
Bastard salmon aside, the real indication that this fad is turning into a true trend is the number of celebrities embracing it. Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman, and Demi Moore reportedly only eat
raw food. Gwyneth Paltrow follows macrobiotic principles, possibly to the point of fainting. Reese Witherspoon keeps jars of organic baby food in her purse, lest she be confronted with real food and be unable to resist. And if even just one of the hundreds of stories about Posh Spice-Beckham's diet are true, then she is the poster child for the disorder. Where Hollywood leadeth, the country voteth, right?
My point is this: in the spate of gustatory articles about all the current presidential hopefuls, only Clinton's diet and eating habits are dissected to the point of daily calorie tallies. John McCain, who, if the Internet is to be believed, eats babies for breakfast, is described as "loving hotdogs." Esquire is even worried that he might not be eating enough. Barack Obama can eat no wrong despite, like Senator McCain, also reportedly eating babies. (Hoopla surrounding his chili recipe duly noted.) Maybe Clinton needs to board the baby-eating train. Oh, wait, never mind.
Is this reduction of a powerful, complex woman to a basic bodily function a feminist backlash? An anti-feminist backlash? General female cattiness? Chauvinistic reporting? Media catering to people who can't be bothered to read a Voters' Pamphlet and yet can make it through all 800+ pages of the Spring Issue of Vogue (ads included)?
In the end, it doesn't matter to me what Hillary Clinton eats. I'm voting for Barack. Because he's hot.
Follow Charlotte Hilton Andersen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharlotteGFE