In the early days of 2011, The Hairpin published a piece called "Women Laughing Alone with Salad." It was a textless collection of 18 stock photos, all depicting single women gleefully enjoying their leafy greens. In that simplicity was brilliance: The piece simultaneously highlighted the absurdity of the stock images that we mindlessly consume all day, everyday, while also underlining that it certainly wasn’t men laughing alone with salad. Women were the ones expected to revel in healthy food, to find joy in undressed carrot and spinach, and to be fulfilled by, well, not all that much. (Or, as Jezebel put it in their piece on “Overly Popular Lady Images:” “I enjoy my life so much, even though I am eating this low-fat product.") The piece went viral. The Hairpin’s traffic skyrocketed from several thousands of daily visits to 265,900 daily visits the day it was published. The meme got a shout-out from Ellen, and was even made into a national play.
“Women Laughing Alone with Salad” gave way to “Women Laughing Alone with Tablets,” “Women Struggling to Drink Water,” and too many other versions to name. But you know what I never saw ladies laughing alone with? Breakfast. Where were the women cackling with waffles or yogurt or eggs? The ladies beaming with bowls of fruit salad or mugs of coffee?
I set out to right this wrong.