The Role Food Played My Childhood Insecurity

Just Like The Delicious Filling Of Sushi, Understanding Others Allows Us To Relish In Our Cuisine's Diversity

In retrospect, it was funny considering everything in there was cooked, but to an insecure third grader with no friends or self-esteem, it meant the world.


When I was younger, I never realized how much the scrutiny and judgment of The Lunch Table influenced my insecurity over food. Back then, the kids who brought Little Debbie brownies and peanut butter sandwiches in pretty pink lunch boxes reigned supreme while I started as one of the lowly peasants who bought rubbery hotdogs in the lunch line. Every day, the lunchbox kids whispered about my grubby, oily, disgusting pizza as I did the walk of shame down table aisles. Believing I was what I ate, I looked down at the soggy, spongy, vaguely triangular lump topped with bleached white cheese and mysteriously fluorescent orange pepperoni. I couldn't help but see the resemblance. It was pitiful and revolting like me.

Eventually, I became too self-conscious to endure the daily ridicule of buying lunch. I resorted to bringing leftovers from home though I still faced the same problems from before. The minute I opened my lunchbox in public, it was subject to the prying eyes of my classmates. The container of fen si filled with delicate rice noodles and tender bean sprouts that left a fragrant aroma of sesame oil in my mouth drove people miles away from my lonely spot at the lunch table.

However, not all hope was lost. Sushi was my saving grace that possessed the exotic allure needed to turn me into an overnight sensation. The colorful and mysterious ingredients all wrapped in a neat little package must have intrigued people without being too foreign to gross them out. I finally became an object of interest. People stared when I opened my lunchbox. People asked questions about my food. People even offered to trade their snacks that I yearned for so badly just to taste my sushi. I finally felt like I had friends; like I had been accepted.

Then, on a fateful day, my 15 minutes of fame came to a head when one of the popular girls in our grade asked if she could have a piece. I was stunned beyond belief. Out of all the plebeians with their GoGurt and Kraft Mac and Cheese, she had chosen me! This was my moment to shine, to prove I was one of them. Deeply honored, I gave her my best piece and waited expectantly. The entire room held its breath for her verdict while her face wrinkled into a grimace of repulsion. Slowly, she spit out my limp, slimy sushi and told me, "It tastes raw." My heart plummeted to the dirty cafeteria floor.

I was crestfallen. With just three words, she had crushed any sense of self-confidence I had built up from the past month. I forced a chuckle and masked my hurt with indifference. The words "It tastes raw" echoed in my head that day bouncing back into my consciousness just when I had forgotten it. It constantly nagged at my mind reminding me that I didn't belong. I wonder if that girl noticed me stowing the sushi away into the shameful depths of my lunchbox.

I stopped bringing sushi to school for a while, not out of disgust but something vaguely akin to fear. I pestered my mom to buy peanut butter and jelly, turkey and mayonnaise, Lunchables and Capri Suns. I perfected my technique of hiding food under the table and tried to make my lunch taste more like food. All the while, neglected, stale leftovers kept accumulating in the refrigerator with no one to eat or acknowledge them.

However, when I met an Indian girl who had moved to our school from Michigan, there was something in me that changed. I finally had someone who was just as insecure and embarrassed about her food as I was — someone who could relate to my experiences. As we gradually became friends, she hid her Indian roti beside my Chinese chao mian. It was the first time I didn't feel alone as we shared the trivial yet impactful shaming subtly placed on our food.

I finally found community and pride in being an outsider away from the choking reigns of lunchtime society. I finally learned to accept myself and understand the misunderstanding of others. In the solidarity of our misfortunes, we slowly helped rebuild each other until our food resurfaced from under the table. Indian and Chinese sat there uncertainly at first but more surely as time went on. They were two islands in a sea of American.

One year later, I set a small box of sushi on the lunch table again. This time, my friend and I split it, relishing the shrimp, cucumber, and egg wrapped in a blanket of seaweed while everyone else stared. My sushi had never looked better. It stood tall, upright, beautiful, and proud in the face of PB&J; sandwiches as it boasted its wonderfully fluffy rice and explosion of colors in the center. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the girl who had humiliated me.

I grinned and offered her another piece of sushi.

Popular Right Now

My Freckles Are Not A Beauty Trend For You To Appropriate And Immitate

Those with faces full of freckles can't wipe them off like you can after a photo shoot.


While it is fun to use makeup to express yourself, one can argue unless you are in costume, it should be used to enhance your features, not create new ones. The trend of artificial freckles puts a nasty taste in my mouth reminiscent to the feeling I get when I see a Caucasian woman apply such dark foundation to her face that she appears to be donning blackface.

To someone who has a face full of freckles, it is offensive to see you paint on freckles as if they were not permanent features of other people's skin that they cannot remove with a makeup wipe. I remember asking my cousin at 5 years old if I could surgically remove my freckles and crying when she broke to me that I'd be stuck with what she called giraffe spots my whole life.

I'm not alone in feeling self-conscious about my freckles. The face is the fulcrum of the identity, and it can feel like my facial identity is like a haphazard splash of orange/brown debris. Another against the fake freckles movement retorts: "you'll soon regret them when people begin to describe you as a polka-dot-skinned troll or a cinnamon-toast-faced goblin. Also, when your eyebags start to sag in middle-age, that 'cute' skin art will probably deteriorate into something more closely resembling oblong blackheads. Sincerely, A Freckled Person"

One woman recalls her struggle with accepting the patterns of her skin from a very young age:

“When I was a young girl, I remember staring at myself in my bathroom mirror and imagining my face without the scattered brown dots that littered my face and body. I dreamed of having the small imperfections removed from my face and obtaining the smooth porcelain skin that I envied. I looked at my bare-faced friends in awe because they had what I wanted and would never know. For some odd reason, I had made myself believe that my freckles made me ugly."

I've come to appreciate the beauty of these sun kisses, and many nowadays have too. However, freckles haven't always been considered cute. There is a history of contempt toward red reader freckled people, just ask Anne Shirley! The dramatic young heroine laments: "Yes, it's red," she said resignedly. "Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who had red hair. I don't mind the other things so much — the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, "Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing." But all the time I know it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow." (Montgomery).

Historically, freckles on ones face have been seen as dirty or imperfect. It's easy to forget that Irish features such as red hair and freckles have been subject to hateful discrimination for centuries. In some places, the word ginger is even used as a slur.

I am not a red-headed stepchild for you to beat — or for you to appropriate.

My facial texture is not a toy for you to play with.

It is rude and inconsiderate to pock your face for a selfie while those with randomly splashed spots get someone once a week trying to rub off the "dirt speck" on their face.

Greg Stevens has a theory to why there is anti-red prejudice

“Skin tone is another one of those well-studied features that has been shown to consistently have an impact on people's assessment of physical beauty: Those with clear, evenly-colored skin are widely regarded as being more attractive than people with patchy, blotchy, or freckled skin.
Nowhere is this more obvious than when looking at professional photos of redheaded models and celebrities. Even those "hot redheads" that flaunt the redness of their hair usually are made-up on magazine covers to have almost unnaturally even skin tones. Moreover, there is a reasonable theory to explain why the bias against freckles might be more than just a cultural prejudice. Not to be too blunt about it, but freckles are cancer factories."

By that, the author means freckles can be early indicators of sun damage or skin cancer. This illusion that freckles indicate deficiency may also play in negative connotations toward a person with freckles

While I acknowledge the intention of people with clear skin who paint freckles on their face isn't to offend — rather it is to appreciate freckles as a beauty statement — the effect is still offensive. If you are thinking about trying this freckle fad, you should put down your fine tipped brush and consider what it would be like if you couldn't wipe away the spots.


Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Remaining NBA Playoffs Matchup Predictions

NBA playoff predictions


With the NBA Season coming to a close after 82 games and multiple playoff games, I wanted to predict the remaining NBA series's and who would win. Let's start!

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: Sixers in 6 vs Raptors


This one's pretty simple, The Sixers have more firepower, they have better chemistry, and they have a better coach. The Raptors are still adjusting to the Kawhi era and might take them a couple years for their chemistry to improve. The Sixers should win this series in six, but only because Kawhi is good enough to win two games by himself.

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: Bucks in 5 vs Celtic


The Greak Freek is so good he can single-handedly beat this Celtics roster with Kyrie and Tatum. The Celtics have been suffering since late in the season and Giannis is here to expose that. Mike Budenholzer has made the Bucks into a complete team and they should easily dismantle last year's Eastern Conference Finals Losers.

Western Conference Semi-Finals: Blazers in 7 vs Nuggets


It's always Dame Time in Portland. Dame is leading his team fast and furious in the playoffs. He is averaging over 30 points a game and is carrying the Blazers. Him and CJ are a formidable duo. While Denver has great players, I believe in a 7 game series the Blazers will outplay them.

Western Conference Semi-Finals: Warriors in 6


The Warriors are the greatest team in the NBA this season. I'm not tired of how good they are because of Steph Curry. Often it seems like they don't try when they're playing, but I am sure that when it counts they will be able to oust the Rockets.

Eastern Conference Finals: Bucks vs Sixers: Sixers in 7


The Bucks vs the Sixers; two young teams battling it out to be the East's best. Who will win? Not going to lie if this happens it will be the best series in the playoffs. This series will definitely go to 7 games and the matter of fact is the winner of this may be lucky to keep on moving. Based on talent I took the Sixers, but with Giannis anything can happen so watch out!

Western Conference Finals: Warriors vs Trail Blazers: Warriors in 5


To make it simple, the Warriors talent makes the Blazers look like a high school JV team. Dame might be like the outlier and help the Blazers win one game, but otherwise the Warriors will make it look easy and go past this series easily.

NBA Finals: Warriors vs Sixers: Warriors in 4


The Warriors will finally find their momentum by the time the Finals rolls around and should easily sweep the Sixers. The Sixers lack experience in the Finals and even the playoffs that much to be honest and it will show. The Warriors will be too much for them and will dismantle the Sixers in 4 games.

Related Content

Facebook Comments