First off, big thanks to @Jenny_Trout for linking my post on the first book on her great 50 Shades recaps. She’s currently working on an awesome book in response to 50 Shades, called The Boss. This is radical for several reasons: it presents a BDSM romance in which the submissive heroine is not a doormat and the dom is not an asshole, but I think the really crazy thing here is that the heroine works hard, likes to eat, respects her friends, and worries about paying the rent. Chapters will be posted for free twice each month, and I’m very excited to see how this unfolds.
If you’re new here, much of this blog covers game-related topics, but I do have another 50 Shades piece from the summer. It’s called 50 Shades of WoW and mashes up the game my website covers with the awfulness of 50 Shades.
Anyway, onto food in Book 2:
Christian ordering Ana to eat gets really fucking weird in the second book. We learn he’ll stop ordering her around to eat when he wants sex, even when minutes ago he appeared so worried she was starving. He doesn’t appear genuinely concerned for her at all: ordering her to eat is just another way he can control her when he can’t control her with sex.
This book makes the first book seem healthy in comparison. I’m going to organize this book slightly differently and summarize all the food references for each day, because some days have plot arcs that center around food consumption. These chapters are also laced with control about Ana’s body–from “small” things like arguing to let her drive with music on, to majorly wtf things like forcing her to use birth control because he dislikes condoms, even down to scheduling appointments without her knowledge.
Day 1: Ana hasn’t eaten for four days
We start off the food analysis with a bang:
“I am finding it difficult to eat. By Wednesday lunchtime, I manage a cup of yogurt, and it’s the first thing I’ve eaten since Friday. I am surviving on a newfound tolerance for lattes and Diet Coke. It’s the caffeine that keeps me going, but it’s making me anxious.”
Anxious? How about, faint and passing out.
This is due to Ana deciding to break up with Christian, so she must fill the roll of an innocent martyr by starving and punishing herself. In this section, she also notes that her roommate, Kate, is probably drinking a cocktail on a warm beach. Kate is often set up as a contrast to Ana and is the target of much illogical snark, such as being shamed for being openly affectionate to her boyfriend or vocal about Christian being creepy. Kate has no inhibitions, so of course she can eat as much food and get as much pleasure as she wants. Ana has to torture herself every step of the way, because she’s a good virtuous girl.
Day 2: Ana breaks her fast, is full after five bites of steak
When dressing up for her friend’s art show, Ana notices that “the dress is looser on me than it was, but I pretend not to notice.”
Christian notices it as well, saying “When did you last eat?” by way of a greeting, upon first interacting with her after their breakup. He then comments at the event, “Those beautiful eyes look too large in your face, Anastasia. Please tell me you’ll eat.”
The bizarre symbolism that starving herself represents independence, while eating represents capitulating to Christian’s whims, is further developed in the resulting dialogue:
“Yes, Christian, I’ll eat,” I answer automatically, a platitude.
“I mean it.”
“Do you now?” I cannot keep the disdain out of my voice. Honestly, the audacity of this man—this man who has put me through hell over the last few days. No, that’s wrong. I’ve put myself through hell. No. It’s him. I shake my head, confused.
“I don’t want to fight with you, Anastasia. I want you back, and I want you healthy.”
However, in spite of this angst, they can both agree to drink white whine at the reception without hesitation. Ana is only internally worried that Christian, a wine snob, will hate it.
They’ve only been at the show for a few pages, but Christian abruptly orders Ana to leave and get food (and also is condescending to Jose):
“I’m taking you for something to eat. You’re fading away in front of me. Find the boy, say good-bye.
“Please, can we stay longer?”
“No. Go. Now. Say good-bye.”
See, Ana is trying to be all feisty and stubborn about her food ideals, but Christian here is being all dommy and ordering her around and aww, he knows what’s best, he’s a man that wants her to eat. /puke
Christian then orders “sirloin steak cooked medium, béarnaise sauce if you have it, fries, and green vegetables” for Ana, who complains that she doesn’t like steak, but interrupts the conversation to order a bottle of wine without second thought.
Ana’s reaction to seeing the steak placed in front of her is: “Holy hell. Food.”She’s too nervous to eat, as usual:
Deep down I know I’m hungry, but right now, my stomach is in knots. Sitting across from the only man I have ever loved and debating our uncertain future does not promote a healthy appetite. I look dubiously at my food.
Christian is ever-so-caring, using this as an opportunity to crack a joke at beating her, which was the reason she broke up with him less than a week ago:
“So help me God, Anastasia, if you don’t eat, I will take you across my knee here in this restaurant, and it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification. Eat!”
Of course, when she calls Christian Sir, he stops bossing her and decides it’s totally fine she’s only eaten half a meal in the past week, so they can moving onto the sexing again. As she’s complaining she’s full and can’t eat anymore, she takes a “sip of the delicious wine.”
Day 3: Christian is upset she’s not eating more, so distracts her with sex during dinner
We start off the day on a tentatively positive note, with Ana eating a banana for breakfast. We learn of this when Christian emails her asking if she’s eaten, and then he snarks her small breakfast saying she’ll need “more energy for begging,” so that’s less positive. She then has a pastrami sandwich for lunch without much fanfare. Hooray!
Alcohol is again never an issue, even in the presence of people she’s uncomfortable with, so she drinks three beers at a staff party with her creepy boss present.
After Ana expresses outrage that he bought the company she works for, they go home to…eat. He’s annoyed she hasn’t eaten dinner and narrows his eyes, but she insinuates she wants sex instead of food. There is a really strange exchange over the next few pages in which they alternate between making out and Christian criticizing Ana for not eating more:
““I see,” he says, and his lips press into a thin line. “Come, let’s have something to eat.
Oh no! “I thought we were going to bed! I want to go to bed with you.”
““You need to eat and so do I,” he murmurs, burning gray eyes gazing down at me. “Besides . . . anticipation is the key to seduction, and right now, I’m really into delayed gratification.”
“He smiles at me tenderly. “Eat. You’re too slender.”
“I’m still mad that you bought SIP, and now I am mad at you because you’re making me wait.” I pout. “You are one angry little madam, aren’t you? You’ll feel better after a good meal.”
They decide to go to the grocery store, since he’s annoyed she has no food in the house. We also learn that Christian has never learned to cook, which makes sense because he cares about food so much. However, he decides that they can eat later, orders her to put the chicken in the fridge, and then pulls her into the bedroom for sex.
He then spoils the mood after sex by saying that they need to eat. So basically, he tries to make Ana feel bad about sex by not meeting his demands, and then makes Ana feel bad about wanting sex by saying she should eat. Ana is more than willing to admit though that she’s a great cook and Kate is a terrible cook–of course Kate is a terrible cook, all she likes to do is publicly make out with her boyfriend and has no problems enjoying a good meal, unlike Ana.
Christian then attempts something romantic with restraints and ice cream, but she thinks “Okay, enough” after being fed one scoop and shuts her mouth and shakes her head.
He scoops another spoonful and feeds me some more, then he does it again. Okay, enough. “Hmm, well, this is one way to ensure you eat—force-feed you. I could get used to this.” Taking another spoonful, he offers me more. This time I keep my mouth shut and shake my head.
Yeah right, you care so much about her eating habits, you instantly dropped all interest in food twice in two days when sex was hinted at.
Day 4: Christian decides what birth control Ana should be on
After taking Ana to get her hait cut at the salon his ex runs goes sour, they find themselves awkwardly back at home. Left alone, she starts off dancing around the room as she cooks brunch for Christian, but by the time they sit down, she loses her appetite because he brings up past relationships.
The food at the charity banquet is pretty fancy, and she does manage to eat it because she realizes she is “famished.” Salmon tartare, duck breast, figs and maple ice cream, cheese, coffee.
On a related note, since food is one way to symbolize control of Ana’s body, here’s another shitty angle of controlling her:
“What did you mean about a big day tomorrow?” I ask to distract myself.
“Dr. Greene is coming to sort you out. Plus, I have a surprise for you.”
“Dr. Greene!” I halt.
“Because I hate condoms,” he says quietly. His eyes glint in the soft light from the paper lanterns, gauging my reaction.
“It’s my body,” I mutter, annoyed that he hasn’t asked me.
“It’s mine, too,” he whispers.
I gaze up at him as various guests pass by, ignoring us. He looks so earnest. Yes, my body is his . . . he knows it better than I do.
S’ok, just starve yourself for the rest of the book to show you’re empowered and are independent in spite of agreeing to birth control you don’t want because your hot boyfriend declares he owns your body.
Day 5: Ana actually eats 2.5 meals
You know a relationship is trusting and positive when your reaction to being asked if you’ve eaten breakfast is “uh-oh.”
“Are you hungry? You didn’t finish all your breakfast.” He glances quickly at me, disapproval outlined on his face. Uh-oh. “Yes.”
“Lunch first, then.
They go out to spend a lovely day sailing in the bay, with chowder and beer for lunch, and Italian food for dinner (on “unfeasibly large” plates). It’s just punctuated by ominous messages like following throughout, which make the mood creepy instead of romantic:
I am less nervous of his moods, confident that he won’t punish me, and he seems more comfortable with me, too.
Day 6: Mrs. Jones, the only non-threatening female, cooks Ana food, which she likes.
Day 6 is a ray of sunshine, at first. Mrs. Jones makes pancakes and bacon for Ana, which she eats without drama. She then likes the chicken sandwich Mrs. Jones has packed for lunch, and when she’s “starving” again in the evening, she’s able to eat a “delicious” coq au vin, once again cooked by Mrs. Jones.
Ana is predatory towards every other woman in the book though, even her best friend Kate, so this really just shows that she likes Mrs. Jones because she’s relegated to the mother/caretaker role and isn’t a sexual threat to Christian.
Day 7: Ana hears about Christian’s ex and loses her appetite
Day 7 begins on a positive note, as Ana once again eats pancakes and bacon made by Mrs. Jones for breakfast, and tuna salad for lunch. She then goes for three beers and a brandy with friends after work, instead of dinner. This is alright, except then she declares she’s not hungry at 11pm. Christian makes food and forces her to eat it. However, when he tells her about one of his exes during dinner, she is naseaous and throws her meal in the trash.
Day 8: Ana oversleeps and forgets to eat
Ana oversleeps because she was so distraught the night before, misses breakfast, and only has a latte for lunch. She’s interrupted when she goes to get an afternoon snack at work, and finally has a full meal when she eats Mrs. Jones’ chipotle for dinner.
Day 9: Ana is ordered to eat breakfast and dinner, because she’s not eating on her own
Ana tells Mrs. Jones she wants a light breakfast, but Christian’s lips twitch and he snarks her small meal: “Eat your granola, all of it, if that’s all you’re having.”
After she inherits her boss’ job after being at work for a week, she is so busy that she forgets to eat lunch.
For dinner, they go to a fancy restaurant, where she eats the oyster appetizer sexily because Christian is feeding them to her.
Then he demands her to eat her real dinner, and she just wants to have sex, so he jokes about hitting her again if she won’t eat.
“Eat,” he orders. “I am not taking you home until you’ve finished your meal, and then we can really celebrate.” His expression is so heated, so raw, so commanding. I am melting.
“I’m not hungry. Not for food.”
He shakes his head, thoroughly enjoying himself, but narrows his eyes at me just the same.
“Eat, or I’ll put you across my knee, right here, and we’ll entertain the other diners.
He then says that she doesn’t eat enough, and she both likes being this skinny but doesn’t want to dwell on why.
“Eat this,” he murmurs, his voice low and seductive. I willingly comply.
“You really don’t eat enough. You’ve lost weight since I’ve known you.” His tone is gentle.
I don’t want to think about my weight; truth is, I like being this slim.
Day 10: Ana’s friends notice she lost weight
Kate has noticed Ana has lost weight, after not seeing her for only two weeks. She also manages to sound negatively concerned and happy with Ana’s appearance at the same time:
“You’ve lost weight. A lot of weight. And you look different. Grown up. What’s been going on?” she says, all mother hen, concerned and bossy. “I like your dress. Suits you.
Day 11: Ana makes birthday food for Christian, who is annoyed she’s wearing a short dress
Ana makes Christian breakfast in bed and then “watercress, cilantro, and sour cream dip to accompany the salmon” for his birthday lunch, but he’s annoyed when he sees her set the table, because he dislikes her short dress.
“You like it?” I give him a quick twirl. It’s one of Caroline Acton’s purchases. A soft turquoise sundress, probably more suitable for the beach, but it’s such a lovely day on so many levels. He frowns and my face falls.
“You look fantastic in it, Ana. I just don’t want anyone else to see you like that.
He then compliments her on her cooking and she “blossoms under his praise.” She decides to bake him a chocolate cake, and he gets annoyed that she is going outside in a short dress for ingredients:
“I’m just heading to the store to pick up some ingredients.” “Okay.” He frowns at me.
“You going to put some jeans on or something?”
Oh, come on. “Christian, they’re just legs.”
He gazes at me, unamused. This is going to be a fight. And it’s his birthday. I roll my eyes at him, feeling like an errant teenager.
She follows this up with thinking “I have a tiger by the tail. He’s going to be mad when I get back.” at the store. While cooking in the kitchen she senses a “frisson of alarm” and she apologizes to him for wearing the dress and not knowing what came over her.
After sex though, he loves what the cake tastes like and jokes that sex is a good apology. She laughs with relief, which is a really strange first emotion to have after you give someone who loves you a delicious cake. What was she dreading?
Ana’s rebellion here parallels her anorexic defiance. She lashes out in a way to show that she’s not submissive and can defy Christian, but the book critiques her “independent” actions. She repeatedly tries not to eat, and then realizes she is starving. She prank-calls Christian in Book 1 when she’s drunk as a joke, but then nearly passes out so Christian has to save her. She goes to the store and realizes that yes, Christian is right, her skirt is short. She apologizes for wearing the short skirt and apologizes by having sex. But whenever she cooks or has sex with Christian, things are wonderful.
While their fanciful NDA may be finally ripped up, their relationship is firmly cemented in the underlying darker principles of it–that Ana shouldn’t disagree with Christian. If Ana just agrees with Christian, she won’t have to think and things will be fine. If she defies him, things aren’t fine. And she defies him over stupid things, so that justifies his control-freak nature. If she wasn’t such a woman in need of saving, Christian wouldn’t need to be rude to her while saving her.