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Instagram Users Warned, Food Photos Might Be Dubbed Racist

Update Date: Feb 25, 2017 08:20 AM EST

A professional food photographer has identified a pattern in Instagram posts about food that might be classified as racists. People should take time to educate themselves about the culture associated with a given food.

Celeste Noche is a professional photographer in Portland, Oregon. She has observed that a lot of food photos, not just on Instagram but also on gourmet magazine spreads, wind up being stereotyped and misrepresented.

Noche said that some people have always thought the Western culture is the status quo. Anything other than that is just considered "other." This could lead people to exotify food photos in their Instagram or other social media posts. Some are also quick to accessorize utensils or condiments that are not even used in a certain culture.

Food stylists or photographers need to do proper research before posting on Instagram. An example, according to Noche, is a pair of chopsticks photographed sticking out of a bowl, or plunged vertically into a bowl of rice. In some Asian cultures, this is rude or sometimes symbolic of death.

Last year, Saveur featured two dishes styled on mahjong table. After some reaction from the readers, it was later explained that the mahjong table was homage to the chef's father at his restaurant.

Instagram food photos, or anywhere else, conveys more than what is simply in the photo. It offers insights and interpretation of the world. Eating a specific dish might be casual for some, for the others it could be a direct link to their cultural heritage.

Noche advises to learn more about food before posting on Instagram. If it is unfamiliar, one should make a research or talk to a person from that culture. One should never also call a food gross or weird just because it is unusual. Food should not be merely fashionable especially if it has a long history in a country's culture.

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