The disturbing symphony of voices fills your ears, making you flinch. As you look around, the source of the obnoxious sound becomes clear: the other students at your table in the school cafeteria. However, even the annoying voices and your uncomfortable seat cannot ruin this moment.
In front of you is food you’ve been craving. Your mouth starts to water just looking at it. The food stares at you, pleading you to take a bite. You cannot take the suspense so you start to DIG RIGHT IN. You open your mouth dentist-wide. As you start to take the first bite of your scrumptious food, someone comments, “Ewww why are you eating that? That’s gross.”
Immediately your craving is gone. Your favorite food turns into cardboard.
Welcome to Food Court, where other people judge you based on what you eat. Some students, like John D. O’Bryant senior Wanjing Li, have been to Food Court. “One night, my mom made me tù ròu hé báifàn, or rabbit meat and rice,” Li said. “So the next day I brought it to school. This girl saw it and asked me what it was. She was like, ’Eww, rabbit? Gross.’ It kind of hurt when she said it was gross, since in China it is normal.”
“A lot of people judge me when I put ketchup in my rice or on my chicken,” said Mangeney Omar, a senior at John D. O’Bryant. “There is one particular person that always talks to me about how gross and weird it is. I feel like she only associates me with my food choice.”
“When I go to McDonald’s, I buy a burger then ask the cashier for all their chicken nugget sauces and put all of it on the McDouble,” said John D. O’Bryant senior Sonia Baez. Baez went on to talk about how people usually judge her for this. However, she does not mind. “I am the one eating it, so why should I care?” Baez said.
Baez makes an important point. You are eating it, not the person judging you. To those who are being judged based on food preference, know that you are NOT what you eat. What you enjoy consuming has nothing to do with who you are as a person. Hence, that pizza with ranch dressing you had for lunch yesterday does not represent YOU, just your taste in food. So next time someone says that what you’re eating is “gross,” just tell them,“Don’t knock it till you try it.”
If you see someone eat something that you think is weird, answer these questions before you comment: Have you tried it before? Do you think the person will be offended by what you are about to say? Are YOU eating it? If you answered “no” or “I’m not sure” to any of those questions then you may not want to say it. Refer to the following from writer Rachel Wolchin: “Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you may stick with someone else for a lifetime.”