In defence of Instagramming your food
It’s all part of the fun of eating
Although social media has touched every element of our existence, the influence of Instagram is probably more visible in our eating habits than in any other area of our lives.
It isn’t unusual to see people snapping away in restaurants, or artfully arranging their morning coffee, much to the annoyance of those around them.
As a self-confessed Instagram addict, though, I’m here to defend our obsession with chronicling our daily diets.
Food in the 21st century has moved far beyond simple sustenance and our collective psychology surrounding eating is equally complex.
Susie Orbach declared in 1978, “Fat is a Feminist Issue”, and it hasn’t become any easier since. People, particularly women, are encouraged to associate eating with feelings of guilt and shame: food is fetishised as “sinful”, “naughty” or “bad”.
Day after day, people self-flagellate over their eating habits, but the food Instagram is a defiant reversal of this tradition: it proclaims to the world that our food is something in which to have pleasure and pride.
It allows people to reclaim enjoyment of eating. Just as getting ready can be the best part of a night out, the process of arranging and documenting our food can be part of the enjoyment of consuming it.
In the age of the obesity crisis, Instagramming meals also nurtures a more thoughtful attitude to food overall. It inspires people to learn to cook properly, rather than just sticking in another frozen pizza. Everyone can have their Masterchef moment.
It’s also altered our shopping: we seek out independent eateries, trying more adventurous fare than we might if we weren’t going to share it with the world. After all, no-one wants to see an Insta of a KFC.
Instagram also helps people find new places to eat. Spotting a good food picture can be the start of finding somewhere new and exciting. Yes, there are traditional restaurant reviews in newspapers, but these can’t always compete with the sheer volume of information flooding into social media.
I love recommending places with a good photo, and I’ve gained a reputation among my friends for knowing where to source the best food: from the richest hot chocolates to the lightest macarons.
I personally love taking pictures of food. My friends and family all knowingly roll their eyes when I whip out my phone to document a particularly pretty plate in a restaurant.
I spend time thinking about the lighting and angles, and even edit the pictures afterwards to ensure the food looks its best. I do try to minimise the annoyance I cause my fellow diners – and I don’t, by any means, Instagram every meal I eat.
I also try to make sure I don’t bombard my followers with photos. I’m selective, only snapping things that are especially well presented – turkey dinosaurs obviously belong on Snapchat, where they can be forgotten.
The thing is, Instagramming food is a harmless bit of fun. People who hate it need to lighten up a bit and realise that it brings joy to a lot of people.
If you really can’t bear it, don’t complain to me when you can’t find anywhere to go but Nando’s.