No, You Don't Need To 'Socially-Distance' From Your Fridge

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
Woman Looks into Refrigerator for Healthy Snack
Grace Cary/Getty

Because it’s been hard to shop and we tend to stock up when we’re able, many of us have more food around than usual. We also don’t have much to do. This combination leads people to presume others are doing nothing but snarfing COVID-19 snacks all day — or, at least, that with stockpiling comes the right to fat-shame.

Fat-shaming has reached — excuse the pun — pandemic proportions. We’ve all seen the jokes about social distancing from the fridge. On Facebook, people say that with nothing to do, they’re going to gain the “COVID 15.” Even the memes get in on the action. There are too many of these “jokes” about weight gain and social distancing from the fridge circulating on the web to include them all.

The world seems to agree: unless we’re the other side (which is posting our #workoutgoals and #covidfitness pics on Insta), we’re endlessly tempted to chow down on all the things, all the time. They present it like it’s this either/or dichotomy, like we couldn’t possibly be working out and eating food at the same time.

This totally offensive picture even made the rounds on Facebook recently.

Apparently, the bikini is some kind of motivation: you have to look good in it, because your intrinsic worth is determined solely by arbitrary Western beauty standards bolstered by a capitalist system designed to sell goods through banking on women’s insecurity. In other words, you have to look hot in that bikini — because if you don’t worry about looking good in it, you won’t buy more diet stuff and other products meant to make you look better. Somehow all this justifies shaming you into not eating during a pandemic.

Social Distancing from the Fridge

Social media keeps talking about “social distancing from the fridge” like it’s some hilarious joke. We socially distance from one another to stop the spread of a pandemic … and the insinuation here is that the fridge contains the danger (food). Food itself is dangerous. Why? Because fat is bad.

It’s just one more way to fat shame people.

These jokes and memes aren’t funny. They do two things: they make people feel ashamed and small. They make them feel embarrassed and miserable. They can also be highly triggering. As a recovering atypical anorexic, it’s terrifying to me to live in a house with this much food. The last thing I need to see is a meme about social distancing from the fridge, because to my disease, it sounds like a good idea. These memes can trigger people with all kinds of mental illnesses and eating disorders.

It’s Not Even About the Food

“I need to socially distance from the fridge” doesn’t mean “I need to put physical distance between myself and my refrigerator.” It means “I need to be sure I don’t get fat.” Since getting fat is, of course, the worst thing that could ever happen. (Insert all the eye-rolls here.)

Yeah, it’s just as scary to gain weight as it is to get COVID-19, which killed more people in a month than the flu does in a year. Uh-huh. Photos like the one above and general commentary on “social distancing from the fridge,” use COVID-19 as an excuse to fat-shame.

They use a disease killing hundreds of thousands to make fun of fat people.

Sounds pretty bad when you say it like that, doesn’t it?


It’s Okay to Eat

Let’s have a talk about food and the pandemic. And let’s get one thing straight: We do not need to socially-distance from the fridge.

We use food for a lot of reasons. We use food as fuel for our bodies. We use food to celebrate, like many of us did at Passover or Easter. At a time when it’s hard to get certain foods — we were delighted, one week, to find ground beef at the grocery store — even that finding can be a kind of celebration, a “we got ground beef, so let’s grill some burgers and celebrate a little bit of normalcy here in the middle of this pandemic.”

We also use food for comfort. We don’t need social distancing from the fridge — some of us may need social comforting from the fridge. We’re calmed and soothed by comfort food. Ask yourself: what’s more important at the moment: your mental health, or possibly gaining a few pounds? Do you need to feel better about life, or do you need to fit into that theoretical bikini at all costs? Friend, if it matters that much to you, you can lose weight. It’s much harder to repair your mental health. It is okay to use food for comfort at a time when everything feels like it is falling apart.

Look, at this point in the pandemic, Team Scary Mommy endorses all comfort measures that do not injure/pose a danger to other human beings or yourself. And comfort eating? Your mental health is more important than a few pounds.

Stop joking about social distancing from the fridge. Stop telling women to wear their bikini all day. Stop using the pandemic to fat-shame. Because when you do that, the only one looking ugly is you.

This article was originally published on