The latest food controversy shows how food is stereotyped as male or female.
Lady Doritos is no more. After a controversy over a "female" version of Doritos, the plan was scrapped for Doritos that don’t crunch so women can eat in a more "ladylike" manner.
“As you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips,” said PepsiCo president Indra Nooyi, “they love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth … Women, I think, would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public,” said Nooya, according to the Washington Post.
The bad publicity and sarcastic tweets shut down any plans for the lady Doritos, but there is still a problem with making foods "masculine" or "feminine." Ads for chocolate always show women, making chocolate a "womanly" food. Commercials for tacos or chicken often show men chowing down, so meat is "manly." Yogurt commercials are often shown with a woman eating daintily while worrying about keeping off the pounds. Salads and low-fat cereals are also seen as the only acceptable food for women. Burgers or burritos are only for men to eat unless a woman is eating one in a bikini in a Carl’s Jr. ad.
Not only is gendering food sexist, but it’s dangerous. Lady Doritos reinforces the belief that women should be self-conscious about what they eat and should not make noise when they eat. Segregating food by gender tells women subconsciously that they should always watch their weight and can’t just enjoy food. Women already have complicated relationships with food because of societal pressure about their looks. Lady Doritos could further the stereotype that women should eat food while being seen and not heard.
Nooyi has bought into the gendered stereotypes about food she should be fighting, especially as a female CEO of color at Pepsi, the parent company of Doritos. In a male-dominated world of business, Nooyi should move beyond the lazy groupthink of marketers. More than sexism, lady Doritos is just another crass way to oversell gender-neutral products by dividing snacks into different gender classes. Dividing products into "men’s" and "lady" categories just gives companies an excuse to overcharge women for the same product. Lady Doritos would likely have been another reason for Pepsi to charge women more for the snack.
Thankfully, the backlash from women on Twitter shut down the idea of Lady Doritos. Doritos had to apologize and said in a statement that "We already have Doritos for women–they’re called Doritos, and they’re enjoyed by millions of people every day."
Hopefully, Doritos and Nooyi can see that men and women can enjoy florescent-colored chips in the same way. Nooyi can be a true leader by not reinforcing gender stereotypes and letting women just enjoy food.