10.12.2008

Am I promoting food porn? Please weigh in.

I am giving you the most luscious images that I can pull out of my camera today, because I want to ask you a question: am I promoting food porn on my small corner of the interweb?

What is food porn? you may well ask. Please see the following wikipedia article on the topic for more detail: food porn 101. In brief: food porn is the use or distribution of salacious images of food, often used in advertisements, that suggest the consumption of food as a substitute for sex, or the consumption of food porn as a substitute for food.

To quote wiki: "In much the same way that pornography can be a vicarious substitute for actual sexual relations, 'food porn' is seen as a substitute for actually cooking and eating the food in question."


Hence the problem. Am I unwittingly encouraging you to substitute food photos for actual food?

I post nice images of the food that I make here on my site about food and eating disorders, and some of you may be wondering: what is she doing? Is this a kind of "have your cake and eat it too" endeavor? Am I trying to tempt myself or tempt others? What is going on?


If you haven't been here from the beginning, let me reassure you that my intention is not to enable food restriction among my readers. Quite the contrary. I make good food because I eat it; I share it with you not to sell a product or allow you to vicariously experience my dinner, but because I want to share my love of food with the kinds of people who may need that love the most: people who suffer from disordered eating, in one form or another.


I made this food by hand, laboriously and carefully, for myself and for the people I love. I share it with you, my readers, because I want to encourage you to do the same. I hope that, if you are afraid of some aspect of food, you can feel emboldened by my images and my stories, and begin to cook again for yourself. I want to help you to expand your notion of what food is, because I believe that restricted notions of what food is may also contribute to eating disorders. This is why I post these photos, and why I take such care in documenting the food that I eat -- because it is really quite ordinary, and yet marvelous, to be able to care about food in this fashion.

What do you think of "food porn"? Have you come across this term before? Are you a "consumer"? Where does the line get drawn between food images that help you in maintaining a healthy attitude towards food, and those that don't?

~Ai Lu

8 comments:

ania said...

Dear Ai Lu,

Ummmm, whaaaat?

Wow.

That's a really....strong term there. I'm responding because you seem sincerely concerned about this.

Simply stated, no.

I mean - technically, only you have the capability to know what you are promoting - but I have no doubt that it is not the viewing of images of food in place of actual food consumption - to encourage restriction.

But really? People are going to use what they read or see for what they choose. However, the spot of the internet that you've begun to create here does not lend itself to that. My suspicion would be that photographs used to mentally satiate hunger would lean to the extremely glossified, over-the-top so-called "bad" foods. Maybe gourmet fare. But even if you chose to post photographs of such things, in your context, they still would not qualify.

As with other things, it's sad when something can be sullied in such a way.

Ai Lu, I truly appreciate what you share here, and the way that you express yourself and illustrate your mind-meanderings.

With support and gratitude....

Ai Lu said...

Thanks for the reality check, Ania.

I know what I am trying to do on my blog, and I hope that it isn't misinterpreted by readers, but when I started to read about "food porn" it seemed like there was a whole other aspect of food photography that I hadn't considered before -- the kind that really is about "having your cake" without eating it. I do not want my blog to be like that; I want to show images of food as NOURISHMENT, not temptation. But I also want to be able to show delectable, dessert-like foods from time to time, too, to talk about what it is like to eat these "forbidden" treats, and to move on.

Thanks for such an emphatic response, and for your reassurance.

Ai Lu

Carrie Arnold said...

If someone is equating good food and gorgeous photography with food porn, they have their priorities seriously screwed up.

To someone with an ED, the most random things can be triggering. But it's their responsibility to avoid things that aren't gratuitously so (like weight loss tips), not your job to adjust your blog accordingly.

And you don't post photos with an ulterior motive. You're not selling anything. That's where I think the "porn" part would come into play. And I just don't see it.

I love your photos. They help remind me about the simple joy of food. Have you thought of freelancing as a food photographer? A woman my dad knows quit her job in distribution for a famous Detroit-area bakery/deli (www.zingermans.com) and is trying to make her way as a food photographer.

Charlynn said...

Ha, I just wrote about this and linked to your site as one of the best that is NOT food porn. If all your site was just a bunch of pictures of gorgeous-looking food, *then* you'd fit into the food porn category. But your blog is far more intellectual than that. I repeat, your blog is NOT food porn. It is very well-written, is interesting to read, and yeah, the photographs are awesome, too. :)

Yorke said...

I don't think this at all - and I hope my admiration of the photos on the "witches" post didn't spark this inquiry... I actually enjoy the photos knowing that you do in fact eat the food and take care in making it - that sort of activity has been absolutely vital to my recovery. Cooking, taking time, appreciating meals for myself and husband are important for me to stay on track.

Cammy said...

Absolutely not! The blogs I find to be "sketchy" are the ones where people photograph every bite that passes their lips. I enjoy your posts, and the nature in which you post photos and discuss food is definitely not "food porn," it is often inspiring because you discuss feelings and cultural things, not calories, etc. ;) No worries!

Lisa said...

Not at all! Your photography is absolutely gorgeous, and they way you write about food captures its many functions and meanings. Please keep sharing your pictures and words.

Ai Lu said...

What resounding agreement from all of you! I am so touched that you see my site for what it is: as a place to talk about the delights of food, while recognizing the disorders that may go alongside, too.

I'll keep posting my photos, and stop worrying about whether or not I'm coming off as a food pornographer.

Thanks,
Ai Lu