People love to post pictures of their food on social media.
But there’s a growing backlash to the perfectly styled food photos we see on lifestyle blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Whether intentionally gross (see “Canned ham, pineapple, and flaming Cheetos sandwich” above), or just poorly photographed, “foodie fails” are cropping up on Twitter, Reddit, and other corners of the internet.
Bad food pictures really took off last November when Martha Stewart became a lightning rod after she posted a series of unappetizing pictures to Twitter.
Stewart has since either discovered editing tools and filters, or hired a social media director, since her food pictures have vastly improved. But they became a viral joke, with people asking if Martha Stewart took a picture whenever an awful food photo appeared.
Stewart’s photos were also immediately picked up by Reddit’s /r/sh***yfoodporn. The subreddit has been around since 2012, and has amassed almost 54,000 followers. The community promises its readers pictures of — what else? — “sh***y food,” outlining in its rules that “Edible looking submissions are subject to removal without notice.”
Though it was started two years ago as a community, it has continued to grow in popularity, even becoming a trending subreddit last month.
The community frequently uploads images of unappetizing food combinations, poorly photographed food, and any meal that looks disgusting but that Redditors claim to be delicious.
“Wonderful five-day-old pizza with barbecue sauce smothered in high-quality Velveeta Mac n Cheese,” said one poster. Redditors responded with “This looks like the embodiment of a good choice” and “I love you.”
While some of the pictures are vaguely disgusting, they are a refreshingly honest departure from those stylised and filtered brunch shots, which Anthony Bourdain once called a “dysfunctional, even aggressive practice” in The Wrap.
“You don’t want people to be eating dinner with you when you Instagram a picture of your food,” he said. “You want them to be eating a bag of Cheetos on their couch in their underpants. It’s a passive aggressive act.”
Whereas the goal of most food pictures is bragging rights, /r/s***yfoodporn rejoices in awful photography and cooking — it’s Pinterest Fails, but with food.
And /r/s***yfoodporn is not alone. An Instagram account called cookingforbae, which is dedicated to “struggle plates,” exploded last year. With over 132,000 followers, cookingforbae posts some of the worst food photography fails across the internet.
#struggleplates has become its own Twitter hashtag, and Tumblr is also in on the action with Dimly Lit Meals For One — the name itself is the antithesis of most braggy “food porn” photos. Dimly Lit Meals For One suggests the exact opposite — food eaten quickly and alone.
Though it might not be the most appetizing of food trends, it’s certainly one of the funniest. And as long as food bloggers continue to show idealised and impossible-to-replicate pictures of food, there will be people who joyfully ridicule our horrible-looking meals.