October 1, 2022

"Of course, leaning into ugliness — or at least less obvious curation — is still an aesthetic choice, intended to signify an irreverence or a rejection of norms...."

"As Alicia Kennedy writes: '"Bad" photos are in, but the thing about them is that they’re not really bad or even insouciant: They’re just a different approach, less big bright lighting, a little grainy, still beautifully plated.'... This trend toward DIY-looking food also opens up the door to greater inclusivity... For disabled and neurodivergent people who have trouble with fine-tuned decoration or people with disabilities who live with inaccessible kitchens where it’s hard to cook, much less stage a meal, 'the shift to DIY helps with the pressure'.... [S]eeing other people... unafraid to make work that looks amateur, imperfect, and unprofessional has given me a sense that it’s okay to do the same.... The pressure of showing the 'right' thing on Instagram isn’t entirely alleviated, but I’ve found a space where it’s okay to have realistic ambitions...."

From "The Great Food Instagram Vibe Shift/The food blogger aesthetic has given way to something more realistic and DIY: Laissez-faire Instagram food is here" (Eater).

It's nice to see social media trending toward what is comfortable and doable rather than strainingly aspirational. This article is about food and photography, but I think it's a more general trend, reminiscent of the late 60s, early 70s, when naturalness and ease felt like the essence of beauty and meticulous striving looked awful.

I mean, just to poke around at Eater, here's "Best Dressed/What Are We Wearing to Restaurants Now, Paris? At Folderol, a combination natural wine bar and ice cream shop in Paris, neighborhood block party vibes feel distinctly Parisian." 

A French woman — complimented for looking "quite put together" — says "The cap was brought from the U.S. by a friend of mine, which is why I like it so much. These are my new Nikes and they are the most comfortable sneakers on earth; I feel like I have a marshmallow on each foot."

Remember when Americans were told that we stand out as obvious Americans in France because we wear sneakers? There are many photos at that link and most of the Parisians are wearing sneakers. And none are wearing try-hard shoes. I'm seeing Doc Martens and Birkenstock clogs.

24 comments:

Sebastian said...

"naturalness and ease felt like the essence of beauty and meticulous striving looked awful"

Observing the shallow phoniness of it all felt like discovering the essence of self-delusion and the awfulness of cultural decline.

Mike said...

Ah photographing food. ROTFLOL Once cell phones became ubiquitous life, food, meetings with people didn't really happen until you took a photo. For much of my life I relied on my visual memory. Which makes me an outcast amongst that portion of the world that relies on cell phone photos.

And now there's the horror that Mom's home cooking--when photographed on a plate--won't match up that so joyfully photographed at say Olive Garden--where I wouldn't eat anyway. I know it's said that one eats with the eyes as well as the mouth--and that's true. And artful plating may make up for lack of skill in the skillet. But why bring the competition into the home kitchen?

Whiskeybum said...

Having just returned from a week in Paris, I can corroborate: the preferred footwear there was the sneaker, and in particular, white sneakers.

It actually makes sense to wear sneakers there; walking is the best mode to see the city, but the uneven sidewalks, cobblestone side streets and pebbled garden walkways make for difficult walking in any kind of dress shoes with raised heels.

MikeD said...

What Sebastian said!

ConradBibby said...

This sounds like a programmed attempt to lower society's appreciation for what constitute the good things in life so we won't miss them as much when the commies take them away.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

Is this a crack in Althouse anti-shorts armor?

I'm expecting a WAPO fact-check style response.

effinayright said...

Americans could be id'ed in France by their sneakers?

Well, what about all the beret-wearing, moustache-twirling guys in red-and-white striped shirts and carrying baguettes we used to see all over America?

It's a War of the Stereotypes!

wildswan said...

I notice they are rolling up their jean cuffs in Paris. That was the very essence of grown-up, or more correctly cool, when I was twelve or thirteen. It's been gone long time but, well, here we go round again. Next, acoustic guitars and folk singers? Hootenannies? Irene Good Night?
Here to help you back into the true 50'S is that great song, as heard then. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSDyiUBrUSk

Quayle said...

“ neurodivergent people who have trouble with fine-tuned decoration or people with disabilities who live with inaccessible kitchens where it’s hard to cook, much less stage a meal, 'the shift to DIY helps with the pressure'.... ”

The big imposed assumption - the self-projection not recognized - is that other people feel ‘the pressure’.

MacMacConnell said...

They are dressed like children.

Gahrie said...

A "rejection of norms"? What norms? Hell even acknowledging that something such as norms exist is enough to get you cancelled.

Joe Smith said...

Professional women in the U.S. wear sneakers for the train and the walk to work, then change into the fancy shoes with heels.

Women in Japan wear the fancy shoes on the street, and change into comfortable shoes in the office.

No idea why, but I've seen more than one Japanese woman take a hard tumble when her high heel got caught on something on the street...

Eleanor said...

There are a lot of photos of food posted online that make the food look like gray paste. There's nothing wrong with ugly looking food if it tastes good. One of my family's favorites was something we lovingly called "What the Cat Dragged In". But I would never post a picture of it online. What is the point of posting pictures of food that looks disgusting? I think this just another stab at lowering expectations. You don't have to be a professional food stylist, but if the food looks unappetizing, post a picture of your cat instead.

Jeff Weimer said...

I get the impression these reporters are doing less reporting on the current scene than trying to get ahead of it.

It's all useless.

Jamie said...

I hate the phrase "lean in" with a deep and burning passion.

I guess I "lean in" to hating the phrase "lean in."

Birches said...

Umm I clicked over to the Eater article expecting "real" photography. Still looked pretty staged to me.

Mikey NTH said...

When does leaning into ugliness become the norm that we can avant garde away from?

Mary Martha said...

The rolled jean cuffs was what I noticed (like wildswan). Everything old is new again.

Lurker21 said...

Sure. It's the "authentic" and "evocative" that moves people now, and a poorly composed photo may be more moving than an exquisitely composed one.

It was fun to go overseas and wear crappy old clothes and be taken for a native. The thieves would leave you alone, and sometimes the authorities might even leave you alone. Those days, I guess, are over.

Howard said...

One pot schlop: because it all goes down to the same place and always comes out looking the same.

effinayright said...

Jamie said...
I hate the phrase "lean in" with a deep and burning passion.

I guess I "lean in" to hating the phrase "lean in."
**********

To that I would add "reaching out" and "giving back".

Howard said...

The problem with leaning in is because your feet aren't underneath you, you easily fall on your face. Every offensive lineman and judo artist is learned this fact of physics in the first practice. Leaning in only works to it's intended effect in a scrum or push starting a vehicle.

MacMacConnell said...

Notice the the all the rolled up jeans are "selvedge denim" jeans. For the most part selvedge denim jeans are expensive "old school" smaller loomed denim and mostly use in expensive designer jeans. Even a Pair of 501 Levi's selvedge denim jeans are over $100 now. All Levi's demin jeans till the mid 1970's were selvedge denim jeans and cheap. Thanks to Globalism and MBAs.

Bunkypotatohead said...

There's always someone to rationalize the lowering of standards.
Why take nice photos of the sunrise at the lake when you can do something half assed. Maybe photoshop lizzo in there for some earthiness.