THE BLOG
11/20/2014 01:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Instagram Helped Me Love Food Again

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I have control issues. I'm the eldest of four and fiercely independent. High-achieving and competitive, I stole the handwriting style of the girl who sat next to me in third grade because it looked nicer. I've never done well with authority figures. When I was little I was quite the charmer, and I even managed to walk into the principal's office to be disciplined (sobbing alligator tears, of course) and walk out with candy and no punishment. As I grew up, I learned how to do what I liked without anyone realizing that I had my own set of rules.

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Some of these rules surrounded food. In the second grade I went through a phase where I painstakingly split my meal into perfect bites that had to be chewed and swallowed in 30 seconds. I must have looked incredibly odd staring at the kitchen wall's analog clock as I perfected my chewing pace.

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My controlling attitude and competitive nature collided during my teenage years. I can't pinpoint when it all began, but like too many girls I was teased for my appearance from a young age. I didn't understand that the verbal harassment was bullying so I took it as a challenge. Suddenly my life was a series of numbers: calories burned, calories consumed, miles ran, hours at the gym,and nights I went to bed hungry. There was endless arithmetic and the unsettling knowledge that each meal would "require" an equal reactionary step. That kind of number crunching was exhausting.

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It took five years, but I eventually rescued myself from the fun house mirrors I saw everywhere. I became more concerned with the angle of my arabesques than how I looked in a ballet leotard. Bathroom mirrors were used for fixing smeared eyeliner instead of performing a full body assessment. However, I still struggled to erase the numbers I associated with food. My consumption was once again healthy, yet my attitude kept eating clinical and not enjoyable.

Enter Instagram.
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I have been classified as "basic" for many reasons. I love Diet Coke, wearing leggings as pants, and have listened to Taylor Swift's 1989 more than any album on my pink iPhone. Not to mention I'm currently shopping for a new pair of Uggs. I have zero shame in my basic game, although I do dislike how it's used as a way for women to put each other down. One of the most public displays of my basic nature is an endearment for the ever popular #foodstagram.

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It started off as an extension of my personality. I sassily overused hashtags and showed off sushi dinners from trendy restaurants. But it gradually became more than that. In general, I enjoy Instagram because (as a former photography and art history student) I'm all about aesthetics. I love how lighting, composition and design can interact to create beautiful products. Instagram made food about more than just the chore of eating, and putting X calories into my body. Instead, I began to focus on the plating of my food, and exploring new combinations to create exciting color palettes.

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My family says that I've started playing with my food. I couldn't agree more. Instagram has given me a platform to find the fun in food again. So go ahead and say I'm basic. Say that I've given in to mainstream media, and lost my originality. I think I've gained something that's more than worth it.

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If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.