The world was introduced to Instagram in 2010, a dozen years later nearly 80% of restaurants are on the social media platform.
Academics Emily J.H. Contois and Zenia Kish co-authored “Food Instagram: Identity, Influence & Negotiation,” which explores how social media, specifically Instagram, redesigned how users share their identities through food. “Food, and images of food, are a long part of our history,” says Kish. “Back to cave paintings, people have always been interested in representing the things that we grow, that we hunt, things that we eat, how we consume it.”
Photography brought a new revolution of how humans keep track of, identify with, and stylize food for the camera's eye. The 20th century ushered in a wave of advertising that used art to develop food as an aesthetic category to be commodified.
Contois describes moments of resistance and an “anti-foodporn trend,” where younger users are embracing “ugly” images and push back against notions of perfection on the platform. “We finally finished a book on food Instagram and everyone wants to talk about TikTok, where we see a more casual, even more amateur, and sometimes not even beautiful representation of food taking hold.”
In their new book, professors of media studies Emily Contois and Zenia Kish explore how Instagram redesigned how users share their identity through food. Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Press.