In Defense of Food Porn/Fat People Stories

So like (insert arbitrary made up percentage here) of Internet users under 30, I use Instagram. I’m not the most active poster and never was, but once I got a phone with a decent camera, and especially since I moved to New York, I’ve found more and more opportunities to snap off a photo of something interesting/pretty/funny/etc. Generally, I’m pretty happy with most of the things I put on there (a few drunken instances of “THERE’S TOTALLY ENOUGH LIGHT–oh wait” notwithstanding).

However, I’ve noticed a new contrarian trend that’s been popping up for lo these past few months (an eternity in Internet-time): the Anti-Foodporn Contingent. For whatever reason, the ever-growing slice of the online community that uses a heart-stoppingly amazing triumph of technology and communication to bitch about everyone and everything (yeah, I know, irony) has decided that it is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE to post pictures of food to Instagram.

The justifications for this attitude have been wildly varied. Most people just tell me it’s “annoying” but can’t really give me any explanation beyond that vague word, and one author has claimed that people who post pictures of their food to social media are more likely to have eating disorders (hrm…). Overall, there seems to be a pervasive attitude: pictures of food, or “Foodporn”, in the common parlance, is totally lame. It even seems to be viewed as pretentious.

Is posting a picture of some particularly amazing meal you ate really worse than or equal to, say, posting constant pictures of your kids or cat? I’d say no, because EVERYBODY likes food (except people with certain eating disorders, I suppose). The only argument I can think of for being violently opposed to Food Porn is the suggestion that posting amazing meal after amazing meal comes off as a bragging, but isn’t that also true of people who post beautiful shot after beautiful shot from their amazing vacation most of their friends can’t afford?

My justification: I love food, and I think food is a social experience. I would much rather go and eat at some amazing restaurant with a big group than by myself, so it’s only natural that this would extend into “social” media. It’s also a great way to expose people to new places or types of food (“OMG what is THAT”), and hell, it might just make somebody’s shitty day a little brighter. I guess my nasty retort will always be that the Internet is steeped in annoying garbage, and nice pictures of tasty food is pretty innocuous compared to some of the garbage I’m subjected to daily on my social media feeds (Amanda Bynes, anyone?).

Speaking of social media and diabetes, I stumbled across the best/worst/best again place on the Internet. It’s a subReddit called “Fatpeoplestories”. It’s basically a content dump of stories built around the premise of “fatlogic”. Fatlogic is a word used to describe the attitude that is so very present in the frightening-as-balls “fat acceptance movement”: the idea that some people are just going to be fat no matter what (which does happen, but not nearly as often as people like to pretend), that anybody who isn’t fat is somehow oppressing them by not being fat, and that society as a whole trying to move towards a more healthy lifestyle is “discrimination” against fat people. Really, it’s mostly made up of stories about fat people being huge entitled jerks for no reason (and when I say fat, I mean ENORMOUS. Most people put guesses for height/weight in the posts, and they usually top 350 lbs).

Needless to say I feel a lot of schadenfreude cackling at these stories (I’m a sucker for r/justiceporn too, and I consider this a dietary offshoot), but then I discovered something very odd. Most of the people on r/fatpeoplestories are fat!

Huh? Apparently, it started as some sort of thing that fitness junkies were doing, and then the sub spun off as some sort of weird motivation-type thing. They have a a day called “fat 2 fit” in which members tell their own stories about how they used to be mired in fatlogic, and now they are no longer fat or they are well on their way to not being fat.

It’s more or less the RED ASPHALT of obesity.

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4 thoughts on “In Defense of Food Porn/Fat People Stories

  1. The food porn thing doesn’t annoy me, but I also don’t really understand it. Pictures of food really do very little for me, I mostly like to eat and smell it. This likely extends from my total lack of concern for the presentation of food. You could shape it like a dog turd and if it tasted awesome I’d still love it. Whatever part of a person longs for visual aesthetics in food is totally absent in this guy.

    Also regarding the fat acceptance thing, I think there are different aspects of it. I think the people pushing for it do have a great point in that we treat fat people like shit, especially women. There is pretty much never an excuse for that.
    They also raise the point that people are fat in different ways. Some people are fat and are perfectly healthy, whereas some people are fat and are probably going to have a heart attack by the time they are 30. It matters less how much you eat and more what you eat. There are a number of people who way a fraction of what I do that have worse blood markers for cardiovascular disease than me. What I have understood is more that you can’t just assume someone is unhealthy because they are fat, it doesn’t correlate as neatly that way as people once thought.

    • Sure, actual fat-shaming is never acceptable, yes, we are unduly obsessed with body image in this country and most other countries. However there is an alarming amount of unhealthy living hiding behind the veil of “fat discrimination” that’s kind of disgraceful. Yes, there are people who are overweight who aren’t necessarily going to keel over and die, but there is definitely such a thing as weighing too much and a great deal of that is due to poor lifestyle management. Fat acceptance as a whole is dangerous because it reinforces the notion that people are powerless over their bodies, which, more often than not in the terms of diet and lifestyle, just isn’t true.

      You can be skinny and unhealthy, certainly. It’s far less likely that you are very overweight or obese and healthy (that is really what I mean when I use the word “fat” in these sentences).

      And to clarify, these stories are about extreme examples of people making clearly terrible decisions and then lashing out at people for no real reason. They aren’t just “I was at the mall and I saw a fat dude so I made him slip on a banana peel! LOL”.

      • Now that you mention it, I miss stories about people slipping on banana peels.
        I wish I could read Reddit, but something about the way it threads makes me lose attention. It is a shame, because I think some of it could be awesome.

  2. And also I agree with what you said, I wasn’t just trying to ignore your response by talking about terrible slapstick.

    My only caveat is that I think Americans in general eat terribly and make terrible life choices. When I lived in Japan I somehow ignorantly thought being terrible at life was something the Japanese excelled at. Damn was I sad when I came back to the U.S. We are champions as well.

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