Yuri Chang | I hate you, but I love you
How photogenic is your calzone?
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 08:10
As an Asian American female college student, I think I can safely say that I fall under every demographic of people who are most likely to take pictures of food. I have the Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds to prove it. Every time I log in, I can guarantee that there will be a profusion of photographs of meals just waiting to be viewed. Let’s dissect this a bit further: according to data charted by Facebook, people between the ages of 18 and 35 are the largest age group of Facebook users in the United States. Furthermore, women have uploaded and have been tagged in twice as many photos as men. To prove my point to you not so quantitatively, the tumblr AsiansTakingPicturesofFood is both highly entertaining and effective in pointing out a trend within the Asian community.
Despite the fact that I fall under these categories and should therefore be a frequent food-uploader, I have to restrain from rolling my eyes each time I see an Instagrammed photo of a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. I spent many a night pondering why people would feel compelled to upload such photos, and have come up with several theories to explain possible causes.
First, we have the Cultural Capital Theory, also known as the “Aren’t you jealous of this meal I just consumed?” hypothesis. These food photos are perceived as assets to one’s image just like intellect or style of speech and dress. People like to post photos of the fresh oysters that they had at Tom Colicchio’s newest restaurant just as people take photos in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. We’ve all seen her portrait a million times before, but your photo serves as proof that you were there and saw it with your own eyes — or in this case, ate it.
Next is the Proud Mom Theory, which is when people upload photos that display their own culinary creations. After you’ve spent five hours slaving over that pumpkin pie you made from scratch, you want to show off your work like the proud mama who birthed you and watched you grow up and go to college. You glow at the Facebook comments that come in with encouraging words such as “Looks delicious!” or “Drooooool” or my personal favorite, “NOM NOM NOM.”
And finally, we have the I Just Really, Really Love Food Theory. Food has been universally celebrated and cherished for centuries, and we can’t help but associate our loved ones with fond food memories. It’s natural that people would want to share their special food experiences with the rest of their friends, and social media makes it that much easier.
Noticing the growing trend of food photography, camera companies such as Nikon and Sony have even gone so far to include a special “food” setting on their latest lines of cameras. Camera-users can now capture every bit of oozing Gruyere cheese and drizzled balsamic vinegar reduction in 10.2 megapixel macro-precision.
But of course, not every meal is worthy of an upload. Standards must be upheld, which is why one should first ruminate, “How photogenic is this burrito that I’m about to eat?” Is it special enough to be worth posting to the interwebs? Will it garner the comments expressing jealousy and hunger that one hopes to receive in such an upload?
Whichever theory you may fall under, I resign myself to the inevitability that food will continue being a presence on my Facebook newsfeed. As a self-proclaimed foodie I probably love to eat more than the average person, which is why if I had my way, I would mandate this compromise: that each person be allowed two — and only two — food uploads a month. That’s right, pumpkin-spice-latte-girl. I’m looking at you.
Yuri Chang is a senior majoring in international relations. She can be reached at Yuri.Chang@tufts.edu.