Feed is a movie about a detective (Phillip) tracking a serial killer (Michael) who kills women by overfeeding them until they die. He takes bets on when they’ll die and exploits them sexually. I wrote a review about the technical aspects of the movie, but I had a more personal reaction to the film than I typically do. It resonated with me because I can identify with Deidre, Michael’s victim, in some ways; the themes also struck a chord with me because of my struggle to accept my body.
My first boyfriend, when I was eighteen, was a broken twenty-four-year-old multiple amputee named Ryan who had already lost his mother to cancer. He didn’t want to hear about my depression. I told him I loved him and he responded in kind, but he didn’t know how to love me. He was wrapped up in his trauma and his two young kids (who had two different mothers, both of whom hated him). I can understand the kind of mindset that would make a woman destroy herself for a paltry gain like Michael’s affection. When Ryan told me he loved me, I put up with his silences and refusal to see me. When Deirdre tells Michael “You make me so happy,” I cringed inside because I’m pretty sure I said those exact words to Ryan. How that must have scared him.
I understand self-destruction. I too am morbidly obese (but thankfully mobile). I exercise, my job requires me to stand for long periods of time, I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but I sometimes binge eat junk food at night because I have major issues with anxiety and low self esteem. I see food as either a reward for putting up with a job that stresses me out or as a punishment, depending on my mood. Either way, I deserve to destroy myself. It’s safe. It doesn’t judge like people do. Food is all mixed up with love. Food is a reward. Begging for food is a continuous occurrence in Feed. Even Phillip’s traditionally attractive girlfriend Abbey comes up to him trying to seduce him, saying “Feed me.” Food as religion is touched upon; Phillip goes to a church and when offered communion, he replies, “I’m not hungry.” Hunger and desire is a constant image system.
The movie touches on cultural aspects of beauty. Or as Michael puts it, “I enable my women to be free of the social pressure to conform to a body norm which is based on abstract.” I’ve spent many a year trying to free myself of that same social pressure. It’s something I live with, knowing that men don’t look at me and only slender women are seen as beautiful and worthy in most of western culture. In one scene, Phillip’s boss, exasperated by Phillip’s drive to investigate Michael, exclaims “If these women are as fat as you say they are, they’re going to die of a stroke or a heart attack or downright fucking ugliness anyway!” One character in Feed who provokes thought about conventions of beauty is Michael’s adoptive sister Jesse, who when being pumped by Phillip for information in the guise of flirtation, expresses doubt that he could be attracted to her. As she says, “I’m a big girl. I’ve been stared at and sneered at my whole life.” *Spoiler* Phillip ends up living with her at the end of the movie, and seems quite happy.
There does seem to be more of a movement these days toward acceptance of all kinds of body types, or at least Facebook would have me believe with all its positive body image pages and such. I’ve done well for myself as far as relationships go; I had a couple awesome girlfriends and ended up marrying a decent guy who loves me for who I am. We live in as close to domestic bliss as people get. And I’m writing this instead of eating ice cream, so I have that going for me. Cheers.