Wherever there is food, a stock image woman is turned on.
The internet has miraculously uncovered a few stock photo trends to date: women laughing alone with salad, women who can't ride bikes, heels crushing tiny men. Because half of the stock fodder out there is really quite terrible, blandly white, and obnoxiously unrealistic, it's no wonder that we keep picking up on some of the more atrocious modeling patterns these sites seem to churn out. The latest is Women Making Sex Faces with Food, discovered by one clever Tumblr user. Women Making Sex Faces with Food bills itself as, "Your destination for high quality stock photos of women making sexually suggestive faces while eating food, mostly burgers."
If you check out the blog (or any billboard) you will notice that women's sex faces — furrowed brows, open "O" mouths, protruding tongues, squinted eyes — almost always come paired with a value meal. Why is every food in every ad and stock photo library seemingly making women come in their pants? Nobody really knows. The salami isn't laced with vibrators. (Hello, it's already salami!) But food, known to mostly provide nutrients and satiate hunger, is probably convoluted so frequently with sex because both meet certain basic biological cravings. A sexy woman with an impossible body writhing on a beach with a sandwich (à la Carl's Jr.) fulfills two appetites at once.
The food industry survives upon the notion that part of eating food isn't just taking in nutrients to survive, it's the ceremony of it, the delicious taste, the got-to-get-it-ness of the food. Typically, women who provide food (and good food, at that) in ads are portrayed as sexier. Sexy women depicted eating food has been around since the 19th century, when cereal ads showed bulky women lifting grains for their husband's cereal bowls. Betty Crocker was one of the first women on TV to provide sex appeal with a slice of cake. "Take my newest flavor, honey spice. The men really go for it," Betty remarks in one of her vintage commercials.
And the women who consume food in ads are also portrayed as sexier too. Women get the deepest orgasms from chocolate, it would seem, if you watch any modern commercial. That's why women making sex faces with food and the thousands of stock images it has spawned makes sense: food is marketed to fill us up in every way. Desire and hunger are embedded in the we talk about both sex and women. I'd "like a piece of that," "I'd like a taste," "that sweet ass." We even call the most appealing dishes at restaurants food porn. If women look like they're having a good time with their food, then the food looks even better by proxy.
Women Making Sex Faces with Food points to the larger message these stock photo Tumblrs address: when we try to define a sex with one image, they become caricatures of the basest gender stereotypes. Women don't actually have full-body orgasms when they eat a parfait (sorry, yogurt is not that great). Unlike landmark porn film Deep Throat would have you believe, ladies don't actually have clitorises in the backs of their throats, rewarding them with an orgasm every time they down a club sandwich.
Most recently, Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, teamed up with Getty Images to form the Lean In Collection, a library of over 2,500 powerful depictions of women in the workplace and at home. It's a step away from the women laughing with their salad and riding bicycles like they've never seen one in their lives. You probably won't find any women on the verge of climax with a cup of raspberries in this library, but there's always other stock photo sites for that.
Images via Women Making Sex Faces with Food.