A picture paints 1000 words….
Hello…. Welcome to week four of my digital diary! This week I am going to focus my attention on how the modern yogis Tara Stiles constructs her identity through pictures of food.
This data will be extracted from their mass range of her interlinked social media platforms. Firstly I will start to evaluate her food photos and I will start to look at the language she uses and see if any trends start to emerge in this data. As the weeks go on… I should have a more nuanced evaluation of people in the online Yoga community and their food posts through the use of social media. A picture paints 1000 words….
(Image from Tara Stiles Eats Tumblr Page)
The image above is the first photo I am going to interpret in relation to how Tara Stiles constructs her online identity. This recipe was extracted from her Tumblr page ‘Taraeats’ however, it is also accessible on her Twitter,Facebook and Pinterest accounts with an aim to increase her online reach. This is my favorite of her photo posts as it is bright and grabbed my attention, as it would with people in the online yoga community.
To draw quick conclusions of the photo alone in relation to how the photo represents Tara’s digital self straight away the vivid Green colour of the photo represents health and nature. The bubbles in the smoothie may represent that it is not a processed, pre bought product and it was freshly made, demonstrating that it is freshly made by Tara herself. The photo is very straight to the point and not overly flamboyant on a rustic table which relates to the simplistic lifestyle of yogis. The minimalism and rustic nature of this photo also ties in with the minimalist Yogic lifestyle. As seen as above, the recipe is called ‘A Green Dream.’ Again, green represents health and nature which is fitting as the recipe only contains natural, healthy ingredients. The word Dream may portray that her creation is pleasant and positive like in a ‘dreamy’ or ‘dream-like’ state. Her language is very simple and non threatening. The tags in the post reflect words such as Health and Vegan which are strongly linked to the eating habits of yogis.
The second photo I am evaluating this week is a recipe called Chi Chong Fun. The word ‘fun’ demonstrates that Tara is constructing a fun nature to her identity. Also she has communicated that she had tried this in the markets in KL which constructs that she may be a cultural person and she likes to travel and experience new cultures and foods. This may also represent that she is daring and open-minded to trying new foods and experiences.
From drawing quick conclusions of the photo, I can see that it is very neatly presented on the plate, demonstrating she may be an organised and disciplined person who is a perfectionist. This ties in with yogis as they discipline themselves whilst in yoga practice, Tara has incorporated that she is disciplined throughout her entire lifestyle and not just on the yoga mat. There is no meat in the dish, representing Veganism. I can see that the noodle dish is non greasy, once again representing her health consciousness. Similar to her other food posts, the background displays her rustic table and her rustic, Moroccan style plate. A trend I am seeing here is minimalism and simplicity, the Moroccan plate may also represent her cultural tastes.
The first aspect of this image I noticed was the tomato purposely shaped into a heart. This may represent that Tara has a big heart, a loving nature and values relationships in her life or portrays self-love. The loving nature constructed correlates with the personality traits and values of Yogis and reflects non violence in Tara’s identity. The word ‘healthy’ links to the healthy lifestyle which Yogis live and ‘Delight’ reflects a positivity. which links to the positive outlook yogis have.
This also links to Ahimsa which is a value derived from Sanskrit roots and closely relates to Yogic Philosophy. I spoken to Lari this week about my project and how yoga relates to veganism and she made me aware of this value which traditional yogis follow, therefore I decided to look at this further. Ahimsa practices involve having respect for all living things and avoiding violence towards others, including animals, which demonstrates reasoning behind why a lot of Yogis follow Veganism. From recent research on the Yoga community and Veganism I have found that Ahimsa relates to love, which is subtlety incorporated through this image. From my research this week, I found how Sri Swami Sivananda, a Spiritual Hindu teacher who incorporated Yoga into his spiritual lifestyle demonstrates how Ahimsa relates to love.
“Practice of Ahimsa develops love. Ahimsa is another name for truth or love. Ahimsa is universal love. It is pure love.”
From drawing some final, quick conclusions from the above image, the green leaves and seeds represent a healthy, organic, raw and disciplined identity.
The third image I am going to evaluate is extracted from Tara Stiles Eats Tumblr page and the caption straight away mentioned that she is cooking for her good friends. From drawing quick conclusions of the photo, I can see that the image does not show the pre- eaten product of her creation but shows the leftover crumbs. This portrays the after experience that she has been eating with friends and tells a story. The caption ‘cooking for good friends’ shows that Tara is social and enjoys cooking for her friends, again linking that she values the relationships in her life by showing her act of kindness by cooking for her loved ones.
I can see that the photo is highly styled, and the Moroccan plate and table in the background may portray the rustic roots of being a yogi. However, I believe that this could also go against the simplistic, sustainable lifestyle of traditional yogis as everything in the background looks expensive and designer. In relation to Lari’s photo last week, her photo was not highly styled, was very simplistic and just shown a meal in a plain white bowl. Although Tara demonstrates the rustic, simplistic nature of her sustainable eating habits by using raw ingredients, the expensive background images may project ego and attachment as an extension of her digital self through the apparent materialistic possessions in her image. What I found interesting is that this is contradictory to the true traditional yogic lifestyle.
I have found this week, that by taking the time to interpret images, that there are deep hidden messages incorporated into photos, which I would usually bypass. This relates to my current reading this week, from a Journal article by Marita Sturken & Lisa Carthwright called Practices of looking: An introduction to visual culture (2009).
“Images, as cultural productions, are steeped in the values, ideologies, and taken for granted beliefs of the culture which produce them and which consumes them.”
– Sturken & Cartwright (2009)
Thanks you for following me on my journey this week, please join next week to see how Kathryn Budig uses food images to contruct her idenity.