This String Cheese Packaging Is Oddly Sexist

"Reduced fat" should not make a food more feminine.

Some days you can’t even enjoy a string cheese without sexism getting you down.

Someone wrote in to Jezebel this week with an irritating observation about Galbani string cheese.

“The 3 types of full fat cheese each have a different 'boy' string cheese cartoon character, but the low fat cheese character has been drawn as a girl,” the anonymous tipster wrote. “Wouldn’t have noticed it at all except my 5yo daughter excitedly pointed it out and asked if we could get the ‘girl cheese.’”

The tipster provided a photo, which matches up with the images of the cheese on the Galbani website -- all their string cheese and “snack cheese” products have a stereotypically male-looking cheese character, while the reduced-fat versions have a lady cheese person.

Consumerist points out this issue isn’t limited to Galbani -- the site wrote about a similar issue with Lucerne-brand cheese in 2014. Neither brand immediately returned a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

Is the packaging on these cheeses the end of the world? No. But it's indicative of bigger problems with the gendered ways that many people view food. Advertisers often market low-calorie or stereotypically “healthy” food directly to women, while presenting meat-centric food products as “manly” or macho. (Think Hungry-Man frozen dinners, which actually bear the slogan “Eat like a man.”)

A 2014 study suggested that gendered perceptions of food are so ingrained in our minds, people actually think food tastes worse when it comes in mixed-gender packaging. And another study in 2012 found that people see meat as more “masculine” than vegetables.

These kinds of associations not only reinforce the harmful idea that women should always be dieting, watching their weight, or otherwise depriving themselves, but they may also discourage men from making healthier food choices -- or prevent them from considering plant-based diets that are beneficial to animals and the environment.

So really, eat the food that’s right for you personally. And remember that you don’t have to let a little cheese person boss you around.

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