Instagram Food Culture

 

Ramona Kramer, Switzerland

Instagram. There is basically no person in our generation who hasn’t heard that word yet or who even doesn’t use this app. In June 2018, there were nearly 1 billion monthly users and 500 million daily active users – with an upward tendency. Over half of the users are between 18-24 and on an average day, 80 million photos are shared.

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Admittingly, I use Instagram every single day and I love to look at new profiles. Especially in the last few years, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of fitness accounts coming up, posting pictures of healthy food and promoting new weight loss products on a daily basis. This can be great for inspiration and motivation, but it can also put a lot of pressure on young, influenceable users that think they also have to eat perfectly healthy all the time in order to get the “perfect” body. Every Fitness Instagrammer pretends to know what’s best for everyone. For example one says only to eat vegan, the other one to cut out bread and gluten, the other one to eat 1,000 calories a day, etc. This can be confusing and lead people into a dangerous direction of a wrong self image and an obsessive lifestyle.

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I’ve been influenced by this trend before and I know some other people who have changed their eating habits because of Instagram. So, I was wondering how many other young females have had that experience with Instagram or if and how they are affected by this trend, positively or negatively. To get more information, I created a survey with questions related to this topic and I sent it to females, all between the age of 17 to 19. The answers were quite interesting.

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Out of 10, only one of the surveyed people doesn’t use Instagram. The rest are on this app multiple times daily. Only one person follows no account with posts related to healthy food, the others do, and half of them have already tried out a food recipe from one of these pages. Contrary to my expectations, no one has ever bought a weight loss product promoted on Instagram. Still, almost 70% feel pressured to eat healthy seeing these pictures and 30% even feel bad when they eat food that is considered “not clean”. One of the young women gave an interesting answer to the question of whether or not she sees these posts as an inspiration or bad influence. Her answer was: “As long as it is about healthy lifestyle, I see their posts as an inspiration. I don’t like posts about how to lose weight because I don’t feel like I have to lose weight, but the posts make me feel insecure about my body.” This is also where I see the biggest issue: This influence can make us suddenly feel bad about ourselves for things which seemed normal to us before.

Posting these pictures can’t be stopped and as long as Instagrammers want to be inspirational, it also shouldn’t be stopped. Still, there should be more focus on what makes you feel good and happy rather than what could lead you into an obsession with food and fitness. We forget so fast that the people who post these pictures are only human as well, and everyone can post his healthy salad and eat a cookie afterwards without sharing the dessert with the world. What you see on social media is never the whole truth, it is just segments of a life and everyone can decide what they want to share and what not to. So, in conclusion, try the healthy oatmeal for breakfast, but also enjoy your In n Out Burger without worrying about it.

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