I came a bit late to the Barefoot Contessa party, but watching The Food Network meant it had to happen sooner or later.
Ina Garten was a White House policy analyst before buying a specialty food store and caterer called Barefoot Contessa. Eventually she sold the store and turned to writing cookbooks and magazine columns before eventually turning up on the Food Network.
I didn’t know all that when I first saw the show, of course. I think I saw the opening credits first, featuring a fairly typical montage of not just food and people eating, but also Ina walking in her garden and on the beach. Her husband, currently a professor at Yale, is frequently shown on the show as well.
If you watch the show, you’ll know that she’s also fat. This isn’t commented on, just present. Nor does she “cast around herself” and only feature other fat people on the show (she frequently has guests on the show).
Like many food shows, there are quirks that can drive you crazy: catchphrases (“so delicious”, “how good is that”, “with the volume turned up”); a distinct filming style; her unabashed Francophilia; even her standard uniform of slacks and an oversized button down shirt. But I love how she makes everything look easy. I’m glad that there’s a fat woman on TV who isn’t constantly talking about dieting and losing weight, who hangs out with friends and is happily married. I wonder how much of that has to do with her seeing the TV show as a small part of her life (as she mentions in the below news clip).
Now, I haven’t talked with Ina Garten about fat acceptance – for all I know she’s constantly dieting. But it’s nice to see a fat woman who has a life and isn’t ashamed of it!
A few related links: