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F O O DH. IFNAA KS OH I O N .

MILLENNIALS.

That’s How She Eats R E - E N V I S I O N I N G T H E P O R T R AYA L

OF FOOD AND FEMALE MILLENNIALS I N E D I T O R I A L FA S H I O N I M A G E S Featuring In-depth discussions with ten female millennials on their relationships with food

ANNA WONG 11


HER FOOD

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That’s How She Eats A BOOK FOR GUYS & GIRLS AND

A L L F O O D , FA S H I O N A N D M E D I A L O V E R S & M A K E R S Written, photographed and illustrated by Anna Wong Check out my portfolio on Instagram @AnnaWongYauYuk

Download the Blippar App By scanning the headline on every interview editorial with the app, you will be brought to the webpage that showcases the photographs of the interviewee’s interaction with food captured authentically in a non sexually-objectifying light.


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INTRODUCTION AUTHOR & THE BOOK

ANNA WONG

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am about to tell you a little bit about two of my strongest interests. Since I was a little kid I have always enjoyed reading the editorial sections in fashion magazines as they are filled with beautiful photography and clothing. I am particularly captivated by the energy, emotions and narratives that are communicated through editorial fashion photography. They are like mini storybooks to me. Their wide range of aesthetics can include anything from Juergen Teller’s anti-glamour, Annie Leibovitz’s candid moments to Nick Knight’s avant-garde shots. Unlike product-based fashion photography, editorial fashion photography situates the models and the apparel in a slice-of-life setting, with the goal of expressing the mood, the story, the concepts and the models’ interactions with a particular lifestyle rather than the apparel itself. You can find them in print and digital media including Instagram. Quite frankly, I am also enthusiastic about everything food-related, from the new studentfriendly café recommendations on Yelp, food and nutrition to kitchen gadgets. I view food as one of the greatest gifts that human beings have ever received. Not only is food the only source of our physical nourishments, it also functions on psychological and social levels. For example, it plays a vital role in the construction of our body image; it provides comfort when we are feeling sad; it serves as a marker of our ethnic identity; it brings people together during social bonding; and many more. Food is the most fundamental aspect of life that every individual has the right to receive.

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INTRODUCTION

Food. Fashion.

Millennial audience. The excessive portrayal of thin idealized bodies has been linked to the increase of body shame in viewers. Further, the types of food illustrated and the way she interacts with the food are not truthful to the complex relationships Millennials have with food in real life. They provide a lopsided view of how female Millennials should eat. To name a few, many of them depict western food and junk food and scenarios like stereotypical pretty girls eating pretty food, or depressed girls binge eating cakes. My love for food and fashion and attention to mass media messages have brought me to the purpose of my academic research and creative exploration in my thesis project, marking the end of my four-year study in Fashion Communication at Ryerson University. The purpose of my research is to explore the ways in which editorial fashion images can more authentically represent a diversity of the chosen female Millennial audience, age eighteen to twenty-five, and their relationships with food in an empowering light. CONTINUED

As I grew older I began to pay more attention to the details of a fashion image and other subjects that are portrayed in it other than the types of clothing displayed. The greater creative freedom in editorial photography leads to its inclusion of a wide range of subjects not limited to fashion. I question why specific creative decisions had been made in these images and have become more aware of the ways that mass media affect how audience perceive themselves and the types of messages that have been put out there. Food is amongst the many subjects that is often depicted in editorial fashion photography as part of its narrative construction. I have personally identified a problematic phenomenon in which female Millennial models in many of these images, along with her interactions with the food, are sexually objectified and imbued with sexual connotations. The fetishization of women’s bodies, especially done to sell a merchandise, does not come to me as a form of female empowerment. Likewise, these images predominantly depict Caucasian and thin models, which is not representative of the body and ethnic diversity that exists amongst the female

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Food is the most fundamental aspect of life that every individual has the right to receive Three subsequent research questions have guided my study: 1. What ways of portraying food and female models, in conjunction to each other, grant female Millennials agency over their bodies and promote body positivity?

2. How can these images be inclusive of a diversity of female Millennials, specifically their ethnic cultures, the types of diets they consume, and their body sizes?

3. How can they communicate the physiological, psychological and social functions of food in their lives?

The creative body of the research seeks to answer the above research inquiries, which consists of this book and a website. Interviews with ten ethnically diverse female Millennials between the age of eighteen to twenty-five had been conducted and culminated into the editorials within this book. During the interviews, twenty-four fashion images that portrayed food and female Millennial models had been shown to them. These images were drawn from Pinterest, with their origins being magazines and digital platforms such as Vogue and Instagram. Participants were asked to answer the first two research inquiries after viewing the images. Their responses to the inquiries are recorded within the editorials and highlighted through illustrations, which are meant to visually inspire fashion image makers on the ways that they can portray a diversity of female Millennials in a manner that promotes body positivity and respect their bodies. In addition, questions directed to understanding the physiological, psychological and social functions of food in the individuals’ lives had been asked in order to answer the third research inquiry. These include physical health, appearance, gender, ethnicity, family, social relationships and religion. The information collected had been interpreted through illustrations within the editorials. They serve to inspire fashion image makers in terms of how they can more authentically represent female Millennials’ relationships with food in fashion images.

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INTRODUCTION

A summary of my findings to the three research inquiries from the interviews can be found in the Conclusion of the book. Further, each interview took place at a food setting of the participant’s choice. Participants ordered their food and photographs of them eating and interacting with the food had been taken. These images laid out my initial exploration of the ways that food and female Millennial models can be portrayed in a non sexually-objectifying light and their moment of true selves with the food can be captured. These photographs are exhibited in the website component, a trans-media platform of the creative body in my research. Follow instructions on the front page to download the augmented reality app to access contents on the website. The website, again, serves to inspire image makers on the ways that female Millennials’ relationships with food can be more authentically represented in a positive light. The fashion photographic style employed falls into the candid and street style categories, as authenticity is being emphasized in the research. Fashion photography is not only about aesthetics. It is also immensely commercial-oriented, which demands market research and segmentation, brand evaluation,

and the development of metrics in order to measure the effectiveness of fashion images. Instead of directing the focus to evaluating whether the results of my investigation will yield effective marketing results when used in an advertising or editorial campaign, my research approach seeks to generate the possible ways of re-envisioning fashion images that would empower female Millennials by involving the participation of female Millennial audience. The goal is to propel changes that could possibly enhance the lived experiences of female Millennials as they participate in visual culture. As a Millennial myself, I have identified the salience of fashion images that put down young women, skew their perceptions of their bodies and obliterate their levels of enjoyment from food. I noticed the lack of diversity and authenticity in these images and seeks to unravel the possibilities of what fashion photography can encompass in order to break the notion that images deviating from the ordinary success formula do not sell. The research project will be an initial exploration that may have the potential to be further developed jointly with a marketing focus and quantifiable measures during my future academic endeavour. HOW SHE EATS

Respect. Diversity. Authenticity.

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CONTENTS

01 INTRODUCTION AUTHOR & THE BOOK 07 VICTORIA LITTLE PEBBLES

17 SUSANNA TA C O S 1 0 1 2 7 E N I TA N FRAN’S

37 JEWELLE LOBLAWS 47 HINAKO DON DON IZAYAKA


55 EVA & GINI KEKOU 6 9 K I M B E R LY DINEEN

79 KAELA NANDOS 89 LOK P L AT F O R M

99 CONCLUSION INTERVIEW SUMMARY


01 Victoria White

Victoria is an adventurous eater who has recently been venturing into East Asian cuisines. As a fourth year New Media student at Ryerson University, she pays close attention to the visual culture and media landscape and is interested to have a little chat on the portrayal of female in fashion images at Little Pebbles, a tiny French and Japanese fusion bakery cafĂŠ in Kensington Market.

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LEFT: VICTORIA Victoria standing by the store’s entrance. ENTRANCE Little Pebbles is located in Kensington Market.

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Sexuality is not a bad thing, but you have to think why these models are doing this in the first place. An image is worth a thousand words.

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his place has, I’m not gonna lie, the Instagram aesthetics. Also they have some very interesting desserts like the matcha tiramisu and black sesame latte which you can’t get from anywhere else that I can know of. They make sure ingredients are good and high quality,” Victoria says fervently. The matcha tiramisu and black sesame latte arrived in a wooden sake box that traditionally holds Japanese rice wine bottles and a cute ceramics cup respectively, which ties in with the minimal, organic aesthetics of the décor. Victoria takes a sip of the concoction and examines the twentry-four fashion images. “I think that there is a lot of objectification in certain ways. Sexuality is not a bad thing, but you have to think why these models are doing this in the first place. An image is worth a thousand words and these images

speak millions of words especially with how they are portrayed. The way it is shot, the colours and the facial expressions say a lot about what they are doing,” Victoria explains. “To portray empowerment these images cannot be rude and coy. It can be like ‘I’m just a normal girl eating desserts and whatever.’ Make them feel confident and not be judged.” She mentions that the way the image is understood also depends on the purpose of the artist or the message that the publication tries to get across. “It is very one way or the other in one sense. For example, in this image where the woman is lifting up piles of spaghetti with a facial expression that is implying something else, it could be objectifying women or another sense it can be ‘Hey we have elevated food so much, just stop it.’

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PORTRAIT: VICTORIA Victoria says that to portray empowerment, confidence is a key. She also loves yule log, a memory left by her father.

LEFT: PLANTATION Little Pebbles is embellished with green foliage.

JAPANESE CALLIGRAPHY Victoria embraces the French-Japanese fushion bakery treats in the store.

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I wanna be treated as someone who is valuable and indispensable Not all of them are empowering and not all of them are cheap. It depends on the message the artists are trying to say, what else is featured and not just the image out of context,” she furthers. “Depending on the purpose of the image I will have to say ‘Hey is this good or bad? Will this be helpful or harmful?’ So I have to figure out and decide how to go forward.” When it comes down to body size diversity in these images, Victoria says, “With all these models at least somewhat skinny they are definitely not promoting positive body image. However, body image is a subjective thing. Different cultures view it differently. For me, I’m not a skinny girl myself and I don’t endorse skinny people are more beautiful.” She hopes to see the portrayal of a greater variety of food. “Again, I’m not against people eating what they want but I think there should be a greater diversity, in terms of the variety of food and catering to different people,” she says. CONTINUED

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ALL THINGS DELICATE The black sesame latte and matcha tiramisu arrived in fine ceramics and a sake holder.

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“If you show these different parts of the world in these fashion images, let’s say East Asian or Middle Eastern food, not only will it create awareness but it will also motivate people to say ‘What’s that?’ and look it up. It’s good to share cultures and encourage cultural exchanges. Food should not be limited to specific people, it can be shared across various people and contexts.” I ask her how she would like to see female Millennials and herself being represented in these images. “I want to be represented as a whole human being, someone with inherent value and worth. I wanna be treated as someone who is valuable and indispens-

food over the world,” Victoria describes. “We celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. We tend to switch up our food every year depending on what my uncle and aunt are making. I go up to their houses in New Market for these days. One time we did ribs, one time we did turkey and one time we did ham. It’s mainly western with meats, potatoes and vegetables,” she adds. “My dad passed away when I was three and he loved yule log. During Christmas we would have that for breakfast, so the tradition in my family is to get yule log every year. Compared to my family I also make Korean, Japanese and western food.

Personally as I grew older I think I don’t have to identify as a certain culture in particular. I make sure I’m open to all food over the world. able. Like, ‘Hey this is what a normal regular person would do on a regular day.’ I would want to be a person doing her own thing, eating and drinking in a wholesome not a sexual light,” Victoria answers my question affirmatively while she takes another sip. Following our conversation on the fashion images, we have a great time talking about her personal relationship with food, starting off with her cultural background. “I’m Canadian, but I’m mixed culturally. I have German, Scottish, Irish, and Swedish bloods. Personally as I grew older I think I don’t have to identify as a certain culture in particular. I make sure I’m open to all

I try to be diverse in what I make. I usually go online for inspirations and also talk to my friends about what they eat.” She notes that her social spheres have certainly been re-shaping her perceptions of food. “Interesting case for me. I grew up in a diverse community and a private school where there was not particularly one ethnic group. What’s interesting is that my community is more homogenous now, it’s all Asians. Because of that I start to like certain things more than other. It’s a very interesting life for me. The two main things for me now are western and Asians because of the social relationships I am involved in. CONTINUED

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ABOVE: ADVENTURIST An adventurist in her blood, Victoria eats and cooks food from different cultures.

IN THE ILLUSTRATION Victoria thinks that the portrayal of different cultural cuisines in fashion images will raise audience’s awareness and conversations.

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ENTRANCE SIGNAGE The lamp signage added to the Japanese alley vibe in Kensington.

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Health is the catalyst to everything we do in life Yes we live in Canada but Toronto is very diverse. Once you are in that kind of environment you see things differently as compared to a homogenous community. It’s very good in that your palette is wide. With the influence of different backgrounds you start appreciating different things, which makes it all the better,” Victoria maintains. I ask her if she thinks there is any connection between food and gender. “Yes and no,” she answers. “In general, both genders’ metabolisms are different. That’s just science. Males have more testosterones so they need more protein. Girls have estrogen and they need less protein. But I’m not against girl eating steaks. In a sense there are things I see on Facebook that affect our perceptions of the types of food that the two genders should be eating. I do think that if you are constantly proving to people and doing that too much there might be an issue.” On the topic of media messages, she insists, “I do think that a lot of messages have been unhealthy in a sense that you must eat nothing. Ideals of looking a certain way change over time but health is always what matters in whatever culture. Health is the catalyst to everything we do in life. If the media is selling health food, then

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sure because it’s good for your health. But if it underlies an unhealthy message then it’s not good. It’s good to promote and cultivate good eating habits but when it’s deception it is not a good thing.” When it comes down to the relationship between food and her physical health, Victoria mentions that she is allergic to peanuts. “It affects me a lot because I have to remind my friends every time. I cannot emphasize enough that my allergy is life threatening,” she says. “I have Asperger syndrome so it’s harder for me to like certain types of food because I don’t like the tastes, the textures or how they feel in my mouth. Not that I am allergic to these food. This is different from other people. I avoid salmon sushi or raw salmon because I find the salmon too slippery and I don’t like how it feels,” Victoria adds. Like a lot of Millennials, Victoria is active on social media in search of food ideas. “I’m really adventurous. I eat various things and I don’t have a food I eat all the time. There are foods that I couldn’t have tried otherwise without Yelp or Instagram. When I go on Yelp I usually trust reviews that have ten or more. If there’s zero presence online I don’t really trust it,” she maintains. HOW SHE EATS


HER FOOD

SUSANNA IN TACOS 101 Tacos 101 is a taqueria with colourful décor.

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02 Susanna Ding

Growing up in a Chinese family, Susanna is in her first year of study in Fashion Communication at Ryerson University while working as a creative team member at her internship placement. I’d been looking forward to meeting another fashion student to chat about the topic of food and female in fashion images. We chose to have our discussion at Tacos 101, a Mexican taqueria that sits right beside the Ryerson campus.

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acos 10 offers a wide range of tasty gourmet tacos at an economic price. You can find caramelized pork tacos laid over with pineapple and salsa. “I chose this place because one of my friends recommended it to me. It’s different from other fast food places around the area. Here is more authentic than chain restaurants like Chipotle and Five Guys,” Susanna explains. The vertical rotisserie with a mass of pork shoulder immediately captures my attention as I walk into the store. I start off by asking her to take a good look at the twenty-four fashion images. “Most of them are sexually objectifying,” Susanna comments. While pointing at a photo with the model licking a dribbling ice cream cone, she says, “For example,

in a picture like this, she’s eating ice cream cone in a specific way that is implying something else. In another picture here, she’s nude from waist up and the fruits are covering her boobs. There’s no need for her to be nude but I guess the photographer portrayed it like that.” She continues, “You can definitely change these images. There’s no need for sexual objectification. I know mostly in media this is normal. Though in this day and age with social media it’s different, you can definitely represent a person eating ice cream in a different way. It could be a group of friends all holding ice cream cones and laughing. It could be a lot of people eating around a table. We can definitely celebrate food in a non sexual way.”


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more candid and authentic. Don’t put a secondary or hidden sexual message.” “For example, in this image, she’s just eating cereals candidly. This one too, she looks like she is just enjoying a nice day and eating food with someone else. Represent her enjoying her food and nothing else,” she describes. She furthers, “I don’t think colours or the aesthetics of the photo play as big as a role here, it’s more about the way the model and food interact, and the impression the audience senses.” We then go on to talk about food in terms of her cultural background. “I remember growing up we always have rice and a lot of dishes in the middle and we grab whatever we want,” Susanna describes. “My dad makes the food and he cooks Southern Chinese food. For example, he uses a lot of pork, he cooks soup with lotus roots, pork bones and winter melon, and he cooks a lot of side dishes like bok choy, broccoli, and a lot of tofu.

She makes note on the limited body types that are portrayed in these images in relation to body image. “They are all eating junk food and they have all nice figures, but how come they could eat that and look so perfect? You then look at yourself and feel like you don’t deserve. It’s like a hierarchy is being created,” Susanna comments. She recalls from one of her fashion classes that having diverse ethnic models ultimately may do more good than bad on sales. “We learn a lot about how diversity would still sell. A black person is less inclined to buy something if it was a white model. If it was a black model she would buy it while the white audience wouldn’t be affected. If you can relate to what model is doing in the photo you are more inclined to buy it because you can relate to it,” she recalls. I ask her how these images can be made to better represent female Millennials, she says, “Just represent me in an actual way, nothing too posy and artificial. Something

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But how come they could eat that and look so perfect? You then look at yourself and feel like you don’t deserve.

SUSANNA STANDING Susanna thinks that sexual objectification is not the only way to communicate a woman’s sexuality. IN THE ILLUSTRATION One of Susanna’s family traditions is to invite relatives for Chinese hotpot on Christmas Eve.

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We can defini food in a non

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itely celebrate n sexual way. COLOURFUL ENTRANCE The masks used for Lucha Libre, a Mexican professional wrestling sport, are an icon to the store.

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He sometimes makes curry chicken with potatoes. Usually my dad does everything with a frying pan. He puts everything inside and adds sauce or seasoning, usually soy sauce or fish sauce,” she furthers. I ask her if her family adheres to any food etiquettes specific to Chinese culture, she says, “Not really in my family. But if we go outside with other extended relatives, we are all very hesitant to touch the food first. Everyone sits and waits until the eldest or youngest person gets the food first.” She continues to describe some of the food customs specific to her own family, “On Christmas Eve my dad makes a big hot pot at my house and we invite our cousins and relatives over. He

in high school during lunch time you are eating and talking. From that moment those two are very connected for me,” she says. She also mentions how the food habits within her social spheres have exposed her to eating unhealthy food. “Mostly when I hang out with my friends, we go out to eat. I don’t know why but they always pick the most unhealthy food ever. Even if I wanna be healthy I am tempted to eat those because it is a social setting and why you are eating it and I am not kind of thing. They eat food like chicken wings, pasta, deep fried food, and ice cream,” she describes. When it comes down to what healthy eating is to her, she responds, “I think

A big part of it has to do with media. Even if you don’t think about it you still subconsciously judge people eating based on the quantity. does all the preparation and buys all these food. He cuts them nice and puts them on the table. That brings people together.” “Not sure why it is hot pot but it’s been my family tradition since I was little. Christmas and Chinese New Year are always food related. We are invited to my relatives’ house on Chinese New Year for big dinner. It’s potluck style, everyone brings in what they wanna make. There could be salad, rice, crispy pork belly, sometimes sushi and potato salad. It’s very random and not specific to Chinese food,” she recalls. I then ask her what the role of food is to her in bonding and socializing. “It’s really important. Whenever I was little I associate bonding with food. Usually

healthy eating is eating what you want in moderation, not doing one extreme or the other, dieting or binge eating. I can have a chocolate bar once in a while but also healthy things.” She describes the impact of her food intolerance on her diet. “Sometimes I’m lactose sensitive. It doesn’t happen all the time. Usually I don’t drink milk, I switched over to soy milk. If I wanna eat ice cream I wouldn’t stop myself,” Susanna says. She then talks about how the gendering of food and eating had once made her sway away from healthy eating. “In the beginning of high school I was set on losing weight and I think I was watching what I ate to the teeth. CONTINUED

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PORTRAIT: SUSANNA There’s a big stigma around girls eating too much. Susanna does not have a small appetite and she is okay with it.

BELOW: CHICKEN TACOS Susanna orders two chicken tacos freshly made in the open kitchen.

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My love to travel pushes me to trying different food when I go to an authentic restaurant I see their homeland décor, how they display the food, and the different ways you can eat their food. This opens my eyes and I can see different ways of eating that I am unaware of. It’s a learning process,” she fervently describes. Many younger Millennials are in their university years now and I ask how it influences her diet. She responds, “In the last semester when I was adjusting to everything, school affected me. I was grabbing whatever was convenient and not worrying about my health. Or I would forget to eat. When I eat out it’s usually in a rush and I don’t wanna not spend that much money, so I go to Subway and Ali Baba’s which has student discount. This semester I am bringing more food from home and not eating out as much. You also save a lot of money by bringing food from home.”HOW SHE EATS

My body did undergo some changes but I was more unhappy than I was before because I was not enjoying eating, that’s the turning point where I realized looking a certain way doesn’t always make you happy. High school in general is when you are the most insecure,” she says. “A big part of it has to do with media. Stereotypically guys are supposed to have a big appetite, eat a lot and whatever. I think that’s considered masculine? Girls are supposed to eat not so much, be delicate and watch what they eat. It’s been shown so much that it’s ingrained in your head. Even if you don’t think about it you still subconsciously judge people eating based on the quantity,” Susanna describes her observation. Susanna is less restrictive than before and enjoys trying different cuisines. “I like trying new things and exploring different areas and neighbourhoods. My love to travel pushes me to trying different food. Usually

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LEFT: HOMELAND DÉCOR Susanna loves to see their homeland décor in different cultural restaurants. LUCHA LIBRE A Lucha Libre wrestler. Lucha Libre is an icon used throughout the store.

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03 Enitan

Oyesile Living in downtown Toronto while completing her studies in Journalism at Ryerson University, Enitan, or Enni, chose to meet up in one of her favourite go-to restaurants, Fran’s. She is a food enthusiast and a strong believer in embracing our bodies and listening to their needs. She pays wholehearted attention to the relationship between what the media portray and female audience’s body image. She couldn’t wait to start the discussion about food in fashion images.

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LEFT: ENNI Enni puts on a bright smile while standing behind a Fran’s signage. FIFTIES SIXTIES VIBE The Fran’s tradition began seventy years ago in Buffalo.

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sense. You don’t sexualize the way women eat to sell whatever you wanna sell. Maybe this is a high fashion thing but whatever they are trying to sell is not selling and not working on me.” A photo that shows two models indulging in a large cake happily captures her attention. “This is my favourite. They don’t care however they look, they have cake all over their face. I wanna see them happy to eat,” she points out. She also mentions the juxtaposition of unhealthy food that could possibly trigger audience’s negative perceptions towards their bodies. “I immediately noticed off hand that a lot of these models are skinny, all eating junk food and cake. This brings the idea that only cute skinny girls can eat fattening food but we don’t wanna see fat people eating them. Girls staying so skinny while eating all of this it makes absolutely no sense. It normalizes it. It makes bigger people scared to eat unhealthy food in public because people judge them,” Enni expresses. CONTINUED

rans is a family-owned chain clustered in downtown Toronto. This is the place to go if you want to go for a fifties and sixties retro vibe and enjoy American comfort food classics such as jumbo waffle topped with eggs, or rice and raisin pudding. “So my friends and I come here all the time. This like our place to go. Times we go out, times we get hungry or after party and this is it. Literally so many stuff have taken place here. It’s the first place we think of,” Enni rejoices. While waiting for her all-day breakfast with scrambled eggs, potato hash and toasts, she takes a moment to contemplate the twenty-four fashion images. I ask her how these images serve to strengthen females and show respect for their bodies. She comments, “In a lot of them I can see that they are sexualized with their food.” While pointing at an image with a model lying in a manner that suggest sexual availability while biting onto a watermelon wedge, she says, “This is so blatant. Why are you sexualizing food? It makes no

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ENNI

Try to make them a lot more diverse in sizes, ethnicity, have them be happy, eating what they wanna eat and not sexualizing it to promote.

LEFT: CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD Veronica Lake and Marilyn Monroe marked the walls of Fran’s. ABOVE: STAIRS Bathrooms are located in the basement which was lined with vintage floor tiles.

AMERICAN CLASSICS Homemade apple pies were always ready for the early birds or night owls.

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This brings the idea that only cute skinny girls can eat fattening food but we don’t wanna see fat people eating them Looking at an image that portrays a model gulping a huge pile of tomato sauce pasta in front of her, she maintains, “Imaging is very important and it says a lot. The big pasta image is like taking a piss against people who are bigger, like you cannot be eating that.” “Another thing is, and that’s a big thing, a lot of the stuff they are eating is huge and unhealthy. If they are eating by themselves there’s a problem. Gluttony is not good. Again this can be triggering for someone who does not have a great relationship with food. Show regular meals that are well portioned, ” she continues. She comments on the lack of ethnic and body size diversity in these images. “Again, I am only seeing two people of colour. So when you are talking about women of all shapes and sizes I wanna see a diversity. I wanna see a Black person, a Southern Asian person. She could have been Asian or Latino. They should have added all models of different sizes. Try to make them a lot more diverse in sizes, ethnicity, have them be happy, eating what they wanna eat and not sexualizing it to promote,” she says.

As a Millennial, I ask her how she would like to be represented in these images. She says, “I would like to be represented as how I am in my life. I drink smoothies and eat rice. The goal is to portray everyday people and be authentic.” Next up I want to know more about food practices in her cultural background. As a Nigerian, Enni describes the common meals and cooking methods they use. She says, “We eat yams and eggs every Saturday and Sunday. That is standard. I don’t know why that is the chosen meal of the Nigerian culture but it is. Rice and stew is the Nigerian staple. Oh ma ma, if you buy McDonalds here, we have rice and stew there. We cook the stew in a pot and there is always a pot in the fridge. Those two things are the most universal thing of the Nigerian household. If you are hungry, go eat it. If you are bored, go eat it.” She continues, “In the rice we put salt. In the stew there are tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, those tiny peppers and salt. They put either chicken or other meats. My culture always eats meats last, alway always always. CONTINUED

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A PINK CARDILLAC ELDORADO Model of a personal luxury car manufactured by Cardillac.

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‘You eat your food first and meat last’, my uncle says. Meat is very expensive in Nigeria. It’s kind of like a dessert to them, you savour it. ” She points out the influence of Nigerians’ perception of the body on her body image. “I would say my culture negatively affects my eating habits and relationship with food. A lot of people in Nigeria are slim and muscular because many work outside in the hot sun. People like me and my brother come from western world. Gluttony makes us packed with more meat. When we go back to Nigeria people would be like oh look at you, you are so fat. But in

do. We eat when we are hungry, and I am not gonna eat if you are hungry. I think it’s Thanksgiving that I notice we all sit together, eat and talk. That is the only time. Other than that we don’t,” she responds. She then talks about what healthy eating means to her. “Healthy eating is listening to your body and having all food groups portionately. Yes you can have one coke here and there but don’t make it an everyday thing. For me I strive for at least once a week to have a little cheat. As long as you are eating clean enough, not being too restrictive and rigorous, indulge a bit and no gluttony. Life is too short to only be

Nigerians like carbs. Rice, pasta, and bread are the three holy grail. If I go to the Eaton Centre, anything bready, starchy, and carby. Canada I’m not considered fat at all. They see people who are overweight as lazy. Their perception of fat is different from us. I give them a break because they don’t really understand,” she maintains. “Nigerians like carbs. Rice, pasta, and bread are the three holy grail. If I go to the Eaton Centre, anything bready, starchy, and carby. But also because of again my mentality with food I’m always body conscious. If I put on a pound I’m determined to lose that,” she continues. I ask her what sitting down and eating with her family means to her. “It means nothing because we have never done that. That is not most Nigerian households would

eating vegetables,” Enni notes. She points out that her social life sometimes influences the way she sees her body. “All my friends are fit and skinny. They love the gym, they work out. All of them. When I’m at party I would be subconsciously very conscious of my appearance. But then I think that if you are not satisfied with yourself, you are gonna have a very negative outlook in life. Because I already have this negative thought in my head I see things in parts,” she admits. “There are times if I wanna eat something fatty I don’t like eat it in front of people because I feel guilty. I eat it in private so nobody knows. CONTINUED

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ENNI

ABOVE: BRUNCH Enni enjoys her typical comfort food. The all-day breakfast includes toasts with potato hash and scrambled eggs.

IN THE ILLUSTRATION Rice and stew is a Nigerian household staple. Enni enjoys her food alone with Netflix.

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E N N I

ABOVE: SELF-LOVE Enni realizes that taking care of and listening to her body is essential to building a positive body image.

RIGHT: FRAN’S JUNIOR MENU An illustrated menu from decades ago before inflation.

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FRAN’S

Nigeria is a mostly Muslim country, so pork is not really thought of a food in general 35


ENNI

When I’m having a bad day or have gone through super clean eating and depriving myself too much to a point where I crack, I’d literally go to Popeyes, Pickle Barrel, or Eaton Centre, buy food, go home, close the door and eat eat eat. It’s like an out of body experience where you are watching your body eating but after that you feel so sick and like what did you just do. It’s not even about the types of food but the amounts.” As a Millennial, Enni is constantly exposed to information delivered by the media. She cautions females to look out, “A lot of girls are anorexic and bulimic and we have to watch out for things they push out there. It could be very dangerous. I’m older now but when I was younger it would be more dangerous. There are a lot of skinny girls and many of their bodies are unattainable. Even the models can’t get that body. They’re Photoshopped.” Living away from her family in Brampton to pursue

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her education in downtown Toronto made a difference to her eating habits. “Living in Toronto is the worst thing that could ever happen to my eating. When I’m in Brampton I’d save so much money. In Toronto there’s McDonalds here and there. Everything is within walking distance. All I have to do is walk down the street,” she describes. As a Muslim, Enni describes some of the significant observances related to food. “For Ramadan, we fast for thirty days. There is no food and water at all, from sunrise to sundown, and we pray the whole day. After Ramadan, there’re platters of food for everybody to eat on Eid. There’s feasting and gifting. Food is an essential part of our culture,” She says. She furthers, “We don’t eat pork in our house. A lot of it has to deal with the fact that Nigeria is a mostly Muslim country, so pork is not really thought of a food in general. We just stick with fish, chicken and other meat and beans.”HOW SHE EATS


HER FOOD

JEWELLE IN LOBLAWS Loblaws is Jewelle’s go-to lunch option.

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HINAKO


04 Jewelle

McKenzie Having to study in downtown Toronto throughout her high school and university years in Fashion Communication at Ryerson University, Jewelle frequents the Loblaws at the Maple Leaf Gardens a lot during her lunch hours. Our interview took place in Loblaws’ eatery, an area filled with a plethora of mouthwatering pre-packaged meal options and the nutty aroma from the Nutella Café.

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asically I chose this place because I used to come here a lot during high school. It’s just one block down. It’s very familiar and a place of memory,” Jewelle describes. With a scrumptious selection of Nutella croissant pizzas, crepes and gelato sitting right beside us, Jewelle goes straight to the sushi section right off the bat and gets a box of vegetarian sushi made by T&T Supermarket, an Asian grocery chain that is now part of Loblaw Companies. She explains that she’s a pescatarian, a semi-vegetarian who eats fish and seafood. She snaps open the pair of disposable chopsticks and begins to flip through the twenty-four fashion images. She brings up how some of the images are sexually objectifying women while she looks at an image with a model wearing a

dress with a plunging neckline, revealing a significant portion of the side of her breasts. She is cooking in a classic housewife setting. “She looks unimpressed in the kitchen,” she says. “It kind of objectifies her. She also looks forced and not enjoyable.” She then looks at an image with the model licking her fingers and jam over her lips. “The way she looks at the camera is provocative. This one for sure is super objectifying. She’s in bed with a mask that say ‘bxxch’ while binge eating the cakes,” she comments. She thinks that portraying the models as sad or having a loss of control over the food is not strengthening women. “Many are eating food in a bizarre way to me. She’s vedging out eating all this food,” she says. She would like to see the food being eaten rather than used purely as a prop. CONTINUED


JEWELLE

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LOBLAWS

The images would look way better and attractive if more cultural food are embedded because we would be like, ‘oh wait my favourite food.’ because we would be like, ‘oh wait my favourite food.’ It creates a type of questioning and interest. The homogeneity of these images makes it room for something new and interesting.” I ask her how she would like to be portrayed in these photos as a Millennial. She answers, “The more natural and relatable it is the more I would enjoy it. Less Photoshop. When I see ads that look slightly uncomfortable and so posed they are not attractive to look at and I wanna look away. I mean that’s definitely the way ads look because they believe that’s the standard. I don’t eat my food lying down so why am I gonna look at it. I want the interaction with food feel more real. As long as it is real I don’t really care about the colours or aesthetics, because different photographers or brands have different aesthetics.”

“It’s really weird, you know your parents say don’t play with your food. I mean there are people in the world who don’t have food. It’s wasteful and I don’t like the idea of food being wasted for a picture. I would enjoy seeing them actually eating,” she asserts. She also hopes to see a greater diversity of ethnic culture and body sizes in these images. “Everybody eats food so why not put all audiences. It would be good if audience could build connections and see someone who looks like them and have relatable storylines portrayed, like people go eat with friends. It creates a stronger dialect between the brand and the customer,” Jewelle describes. She furthers, “For sure there are a lot of westernized food like pancakes and spaghettis. There are no culturally different foods. I think the images would look way better and attractive if more cultural food are embedded

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JEWELLE

LEFT: PATISSERIE The Loblaws in Maple Leafs Garden is a food amusement park with a variety of freshly made options.

VEGETARIAN SUSHI As a pescatarian, Jewelles loves vegetarian sushi rolls with avocado and cucumber.

PORTRAIT: JEWELLE Jewelle thinks that models should be posed naturally. Jewelle loves curry with roti and baby kale.

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I want the interaction with food feel more real Jewelle dips another roll into her soy sauce and we begin to talk about the food customs within her cultural background. “I am half Jamaican and half Guyanese. My mom is mixed Indian, Chinese and native Ethiopian. My dad is Jamaican. I have a lot of west Indian influence and eat a lot of spicy west Indian food. I grew up eating jerk chicken, oxtail, and curry,” Jewelle excitingly describes. “Curry and roti are very famous, even other cultures eat it. The curry we have is different from traditional Southeast Asian curry. It has a different flavour. Roti is this thin bread where you make it on a big pan, almost as thin as crepe. There are different types of roti. Some Guyanese puts chickpea flour in it and it is called dhal puri. You pull the bread and dip it inside the curry. It’s one of my favourites.” She recalls a soup that her family makes whenever they are sick. “The soup is a thick spicy stew that contains vegetables, dumpling balls, sweet potatoes, and carrots. CONTINUED

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JEWELLE

PREPARED MEALS SECTION Fresh sandwiches and pastas made available.

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JEWELLE

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LOBLAWS

IN THE ILLUSTRATION Seafood is the only animal protein that pecastarians eat. Jewelle loves sushi.

BELOW: JEWELLE Jewelle standing by the bottled beverage section near the Nutella café.

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JEWELLE

It’s spicy so it opens up your sinus and makes you sweat. The dough ball has a really thick and dense texture with no filling and it’s boiled,” she recounts. Jewelle says her family celebrates Christmas and Easter, “My mom cooks a ton of food at Christmas. There’s this dish called pepperpot. It’s almost a pulled pork stew that takes four days to slow cook and let the meat be tender. I remember being a kid I woke up, we ate the bread dipped into gravy of the stew for breakfast. At dinner we’d eat the stew with rice and other dishes.” Her

comfortable.” She admits that being a vegetarian has attracted a lot of questioning when she is eating out. “A lot of people expect me to be overly pretentious. There’s a big stigma around people who are vegetarian or have specific dietary ways of eating. People think they will project propaganda, but I’m just a strong believer of eating whatever you wanna eat. It’s your body. I know these people who don’t like vegetarianism make me feel super stressed by attacking me and questioning my beliefs. Those moments I don’t feel comfortable

There’s a big stigma around people who are vegetarian or have specific dietary ways of eating. People think they will project propaganda. mom would also make her favourite food on her birthday. “On birthdays my mom would cook our favourite food. Sushi and anything with seafood I’m obsessed with. She’d make things like tempura and sushi for me and chicken and rice for my stepdad. Back in the day we’d build our own pizza on birthdays,” she recalls. I ask how food serves to maintain social relationships in her life, she says, “I bond with people in a food environment. It’s a very calm setting and it makes me feel

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eating. I know they are just watching me in those situations,” she notes. I ask her why she decided to become a pecastarian and she responds, “The reason why I wanna become a vegetarian is that after watching some documentaries explaining animal cruelty, I realize the impact that it had on the environment and all over the world, and I don’t wanna contribute to it in anyway. I found myself more comfortable with becoming pestatarian. I didn’t wanna restrict myself all the time, so I only cut off milk and meat.”


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ESCALATOR TO PARKING LOT This view captures most of Loblaw’s entrance.

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I bond with people in a food environment Her love for vegetables also gives her an easier time to maintain a pecastarian diet. “As a kid I ate tomatoes straight from the fridge. I thought they were apples and I just bit into them. I love them. Baby kale is my favourite food. I put them into smoothies, smoothie bowls and salads. Kale chips are a must for me. I just love the taste I don’t know why,” she describes. I ask whether eating out has become a challenge for her. “Most restaurants have one or two vegetarian options. They’re not always the best, most are fried rice and vegetables. Though I could see now more options are coming up that are really cool culinary arts and fusion food shops catered to vegetarians,” she answers. As a Millennial, being on social media exposes Jewelle to many food options. “I’m always the person who posts the new food on Instagram. I’m always interested in eating at new places. BlogTO is the best. We live in a city with great opportunities and I’m not gonna miss them,” she fervently describes. Jewelle says she also watches a lot of cooking videos for different cuisines. “When I see things that are prepared differently I’m like, ‘wow! I’m interested, maybe I’ll try that.’ There are different palettes, combinations and flavours I never thought of,” she says. HOW SHE EATS .

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05 Hinako Hosoya

Born and raised in a Japanese family, Hinako is in her final year of Film Studies at Ryerson University. Working in film productions, she is both an active participant and a maker in visual culture who is well aware of its happenings. We were both excited to have a little chat at Don Don Izakaya, a Japanese pub she had worked at for two years.

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worked here for two years. It’s part of my home because I know the workers. I recently quit and the photos will be a nice closure,“ says Hinako. Don Don Izakaya is a Japanese pub located in the heart of downtown Toronto. An izakaya is a casual place for afterwork drinking and tapasstyle dishes for Japanese. We are greeted with the sounds of a taiko drum, the staff’s welcome cheer of ““Irasshaimase!”, meaning “welcome to the store!”, along with bamboo-covered décor and a hall of vintage Japanese posters. After we take a seat at a wooden table, I ask her to examine the twenty-four fashion images. “In the ones where she’s looking at the

camera, there’s power in them. It’s like she is talking to the viewer. I find those really powerful, “ says Hinako, pointing at an image with the model looking straight to the camera. This is the power of the direct gaze, one that shouts power and reclamation. “I like camera angles that are not looking down at her, but more straight on and same level.” Camera angle defines the line between empowerment and disempowerment. “But this one makes it look like someone is stalking her. It’s voyeuristic in a way,” she says while looking at an image of the model licking her popsicle, captured in a point-of-view shot as if she was unaware of it.


HINAKO

HINAKO WITH PEAR

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The marble pear was used as a embellishment in the izakaya, along with other similar ones.


HINAKO

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DON DON IZAKAYA

In the ones where she’s looking at the camera, there’s power in them. It’s like she is talking to the viewer. I find those really powerful. She shifts her attention to the sizes of the models and the piles of the food they are portrayed eating and says, “A lot of them are super skinny models, which is ironic, because they are eating a lot but they are still very thin. It’s the unrealisticness that is misleading. If someone has issue with their body type they would feel unfair. I’m sure these models don’t eat like this in real life.” She is attracted to particular images and comments, “I think those are more representative of Millennials. The carelessness and even the ‘broke’ aspect of it. I like this kind of image because it reminds me of a movie I like called Daisies. It’s a sense of carelessness that I like. It’s powerful, girls doing whatever they want. They eat messily. They are just doing whatever. There’s the incorporation of junk

food and everyday food, especially street food, portrayed in more casual clothes. It’s more relatable than these fancy clothes and fancy food. I like these. They are coming up more nowadays.” The server places the two lunch sets that we ordered in front of us. Hinako got the tuna sashimi don which she likes a lot. We start to chat about her relationship with food in terms of her cultural background. “In a lot of European cultures, food comes in different stages. In Japan they come all together. I think the proper way is to eat a little bit throughout,” she says, just about to lift her pair of chopsticks. “We have this thank you gesture before you eat. It means being thankful for the fact that you get food.” While gazing at her dishes, she reveals, “I guess fish is a big part of Japanese culture. CONTINUED

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HINAKO

LEFT: A MASK The walls of the izakaya were decorated with traditional Japanese masks. THE BAR Hinako standing behind the bar.

BELOW: THE PAINTING Vintage Japanese paintings and posters were found throughout the store, another highlight of the izakaya’s décor.

PORTRAIT: HINAKO Japanese put their palms together before they eat as an expression of being thankful for the food.

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It’s a sense of carelessness that I like. It’s powerful, girls doing whatever they want. We do a lot of other things like okra, very healthy too. We eat vegetables and a lot of things that are good for you. One of the sides in my lunch sets is pickled burdock. I think maybe pickling things is a big part of it.” I ask her how her family’s food customs specifically influence her food habits. She responds, “We don’t eat meals together all the time. This is getting more common in Japanese society, where everyone is so busy that we don’t have time to sit down. Sitting together with my family is a good time where we all update and know what’s going on together. I talk to my mom and sister, and get input from both sides. It’s important to me.” Hinako mentions that for New Year, Japanese prepare boxes of food where specific types of food represent different kinds of good luck. “My family doesn’t really do Japanese New Year here in Canada. What we do is that we all eat sushi together at home. We order it, it’s my family’s tradition,” she adds. Hinako points out that her social circles feed into her excitement to try out new food places in a culturally diverse city like Toronto.


HINAKO

SELECTION OF LIQUIOR

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A selection of Japanese liquor offered in the store, including sake, which is rice wine.


HINAKO

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DON DON IZAKAYA

CANCEL

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IN THE ILLUSTRATION Hinako is attracted to restaruants with beautiful décor as they look great on Instagram.

TUNA SASHIMI DON One of Hinako’s favourite dishes. The lunch set comes with side dishes. Don means rice bowl in Japanese.

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VIDEO


HINAKO

“Food comes in whenever you meet up with people. I don’t really hang out at home anymore, so we would have to pick the restaurant that fits the location. I have some friends who are foodies and are serious about food. One of my closest friends is from Boston. She comes to Toronto a lot, and we always have a list of places to try together,” she maintains. Speaking of Millennial food culture, she remarks, “I try BlogTO and Instagram all the time. I would not have known these places without these apps. There are lots of areas in Toronto I would never go to except for food, so they expose me to

perception that healthy eating equals to a lot of vegetables. Get all vitamins, and I guess less junk food. I’m really against McDonald’s and places like that. Though sometimes when I am at school and on the lowest budget possible, I will get bread.” She smirks, “I used to have problem overeating more so. I stressed eat a lot. For example, if I have a film production going on I would constantly be eating snacks. I don’t have that stopping mechanism. I think one part of Japanese culture is that we hate wasting, so I am used to finishing everything in front of me.” We move on to talking about how gender

We don’t eat meals together all the time. This is getting more common in Japanese society, where everyone is so busy that we don’t have time to sit down. different neighbourhoods. There’s the new Michelin star Ramen place in North York. I never go that far but I would for that.” Many Millennials juggle between work and school, and being constantly on the go definitely changes Hinako’s way of eating. “We kind of lost that routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner. I work really late at night, so sometimes I eat dinner really really late. Occasionally at night school I just treat myself to lemon tart from Balzac’s. If we’re on film sets we get catering, so we eat at random times,” she reveals. When asked what’s healthy eating to her, Hinako maintains, “Balance. I have a

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affects her eating habits. Hinako mentions the general distinction in food preferences between a girl and a guy. “When I go out with guy friends, they like chicken wings. They work out and want protein or meat. If I go out with girl friends, maybe the interior and prettiness of place matters more. We also consider how food looks on Instagram,” she describes. Though she also notices that such phenomenon is not set in stone. “I find there are more and more guys who do wanna go to Instagram places. It’s more about personal interests now. It doesn’t matter if girls should like it more or guys should,” Hinako says. HOW SHE EATS


06 Eva

& Gini Being friends and food buddies to each other for a couple of years, Gini and Eva were looking forward to discuss their love for food and how they would like to see female Millennials being represented under a positive light. Our conversations took place at Kekou Gelato on Queen West, a sweet spot for unique Asian-inspired frozen treats and milk teas with cozy dÊcor that’s just perfect to spice up a rainy day.

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LEFT: EVA AND GINI The two have been good friends to each other for a couple of years. MENU Kekou offers a variety of Asianinspired frozen treats and beverages like bubble tea.

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EVA

& G I N I

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here are currently two Kekou branches in downtown Toronto. They sell homemade gelatos, gourmet ice cream bars and boba drinks infused with Asian flavours like Vietnamese coffee and Hong Kong milk tea. “I really like this branch, how it has different flavours that are quite different from a lot of other places,” Eva expresses. “It is also very nicely decorated, so I thought it will be perfect for your photos.” The two are getting a scoop of gelato and a coffee ice cream float with grass jelly to nibble along. We then start off by taking a good look at the twenty-four fashion images. “For me, I like images that capture the moment of true self,” Gini asserts while looking at an image with the model looking straight to the camera. “For example, I feel like by looking straight to the camera, she is trying to express something here, at least it’s coming from the model. ”Whereas something like this where the model was captured as if she is being stalked in secret is not empowering women,“ she furthers

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KEKOU

while gliding her finger to another image. Glaring at the same image that captured Rihanna licking her popsicle in a thighlength top at an a point-of-view angle, Eva comments, “I don’t like this, it seems very provocative. It is showing off a lot of skin and she’s licking the poposicle that could be symbolized as something else.” Eva suggests that a lot of the models’ behaviours and interactions with the food have been sexualized and she isn’t content with them. “There are quite a few but I’ll just signal some out,” she says. “For instance, she is licking the ice cream in a manner that is suggestive of sexual acts,” she expresses while scrutinizing a headshot of a model sporting a tiara and licking a dribbling white ice cream cone. Gini points out that images showing contempt for women isn’t respecting women. She is baffled by a picture with a model in her wedding gown wearing a face mask that says “bxxch” and binge eating cakes on her bed. “One thing I notice is that they try to put nasty girls with nasty food.

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EVA & GINI

I would like to be photographed that I’m enjoying the food and being very happy that there is food — Eva

LEFT: GELATO Hong Kong style milk tea gelato is one of Eva’s personal favourites. TEA SELECTION Samples were available in little tints so customers could have a sniff before choosing.

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EVA

& G I N I

BOOK SHELF Coffee table and recipe books could be purchased in store.

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EVA & GINI

For me, I like images that capture the moment of true self. — Gini And the swear word. It’s a wedding setting too so I don’t know what the image is trying to represent here. I guess that could be changed,” she comments. We then discuss the portrayal of ethnic and body size diversity in these images. “They represent a lot of westernized food and junk food, pretty girls with pretty food. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that but the models are too thin. It also depends on which audience you are targeting too. Having the woman actually liking the food and a food that is relatable,” Gini maintains. When they are asked how they thought these images could better represent themselves as Millennials, Eva responds, “I would like to be photographed that I’m enjoying the food and being very happy that there is food.” Gini adds, “For me it will be more fun”. She then shifts her focus to an image with a model don in gleaming gold jewellery. “The fact that the woman in this image is dressed nicely is empowering too, but it feels too packaged and polished to me. I like the catch of the moment of true self,” Gini comments. After our conversation on fashion images ends, we begin to discuss about food within

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their cultural contexts. Born to a Chinese family with Cantonese, Shanghainese and Beijing roots, Eva is very used to the cuisines originating from these regions of China. Eva briefly describes the distinction between these regional cuisines, “The main difference is the taste. Each region has a very particular taste. In Beijing food there are more spices such as anise. I like dumplings a lot and they are usually eaten a lot more in the Beijing and Shanghai areas. They also use lots of vinegar. As well, Beijing and Shanghai are more noodle-based, whereas Guangzhou, which is Canton, is more ricebased.” She describes what she typically eats on a daily basis, “For breakfast, I drink soup leftover from dinner. Soup is a Canton family thing. Our family cannot survive without it. During every dinner the soup first gets consumed, followed by our own bowl of rice and the sharing of other dishes in the centre of the dinner table. We also do a lot dumplings and noodles since half of my family originates from the Beijing and Shanghai regions. We do Shuizhu fish, which is a special way of doing fish that involves the use of chili pepper and oil. We do some pork stew with potato. CONTINUED


EVA

& G I N I

It is a typical Canton family dish. My lunch usually consists of rice with pork, chicken or beans. Also, I snack on fruits a lot.” Gini comes from a mix of Chinese and Taiwanese background. “My family makes a mix of Chinese and Taiwanese Mantou, which is steamed bread made with wheat flour. My dad and my mom have slightly different versions and flavours. My dad strongly prefers the Chinese version,” Gini says. “My mom likes to make Lou Mei, which are soy flavoured meat and boiled eggs commonly eaten in Taiwan. Cong You Bing, which is scallion pancake, is also a big part of Taiwanese culture,” she furthers.

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overflowed with food. Eva says, “We need to have eight to ten dishes. Although we don’t have that many people we do have to create that much food. That amount of dishes means something good luck, although I don’t recall the specifics.” “For us we also eat a couple of dishes and many of them symbolize certain types of blessings for the year. Fish symbolizes food abundance and orange means fortune and prosperity,” Gini adds on. Speaking of fish, Eva shares her family’s obsession with fish. “We fish a lot. My grandfather and father used to go fishing and because of that we love to eat fish.

Many of them symbolize certain types of blessings for the year. Fish symbolizes food abundance and orange means fortune and prosperity. — Gini Homemade milk tea is a must-have item in Gini’s breakfasts, one of the main forms of beverages that is embraced by Taiwanese. “For breakfast I make my own milk tea with black tea, milk and no sugar, plus either bread or any kind of pastry, definitely something sweet and from the bakery. Since my mom is more westernized as she used to study in the states, she likes to have pastry like I do, whereas my dad cooks congee, which is rice porridge, for breakfast. It’s a typical Chinese breakfast staple,” Gini describes. We laugh when we are chatting about how Chinese New Year is usually like for each of us, one of the best times of the year

We catch fish anywhere we go, bring it home and cook it. We do it many ways. We steam it and sometimes fry it depending on type. Soft water tastes better with pan-fried, and fresh water tastes better when it’s steamed,” she recalls. Gini’s family also has its own unique habit. “We cook a lot of Knorr soups. It’s a widely-used instant soup brand in Taiwan. They come in different flavours. We usually cook corn soup and always have buckets of those at home,” she describes. “Also, my grandma on my dad’s side would cook edamame whenever my dad was there eating with us. It doesn’t do with tradition. It’s more so a maternal relationship.”

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EVA & GINI

IN THE ILLUSTRATION Eva finds that cutting off dairy helps to reduce break outs.

GELATO FLAVOURS You can find interesting flavours in Kekou, such as osmanthus plum berry, a sweet and sour sensation.


EVA

& G I N I

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IN THE ILLUSTRATION Knorr soup is a staple in many Taiwanese family. Gini drinks carrot purĂŠe to cure her eye strain.

ICE CREAM FLOAT Gini orders a coffee ice cream float with grass jelly. Grass jelly is popular in East Asia and is made of plants.

RIGHT: GINI Gini wants to take a nap after spending the whole day at school. Beside her is a bag of herbal tea leaves.

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EVA & GINI

Shortly, we start to talk about the connection between food and gender. Physiologically speaking, both Eva and Gini have their own remedies to relieve menstrual cramps and combat the loss of iron during period. “We do ginger and black sugar tea during period. After period we consume something like red bean soup,” says Gini. As for Eva, she says, “My mom would make me drink ejiao, which is the gelatin extracted from the skin of the donkey, but it’s disgusting.” Gini had observed that the gendering the food does occur and have an impact on the way a female chooses her food. “One of the things about girls is that we shouldn’t drink alcohol too early on. That’s one thing that people and guys judge. Also people judge you on which kinds you drink. If a girl drinks a cocktail a guy would be like, ‘That’s not the real drink.’ But if you take shots, then guys would be like, ‘Shots? That’s too much.’ Also coffee too. Girls are known to have lattes and cappuccinos. If you drink black coffee with no sugar then

that’s considered a bit off the norm,” she asserts. One of the common stereotypes of women is that they tend more to avoid meat than men do, though that’s not the case with Gini’s dad. “It was not like he was a vegetarian, he just tended towards the vegetarian side because he simply didn’t like meat that much and was not really interested in it, which is very different from other guys,” she reveals. In terms of physical health, both Eva and Gini find that cutting down dairy helps them to reduce breakouts. “I tried cutting some dairy and it did work. I can’t cut down on milk tea, that’s one thing,” Gini laughs. “I no longer put sugar in my milk tea, I gained weight and was very unhealthy some point in the past and overtaking sugar was one of the reasons. I have a family diabetes history. That doesn’t mean I will get it for sure but I should be aware of it.” she adds. Eva explains the role that food plays in her physical health. “It’s very important. I did look into a healthier lifestyle, question mark,” she giggles. CONTINUED

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“I realize that I need to take more of certain things and cut more of certain things, and be more aware of my health. I try to cut down a lot of sugary things slash carbs.” Nearing the end of our discussion, we talk about how living a Millennial lifestyle affects the way they view and approach eating. Instagram and food blogs are definitely a big part of most Millennials’ food life. “I eat out more because I have that Instagram account. I take a picture of my food everywhere. I just like to keep a gallery of different places that I have visited. I use it as a landmark of where I went,” Eva rejoices. “When we see something really good and convenient for us to go, I tag someone like Gini and they would do something to me. This is part of social bonding too, it’s like ‘come out to see me and also eat this thing.’” Gini agrees and says, “Whenever I see a really good place but can’t go right now, for example a place in Taiwan, I note it down. In the past people used to note down sceneries, but now it became more about food. It makes up our travel plans.” This connects to the social aspect of food and eating. Gini says, “I think food is very chill. Eating out with friends is an easy way to ask someone to hang out with you. It’s one of the things everybody does. There are different price ranges and variety.

If a girl drinks a cocktail a guy would be like, ‘That’s not the real drink.’ But if you take shots, then guys would be like, ‘That’s too much.’ — Gini

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EVA & GINI

LED SIGNAGE Kekou’s LED signage brightens up its store front at night.

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ABOVE: GELATO BARS Kekou’s gelato bars were coated with delicious nuts and chocolate. POSTCARDS Postcards with cute illustrations were sold in store.

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When we see something really good and convenient for us to go, I tag someone.

— Eva It’s easy to accommodate everybody, big groups and small groups. Since everyone has to eat three meals a day, they don’t have to arrange extra time. It always suits their timetable.” I ask how their social circles affect their dietary choices, and Eva gives an example about dietary restrictions. “I would try to compromise and find a place that will help that person lose weight, for example, because food is very important for staying healthy, that’s what we have been doing,” she says. I am curious if any of her friends happens to change the way he or she approaches food, for example, by becoming a vegetarian, would it affect her similarly. “No, if someone is trying to avoid certain foods it wouldn’t affect me, I’ll still go with what I like to eat,” she smirks. I ask if they actively check food blogs in search of new, interesting food places, and Eva responds, “When I first started my Instagram thing yes, but now no. There’s no need for me to check regularly. I feel exhausted. At first I hyped into trying this and that, but there are too many new places and it’s too hard to catch. It exhausts my interest.” Gini furthers, “I follow but don’t actively check. If it pops up I note it down or tag people.”

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While studying at the University of Toronto in downtown, Gini explains how she would prep for her meals, “ I always eat on transit and always bring extra food. I bring two meals on me in case I stay late at school.” By contrast, Eva doesn’t eat hers on the transit. She explains, “Because my commute is very long, I eat breakfast before my commute. I won’t eat during my commute because of how unstable the transit is.” Gini notes that her generation looks at computer monitors for sustained periods of time and she needs remedies for eye strains. “If I used computer too much I would get carrots and my eyes aren’t as burnt. It takes a long time to heal and carrots help. I cook and blend them into juice and the next day I will be fine,” she shares. The last part of the conversation comes down to religious beliefs. As a Christian, Gini prays before every meal. She also fasts for some occasions. “Fasting is different from going on a diet. It’s a different mindset. I usually fast for two purposes: either fundraising for forty-eight hour famine or praying for a purpose. In a sense fasting is giving up your eating time and something precious to pray for a purpose,” Gini states. HOW SHE EATS


07 Kimberly Eltanal

Kimberly and her family immigrated from the Philippines to Toronto a few years ago, a multicultural food city she has come to embrace. A Creative Industries student at Ryerson University and a Content Coordinator at the Centre for Communicating Knowledge, Kimberly is enthusiastic for fashion media. We grabbed a coffee at Dineen, a boutique coffee house located next to Saks Fifth Avenue on Yonge.

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LEFT: WINDOWS Dineen is a boutique café with contemporary décor. SIDE ENTRANCE Kimberly wearing a pastel pink trench coat.

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ineen is very close to campus. I like the view because it is very beautiful and contemporary. The first time I came here was after my exchange abroad to Romania. It reminded me of Europe,” Kimberly rejoices. While she breaks apart her milk chocolate chip cookie, she reveals, “I really like coffee and tea. They just give me energy. I like lattes, something light taste, nothing too dark, and something sweet. I like green tea, chai and herbal tea too.” Away from the hustle and bustle on Yonge in this cozy café, she begins to flip through the twenty-four fashion images. “These images are beautiful. The colours and contrasts make them seem fun. They are meant to be artistic in a sense,” Kimberly says while looking at an image with a nude model lying down with a variety of colourful tropical fruits like pineapples,

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bananas and papayas. A photo with a black model beaming at a homemade apple pie captures her attention. “This is cute with the smile and happiness,” Kimberly comments. Switching to an image with a model gulping piles of spaghetti, she says, “This one with the spaghetti looks really fun!” I ask if any changes could be made to the images so that they strengthen and show respect for women’s bodies, Kimberly points to an image with a model wearing a wedding dress and a face mask that says “bxxch” while binge eating cakes. She says, “This is putting women to a lower level and degrading them. I don’t want to be portrayed as that. Maybe something more respectable.” To widen the diversity in these images, Kimberly suggests, “All these models are beautiful but not everyone could look like this in real life. CONTINUED

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These images are beautiful. The colours and contrasts make them seem fun.


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LEFT: TEA MENU Aside from their handcrafted coffee, Dineen also offers an assortment of caffeinated and decaf teas.

PASTRIES Kimberly gets herself a chocolate chip cookie and a frangipane tart, a confection made with flaked almonds.

PORTRAIT: KIMBERLY Kimberly tries to eat healthy by having a balanced diet with ample vegetables.

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YONGE STREET Dineen’s main entrance is facing Yonge, one of the busiest streets in downtown Toronto.

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I would like to be respected and not over sexualized I guess most of these models can be more than just skinny. Also have them act in a more natural and healthy way instead of binging and stuffing unhealthy food. I am not sure how to describe.” She adds, “To increase the cultural diversity in these images, portray food that emphasizes their culture without culturally appropriating.” I want to know how she would like to be represented in these images if she is the model, she says, “I would like to be respected and not over sexualized.” As she sips her almond milk latte, we are ready move on and chat about her personal relationship with food. I ask her to describe the ways that her cultural background affects her diet. She reveals, “I am not restricted to anything. In Filipino culture we eat dishes like adobo, pancit, and siopao. Pancit are noodles, siopao is bun, which is a Filipino version of the Cantonese steamed bun, and adobo are meat and vegetables marinated in soy sauce. When I was growing up I ate those kind of stuff.” “To be honest I lost connection to my cultural traditions. I am more lenient towards eating food in downtown now, so my diet consists more of Canadian and multicultural food,” she adds.

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She describes some examples of the food that she eats regularly, “In the morning I have something like oatmeal and eggs. I try to prep meal beforehand just to save some budget and be healthy. For lunch, I have a sandwich with salmon or cheese, or I have rice. I eat sandwiches a lot. For dinner I kind of eat the same thing.” I am curious about the specific cooking methods and ingredients that the Filipinos use and Kimberly says, “To be honest I’m not much educated about the way we cook. We mostly steam the food in a pot and sometimes pan fry depending on the food. Meat is mostly fried. We use pork and soy sauce a lot.” “Once my dad ordered this large meat and

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In terms of eating habits within her family, Kimberly describes that they are very informal. “Our family is very laid back about eating so we don’t really follow the tradition. We try to eat together more than once or twice a week. I don’t know if there are any specific ones growing up. As long as you finish everything and we eat together. Whatever you grab you have to finish it,” she says. “Sitting down and eating with my family means a lot to me. It keeps us connected and I can talk to my parents.” She moves on to describe her family’s religious belief. “Our religion is Catholic, we sometimes pray before we eat. As well, during Lent from February to March, you

We have this traditional thing happening called Kamayan Night. It’s a celebration of the togetherness of people, family and friends. cut it. He used to get a lot of live animals growing up and cooking them fresh. My dad grew up in a farm in the Philippines,” she finishes. Kimberly is part of the Filipino society at Ryerson and they celebrate a special occasion together. She describes, “We have this traditional thing happening called Kamayan Night. It’s about eating certain food on top of a leaf and eating them together. It’s a celebration of the togetherness of people, family and friends. I just heard it from others and do it at school.” I ask if she celebrates any other specific cultural events in her family. “Usually Filipino traditions have not been passed on in my family,” she says.

give up something for God. Sometimes I give up sweets for a couple of months to pray. I also have Communion every time I go to church,” Kimberly recalls. A little later, I ask her what the role of food is in socializing and bonding. “Eating out is a good way to bond with friends. A positive thing depending on how you look at it. I prefer to go out sometimes too, it’s fun,” she responds. When it comes to gender, Kimberly thinks that since gender affects the way we picture ourselves, it also affects our eating. “Guys wanna be more buff and women wanna look skinny, in that aspect. Both genders wanna get fit but in different ways.

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COFFEE GRINDERS Dineen baristas preparing gourmet coffee for customers.

IN THE ILLUSTRATION A Kamayan feast usually includes a high assortment of meat, seafood and rice. It is eaten cutlery free and served on banana leaves.

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to lose track of her time. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t have time to eat something, and I would not eat at all. Last year I was very bad with my budget, I would either eat on campus or buy from outside. In the past I bought food like sushi and bubble tea, anything near the campus. There are so many junk food around downtown, it’s hard to keep a balanced diet. This year I try to make my food and budget,” she says. She also highlights the influence of the use of technology on Millennials’ perceptions of their bodies. “I always hear that they are more digital and on their phones. They are more tech savvy. Media does shift our perspectives to be more skinny, but I think it is getting better at accepting diversity,” Kimberly points out. HOW SHE EATS

I know women who starve themselves and men who eat a lot of protein and workout a lot to get them there,” Kimberly acknowledges. “When I was younger I would try to avoid food in general. I didn’t wanna gain weight and I sometimes worked out a lot. I don’t do that anymore. Mostly I have been healthy.” “Healthy eating to me is not eating too much sugar and eating something that makes your body feel good, so at the end of the day I don’t feel sick. Eat fruits and vegetables, as long as you are eating enough. I tried to use myfitnesspal to make sure that I eat enough calories,” she affirms. I ask how living a Millennial lifestyle plays a part in shaping her eating habits, and she admits that as a university student it is easy

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Sometimes I feel like I don’t have time to eat something, and I would not eat at all.

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RIGHT: KIMBERLY Working as a Content Creator at her internship placement, Kimberly dresses professionally for work.

ABOVE: FOLIAGE Green pot plants added an organic quality to the contemporary dĂŠcor.


08 Kaela

Gordon

A freshman in the Fashion Communication program at Ryerson University, Kaela was excited to exchange her insights on how fashion images can be made to better represent the voices of female Millennial audiences. Her love for food is manifested in her position as a cooking instructor for the City of Toronto, where she teaches pre-school children how to cook. We met up in Nandos, an international casual-dining restaurant home to the African-Portuguese grilled chicken.

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ost of the Nandos restaurants are embellished with vibrant colours and African design patterns, including the one on Bay Street. “I chose this place because in Etobicoke I go here all the time with my friends,” Kaela explains. “My friend was saying that the Nandos in Etobicoke is not as busy. It’s easy to talk and not aloud at all. We also know someone who works there. It just feels like home.” Kaela examines the twenty-four fashion images while we wait for her order of Peri-Peri Chicken Sliders. I ask how these images can serve to strengthen female Millennials and show respect for their bodies. Kaela responds, “We talked about gender and how women are put down so much in regards to food. They

shouldn’t be sexualized in these images. This is so common that people don’t react to it when it shouldn’t be. I would still like to see more empowering women especially in regards to food.” She also brings up the point that ultimately food is one of life’s biggest sources of satisfaction and having the model look happy and actually eating the food would better strengthen female audience versus an image that shows binge eating and negative moods. “They should actually eat the food and not lying with it. There’s no relationship with the food and the person, no connection. The food is just placed as an object,” she comments. She then talks about how these images can communicate greater cultural diversity and celebrate different body sizes.


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Kaela standing against a wall of wooden panels in Nandos.


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They shouldn’t be sexualized in these images. This is so common that people don’t react to it when it shouldn’t be. “There’s no diversity here. Exact same skinny models. In terms of the types of food shown, they are all carbs and all western. Put aside the commercial aspects I guess I would like to see more food from other ethnic cultures. Honestly we live in society where especially in Canada and North America it seems like one type of food is greater than the others. Companies try to attain to the masses rather than small individuals,” she notices. I ask how she would like to see these images to be more representative of Millennials and herself. “I prefer the model and setting looking more natural instead of being too posed, staged and caked with makeup. This way you can relate to it more and it feels real in that you can be one of

them,” she answers. “Even if someone sees food in an image they’ll only like the image if there’s food they like. Say Lady Gaga wore the meat dress, I don’t identify with that. I just don’t like it. It might be a good picture but it is not working for everyone.” An image with two models feeding each other with spaghetti captures her attention. “This looks fun with friends,” Kaela smiles. When Kaela’s order arrives, we discuss the relationship between her Indian-Canadian background and food. “There are a lot of spices in Indian food. We have a huge cabinet of spice, like curry leaves. My mom goes to a special place to buy all that spices in Mississauga. My dad is white so we also eat Canadian food like pasta,” she describes.

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KAELA

LEFT: AFRICAN ROOTS The store was decorated with vibrant colours and paintings. THE WOODS Wooden panels lined the walls and ceilings of Nandos.

BELOW: TEXTURES AND PATTERNS Interesting mixes of cool patterns spiced up the space.

PORTRAIT: KAELA Kaela loves cooking. She thinks that women should be portrayed as happy when interacting with food.

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CU ESSE NOVUM MEA ad dicat consectetuer. Solet civibus no vel. Vitae inermis quo in, nam omnium mentitum ea. Ad

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There’s no diversity here. Exact same skinny models. In terms of the types of food shown, they are all carbs and all western. .

LAMP, SOFA & PAINTING Browns and greens were the colour palette of the store.

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She lists some examples of the Indian food her mom cooks, “She makes biryani, which is chicken and flavoured rice, or butter chicken. Breakfast would be curried potatoes or dosa. I just went to India and we had a lot of those. I never really liked Indian food a lot but recently I have it more because I like flavour. You will see me pouring this Medium Peri Peri hot sauce over everything.” Both Kaela and her twin brother love to try food from other cultures. “My brother loves Japanese food. That’s why we went to

my mom gives up meat for forty days. But me no not at all,” she says. I ask her what sitting down and eating with her family means to her, she responds, “It’s something I’m grown up as a child with. Sometimes I don’t want to sit with them because we argue. I’m sure we take it for granted because some kids just work all time and don’t get to sit with parents. I think if I move out I’ll miss it.” Kaela acknowledges how gender stereotypes sometimes limit the types of food females choose to eat. “Even

If a guy eats too much, then good for him because he has good metabolism. But for a girl, people would question ‘why are you eating so much? Stop.’ Japan. He loves Asian food and its variants, like Korean food,” she says. “But I am picky. I eat a lot of food from different cultures but I only eat a couple of things from each. For example, for Korean food I eat beef bulgogi. I just don’t think I like trying new things. If I tried one thing and I love it, I’ll stick to it. I’ve been coming to Nandos and getting the exact same order all the time.” Kaela’s family is Catholic and Lent is one of the significant observances. “On Good Friday we have to eat fish & chips. My parents are more religious. For Lent season

now there’s so much stigma around girls eating too much. If a guy eats too much, then good for him because he has good metabolism. But for a girl, people would question ‘why are you eating so much? Stop. Do you have an eating disorder?’ There are so many questions,” Kaela maintains. “I know lots of girls who are not comfortable eating in front of guys. Girls feel the need to get a salad or something like that on their first date. Just get what you normally get, mind yourself to be healthy but eat what you would normally eat.”

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KAELA

CHICKEN SLIDERS Kaela orders the same dish whenever she visits Nandos. She likes chicken sliders with an extra side of chilli jam.

IN THE ILLUSTRATION Kaela did not have time to eat in her first year because she was always in the fashion lab. She sometimes packs quesadilla to school.

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THE NANDOS FONT The quirky writings on the walls were inspired by signwriting in Africa.

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Girls feel the need to get a salad or something like that on their first date She furthers, “I’m proud of girls, they are trying to get fit and be active. There’s so much to be a girl.” Kaela explains her motivation to hit the gym,“It’s been put into our brains that girls should be skinny. I go to gym to weight train because I don’t wanna be a skinny girl, it just doesn’t look good. By gaining muscles your metabolism get higher and you can eat more, which I like.” In terms of healthy eating, Kaela thinks it all comes down to balance. “Usually my breakfast is pretty healthy and dinner is a bit opposite. I tend to eat healthy most of the time. I still feel like I’m young and I’m able to eat this food. I know when I get older I might not be able to do that,” she expresses. When we talk about the role of food in socializing, Kaela describes, “Our lives revolve around food if we think about it, especially social events. We all have good conversations when we eat together. If someone is not there they are missing the entire thing. So food is a huge part of socializing.” Near the end of the interview, Kaela talks about how being a busy Millennial in her first year of university has been a challenge to eating properly. “Sometimes I would be in the lab for fifteen hours and I found

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myself only eating one meal a day. I lost five to six pounds last year and it blew my mind. Aren’t we supposed to gain weight in first year?” she comments. Kaela is enthusiastic for cooking, so she chose to teach cooking classes to children on every Thursday and during summer camps. She describes, “That affects my eating too because I wanna eat the food I make. When I teach in the summer we have to have three desserts, three mains and three appetizers. We have to do the entire range and it’s fun.” “I’ll go on Pinterest for the recipes. It’s all about the image of what the food is, whether the image appeals to me.” On the discussion of media and technology, Kaela says it exposes her to an array of food options. “My friend has an Instagram page for food and it’s one of the most popular ones. She posts a lot of food pictures and it makes me wanna go to these places. If something is aesthetically pleasing and pretty my friends would message me. It affects people in different ways,” She says. “I also Snapchat a lot of my food when I go out with my friends, and people say we go out a lot.”HOW SHE EATS


HER FOOD

LOK Lok enjoys taking lifestyleinspired photographs with her friends, which she posts on her Instagram account and personal blog.

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09 Lok T. Lee .

Currently majoring in Business Management at the University of Toronto, Lok is also an active food blogger who has garnered quite a bit of following on Instagram. Having to wrestle with an eating disorder a few years ago, Lok has now carved out a new way for self-love through food and couldn’t wait to share her thoughts on the portrayal of food and females in fashion media at Platform Espresso Bar.

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had been there before so I am familiar with the restaurant. Most people like to go to places they are familiar with. Platform is also cool and it has cute lattes,” Lok describes. Inspired by the concept of trains and railroads, Platform Espresso Bar is a quaint little café with Insta-friendly décor located in Markham. It is known for its Asian-inspired waffle brunches and gourmet coffee. While we wait for our order of the waffle club sandwich and our white chocolate matcha lattes, or Kyoto Love as it is called, Lok takes a look at the twenty-four fashion images. When it comes to how these images can serve to empower women, she says, “I like to see them portrayed as happy when they are eating their food.” Pointing at an

image with the model smiling at the all-day breakfast in front of her, she describes,“Here the lady is happy and is having a proper meal. This photo gives me positivity. I think I like that.” She comments on a photo where the model is looking depressed and binge eating piles of pancakes, “I don’t wanna be sad eating food. Food is supposed to make you feel happy. If you don’t feel happy eating food then you should just not eat it.” I ask how a greater diversity can be shown in these images and how they can be made more relatable to Millennials. Lok responds, “Definitely different sizes for sure. Look at this person. She’s so thin but she’s laid over with all these junk food. Who eats this much? You cannot have that much. Better make it more relatable.” CONTINUED


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She’s so thin but she’s laid over with all these junk food. Who eats this much? You cannot have that much. Better make it more relatable. She then looks at an image with the model in a dress with plunging neckline. “This lady is cooking but she is dressed so provocatively. It’s so impractical and not suitable to the context,” she says. “If the image can be made more relatable then I would pay more attention to the fashion. Like this picture here. It is too messy, she’s even hiding her clothes behind the pasta so the fashion part is hidden. Like yo I don’t eat like this, so I skip to the next photo.” She also says, “Include a higher diversity of food. All these food here are junk food. For example, if she is Chinese, you may as well depict her eating Chinese food. It doesn’t have to be Western food that she is eating.” As we dive into the sandwiches made with savoury herbed waffles, chicken, and guacamole, Lok begins talk about food in Southern Chinese culture.

“My family and I came from Hong Kong, so growing up I ate Hong Kong style food, which is more like Canton or Southern Chinese cuisine with some British or western influence,” Lok describes. Cha Chaan Teng, which literally translates to “tea restaurant”, is a core to Hong Kong local food culture and is found everywhere in Hong Kong. It originates from the thirties when Hong Kong was under British control. You’d find hybrids of Canto-western dishes at a cheap price. For example, you’d find French toasts and Hong Kong style milk tea as well as Canto food like wonton soup and fried rice. Lok relates, “In Toronto even when we go out on Saturday or Sunday we always go to Cha Chaan Teng. It’s a must. I do like them but I also do like to try different food. For instance, Japanese food or Korean food, which I like a lot.” CONTINUED

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LEFT: DÉCOR Inspired by train stations, a cool concept that has attracted young customers. SAVOURY WAFFLES We order herbed waffle sandwiches with spicy potato curls.

BELOW: TRAIN CROSSING The train crossing sign was a centrepiece in the hallway.

KYOTO LOVE Matcha latte with a touch of white chocolate. It arrives in a cute ceramics cup.

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Food is supposed to m If you don’t feel hap you should ju

BOOK SHELF Miniature Japanese paintings garnished the book shelf in the restaurant.

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make you feel happy. ppy eating food then ust not eat it.

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She also notes that even though she’s Chinese, she’s not used to the flavours of all Chinese cuisines. “Last year in December I went to a restaurant called PanPan Noodle Bar. It makes Wuhan noodles. Wuhan is a big city located in a province in Central China. Not that I disliked it but I didn’t like it either. I think I was pretty neutral about it. I’d say I’m more used to Canton flavour, more so Southern Chinese, even though Wuhan is still Chinese,” she says. A traditional Chinese medical belief maintains that a balance of yin and yang, meaning hot and cold, must be incorporated in the food we consume. All food is categorized into “hot or warm” and “cold or cool”. Eating an excess of each side is not good to one’s health. Lok says on behalf of this, “Durian you can’t have too much. It’s too ‘hot’. One time during our vacation in Thailand, my brother ate more than three pieces of durian and he got a nose bleed. Maybe the hot and cold concept is true.” I ask her what sitting down and eating with her family means to her. “I enjoy the moments eating with my family. We laugh

and tease at the same time while we watch TV dramas,” she describes. We then talk about how gender affects one’s eating habits, she maintains, “I thought girls like desserts and sweet stuff more. However I have come to know more guys who also like desserts a lot. My boyfriend Kenneth loves ice cream. Every time he goes to an all-you-can-eat restaurant he’d get four to five scoops of ice cream. Also, some popular foodie accounts were actually created and owned by guys. Torontofood has 20K followers and it was created and run by three guys.” She furthers, “I think society imposes this expectation that girls have to act more refined and reserved. Some girls like to act way more ladylike in front of their first-time dates. I think they are definitely not doing it for themselves but to impress other people.” Lok finds that being a girl is hard sometimes. “At the gym, girls who have really toned bodies and muscles may be judged by guys for looking less like a girl. I mean, it’s their own bodies, they do whatever they want with them. CONTINUED

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I enjoy the moments eating with my family. We laugh and tease at the same time while we watch TV dramas.

LEFT: MINIMALIST FURNITURE Dining tables and chairs made of wooden materials. ABOVE: RAISED PLATFORM The decorative centrepiece is another highlight for Instagrammers.

IN THE ILLUSTRATION Lok’s family loves Hong Kong-style Western cuisine, such as French toasts and Hong Kong style milk tea.

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LOK WITH A BELL Part of self-love is learning to like what you have, something Lok came to embrace recently.

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I think health is not all about body shapes, it’s also about taking care of my emotions I think girls have to beware of how they perceive themselves and be less affected by judgements like that. I learned from experience that be who you are and like what you have,” Lok asserts. When I ask what healthy eating is to her, she says, “My way of thinking about being healthy was a little bit different from my current take of being healthy, which was more grounded in the outer appearance of my body. I meticulously tracked every single food that I ate on MyFitnessPal. I learned that if I constantly forced and pushed myself to hit targets like that, I felt exhausted and sad for myself. I think health is not all about body shapes, it’s also about taking care of my emotions. I no longer think it’s worth it anymore.” She elaborates, “ I now take on a semi-structured and semi-intuitive way of eating. I’d say it’s a more holistic approach that tries to juggle between taking care of my physical health or appearance and listening to my body at the same time.” Lok’s love for food blogging also evolves from her battle with an eating disorder during the first few years of university. “I was obsessed with food at that time, I would go on my secret Instagram account, keep looking at food at night and make myself hungry. I was starving myself during the day. When I went out to eat I just couldn’t stop eating. I noticed my behaviour and I

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wanna change it. That’s when I started to take pictures of the food that I ate with that account to make a note of what I ate and how I felt about it,” she says. “I deleted the account eventually because its existence served as a reminder of my eating disorder. I really wanna build a better relationship with food so I quitted. In my third and fourth year I had my life back. I started to go out more with friends to eat and I took a lot of food photos again. That time I had five hundred photos of food in my phone. I was like what am I gonna do with them? So I decided to post them on Instagram. I became a foodie and started my current account in the December of 2016 when I was really bored and had nothing to do,” Lok giggles. She brings up the role of food in socializing. “Food brings people together. I also met friends because of food, so I think being a foodie and a food blogger is a really cool concept. I mean, everyone has to eat, so everyone could relate. It’s a common interest,” Lok recalls. Many Millennials are attracted to food places with cool décor like Platform, and Lok is definitely one of them. They are widely embraced by foodies and food bloggers. She says, “We choose cute cafés because they look better on the picture. I personally like seeing white and pink colour schemes. They are so cute.”HOW SHE EATS


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CONCLUSION: INTERVIEW SUMMARY

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t is generally understood that the message(s) the creator seeks to deliver through an image is communicated through a bundle of elements as a whole and not just one single element on its own. These include the camera angles, the settings and the props used, the models’ expressions and behaviours and the ways they are dressed. The following summarizes the responses from the ten participants to the three questions asked in the interviews. They form a preliminary proposal or brainstorm section of how fashion images portraying food and female Millennial models can be constructed to empower female Millennials and authentically represent a greater diversity of them and the role of food in their lives. There can be exceptions to the rule, as the ways that an image is interpreted varies across different audiences, cultural and contextual environments, and the media themselves. One thing to take note is that the definition of the Millennial cohort is debatable. My research is targeted towards females age eighteen to twenty-five. What ways of portraying food and female models, in conjunction to each other, grant female Millennials agency over their bodies and promote body positivity? This question stems from the fact that many fashion images sexually objectify female models. To recall, sexual objectification is the act of reducing the models to mere objects of sexual desire and diminishing other qualities that are equally important to women’s identity. The four questions below served as guidelines when participants evaluated the degree to which an image sexually objectifies the models. These guidelines were established by advertising executive Madonna Badger at Badger & Winters. Does the woman have a choice or a voice in this situation? Is she reduced to just a sexually provocative body part? Is the image manipulated to the extent that the look is not humanly achievable? Would you be comfortable to see your sister, best friend or yourself in this image?

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CONCLUSION

Camera angle plays an important role in delivering a sense of power, or the lack of, from the female model. Some participants suggested that images shot from a high angle often put the models in a passive position, signifying submissiveness that is often a sexual one. Some participants also indicated their dislike for point-of-view angles shot in a voyeuristic manner, especially when the models were engaged in an activity imbued with sexual connotations, such as the licking of a popsicle, or were wearing garments that revealed or emphasized intimate parts of the body such as the crotch. In many of these images, the food served as a metaphor for sexual arousal or sexual organs. Dribbling white ice cream cone and fruits collapsing on a nude model lying on the ground are examples to name a few. Some participants also expressed dislikes for poses, behaviours, or expressions that are indicative of sexual acts or sexual arousals, or serve to seduce audience. The portrayal of overly thin models eating an excessive amount of food, especially fattening food, was seen by participants as mocking females with bigger body sizes and implying that audience deserve treats like desserts and junk food only if they have thin figures. It was noted that these images could induce body shame in female audiences and could possibly be triggering for those who already have a negative perception of their bodies. The inaccurate portrayal and the mocking of eating disorders was also seen as degrading women and triggering for those who have a negative body image. Some images portray models stuffing themselves with food and one of them describes a binge eating woman as a “bxxch�. Some models were also sad and showed a loss of control as they were piled up and engulfed with large amounts of food. Participants also suggested that these images show less junk food and unhealthy food and in realistic, well-portioned quantities in order to promote positive conceptions of health and diet and be less triggering for audiences struggling with body image issues. Less Photoshop and airbrushing was recommended in order to communicate realistic notions of beauty. Participants expressed that they felt a sense of power given to the models when they see the models happy eating the food in whichever ways they are comfortable with. Models who looked straight into the camera also conveyed a sense of strength and confidence, as participants suggested. Ultimately, to nourish positive relationships with food, food should be portrayed as a source of empowerment in women’s lives. It should be celebrated and not portrayed under a negative light. Female identity is more than its sexual attractiveness. One participant noted that female models should be portrayed in ways that treat them as whole human beings with inherent value, dignity, and a dynamic of personalities. There is definitely an array of things that can be said about female Millennials other than their sexual appeal in fashion images. For example, her talents, her perseverance and what family means to her.

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CONCLUSION

Be cautious of cultural appropriation, during which the adoption of ethnic cultural elements regarding food and its cultural significance should be respected with the goal of cultural exchange and appreciation. How can these images be inclusive of a diversity of female Millennials, specifically their ethnic cultures, the types of diets they consume, and their body sizes? Many fashion images portraying food and females predominantly represent western food and Caucasian models. There is room for these images to incorporate a greater diversity of ethnic cultures, their diets as well as body sizes. This will spark new interests, engage more audience bases, and encourage cultural exchanges and dissolve boundaries. Having more body sizes and ethnic cultures represented in fashion helps to reinvigorate the fashion media landscape, which used to be ultra-exclusive. The first suggestion that many participants brought up is undeniably the representation of models from different ethnic cultures. Some suggested that audience would be able to relate to the brand more if a model similar to them is used in the image. The image would be even more interesting if the model, regardless of ethnicity, enjoys non-western food as this helps to induce curiosity and raise discussions amongst audience, and increase the understanding of each others’ ethnic cultures in the process. Secondly, models who do not have idealized thin figures should be incorporated into these images. In both cases, the diversity of models should be incorporated in a manner that is not tokenistic but authentic. Models of various ethnicities and body shapes can be asked to act candidly so that their moments of true selves can be captured. The focus should not be drawn to the fact that they are different. Rather, the focus should be drawn to their individual identities, what is important to them and the role of food in their cultural contexts. They do not have to always stand side by side as in many diversity photoshoots. One participant noted that image makers should be cautious of cultural appropriation, during which the adoption of ethnic cultural elements regarding food and its cultural significance should be respected with the goal of cultural exchange and appreciation. It should not be offensive, self-proclaiming and turned into a new means of expressing ethnic dominance. Another participant mentioned that some dishes from other ethnic cultures may not be as photogenic as the typical western food portrayed in these images as these food are often highly processed to increase its appeal without diminishing the authenticity of the food itself. CONTINUED

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A simple solution to that would be to select particular food dishes that appears more aesthetically pleasing on camera or have the food styled in a manner that appeals to the target consumer without compromising authenticity. Since the ten participants come from various ethnic backgrounds, there are so many ways that their cultural identity in relation to food can be expressed in fashion images. As a quick example, Hinako mentioned that Japanese put their palms together before meals as a way of expressing their thankfulness for their food. Depending on the target audience of the brand or publication, image makers can consider incorporating elements like these into the details of an image to increase their depth of meanings and expose audience to different cultural realms in a manner that fits its branding practices. Another example would be bubble tea, a milk tea beverage originating from Taiwan that has been globalized and embraced by many western audiences and one of my Taiwanese participants, Gini. The show of bubble teas would surely be fascinating to audiences as they are rarely seen in fashion media. Victoria, a Caucasian who grew up in a cultural melting pot, is constantly exposed to Asian cultures and regularly incorporates their diets into her own. This is an anecdote that many Canadians can relate to as they are constantly surrounded by people from different cultures. On account of that, another idea for portraying a diversity of is to show a group of friends coming from different cultural backgrounds happily sharing a particular cultural food. This expresses the notion that food should not be limited to specific people but can be shared across cultural boundaries.

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How can they communicate the physiological, psychological and social functions of food in their lives? Many fashion images portraying food and females oversimplify the complex relationships females have with food. Some of the participants felt that the models looked too packaged, polished and embellished with too much makeup. Many participants favoured over images that conveyed a sense of carelessness and portrayed everyday scenarios, such as the sharing of food with friends on a street and the slurping of noodles. The physiological functions of food encompass gender, nutrition and physical health. According to most participants, physical health involves a balanced diet that incorporates all food groups and not depriving the body’s needs to achieve outer body thinness. Many participants have wrestled with negative perceptions of their bodies some point in their lives and were lenient on the idea that fashion images should promote positive perception of health and diet by showing well-balanced diets and the model’s enjoyment of food instead of ones that could be triggering for audience who struggle with negative body image and eating disorders. Physically speaking, males and females have different biological make ups which lend them to the consumption of varying amounts of certain nutrients. However, from a sociological perspective, many participants agreed that the gendering of food influences the ways that a female chooses her food. Many acknowledged that females should be aware of perpetuating oppressive gendered food schemes that restrict females’ enjoyment of food. Many fashion images reinforce gender stereotypes and portray excessive amounts of sweets, desserts and gourmet food, which are often considered as girly food. Participants wish to see the breaking down of gender stereotypes in relation to food in fashion images. For example, the perception that all females should be eating less than males and that they should be meticulously keeping track of their body shapes. CONTINUED

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CONCLUSION

The unit of measure for choosing what types of food to eat should be based on the individuals’ physical needs and personal preferences instead. This brings back to the fact that many participants wished to see authenticity and being true to oneself being portrayed. Friendships and family relationships are under the bracket of the sociological functions of food. Participants viewed food as a means of bringing people together and encourage bonding. Eating is a time for everyone to catch up and understand each others’ lives, especially given that most Millennials are busy juggling with all sorts of tasks. This was reflected in participants’ attraction to images that showed friends sharing food. Fashion images can incorporate the celebratory aspects of food by showing, for example, a group of friends or family members eating joyously at locations that Millennials frequent. Millennials enjoy connection and diversity. The psychological functions of food consist of factors such as comfort and emotions. Many participants admittedly described that foods that are good looking and are accompanied by pleasing colours and décor in the food environment or the containers that hold the food made them feel happy eating the food. Insta-friendly restaurants with well-designed colour schemes act as a source of amusement to Millennials in addition to the tastiness of the food. These aspects can be added into the contexts of fashion images targeted towards Millennials, for instance, by having the setting in an Insta-friendly café. Millennials are technologically-driven and are active users of mobile food apps such as BlogTO. They enjoy experimentation with food and many are adventurous eaters. Most of the participants have been exposed to a great variety of cultural food and enjoy eating them. Their embrace of food diversity and the technological influence on diets can be conveyed in fashion images. Furhtermore, one participant noted that she treats herself to specific food items that she likes when she was having night school. This is another means that food provides emotional satisfaction. Since many Millennials are students, this is another aspect that can be illustrated in the narrative of fashion images. A number of Millennials are socially conscious and aware of the impact of their food choices on the environment. Some participants are on vegetarian diets and lean towards organic food. Fashion images can highlight sustainable food diets and practices in their narrative. To counter the lack of time for food preparation, many Millennials choose to cook food in bulk, which can be reflected in fashion images to more authentically represent their lifestyles. HOW SHE EATS

Many fashion images portraying food and females oversimplify the complex relationships females have with food.

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T H A N K Y O U A N D I H O P E T H AT YOU ENJOYED THE BOOK.

Special thanks to the ten wonderful women: Victoria, Susanna, Enni, Jewelle, Hinako, Gini, Eva, Kimberly, Kaela, and Lok. Your contribution is invaluable to my research.


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R E - E N V I S I O N I N G T H E P O R T R AYA L

OF FOOD AND FEMALE MILLENNIALS I N E D I T O R I A L FA S H I O N I M A G E S

An exploration of the ways in which editorial fashion images can

more authentically represent a diversity of female Millennials and their relationships with food in an empowering light.

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That's How She Eats  

Re-envisioning the portrayal of food and female Millennials in editorial fashion images.

That's How She Eats  

Re-envisioning the portrayal of food and female Millennials in editorial fashion images.

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