My love affair with the making of, the photographing of, and the painting of Bento box lunches continues. This is the new “Kiki’s Delivery Service” Bento box that we gave Poppy (my daughter) for her birthday, which has opened up all new possibilities for arranging the Bento since it came with extra dividers and the bottom tier is a different size. The food in this Bento was flower shaped sandwiches (with Nori seaweed faces), pretzel mix, two (somewhat misshapen) egg shapes (with seasoning salt), and strawberry salad (with vinaigrette dressing). And I spent a little more time on this painting rather than planning on doing any extra comic-style outlining at the end (which reminds me that I haven’t gone back to that first Bento painting…).
Though speaking of Bento box lunches, I was a bit down this week. It seems that lately every third day there is some blog post circulating on Facebook about “Bento moms” and how terrible they are. I was not even aware that it was such a fad at the moment, but my news feed is sprinkled with posts and “articles I might enjoy” (thanks a lot Facebook for the customized newsfeed) all about these “Bento moms”. The end result is that I felt bad about making Bento lunches for my daughter, and ashamed about sharing them on Facebook. What really got me was that I love making them and they really inspire me–I see them as art and as bringing art into my everyday life. I am not even doing any crazy “art Bento” with scenes painted out, I am just arranging things nicely and using cookie cutters. I now feel like I need to defend what I am doing. I now wonder if all the moms of my daughter’s friends hate me. It doesn’t seem fair. At the start of the school year Poppy begged us for lunch money so she could eat at the “Bear Bistro” at her school; but as a stay-at-home mom with more time than money, I told her that I couldn’t do that, but I could make her lunches pretty.
Ironically enough it was another link on Facebook that made me feel better about what I’m doing. It was from a blog column called “Ask Andrew W.K.” and the post was Pizza is Healthy. In it he talks about the things that give us joy and how important they are. Just insert “Bento” in place of “pizza” and this was written for me. He says:
“Some people get a twisted sort of joy in systematically abusing and degrading the joys of other people. It’s not so much that they want to convince you pizza is bad; they want to convince you that you’re bad for loving it, and that they’re truly healthier, smarter, and all around better people for eating differently or having a different lifestyle. It’s not enough to just do what they enjoy, they have to take others down in the process.”
This attitude seems to be rampant right now about anything and everything, not just Bento moms. As soon as there is an idea or something that is popular, just wait a couple of days and there will be posts going viral that tear it apart. It seems it is far too easy to just “click and share”. It all makes me think of that story a while back about the girl who developed anti-bullying software. Based on the idea that teenagers are more impulsive than adults, it would simply prompt users as to whether they were sure they wanted to post something. In the study 93% of them would change their minds after given a chance to review a message or post. I don’t know though, on Facebook at least it seems like we are all just out-of-control teenagers with no reservations and barely any empathy.
The pizza column goes on to say, “It’s healthier to be truly happy than it is to painfully censor yourself and your passions.” So I have decided that, just like pizza, Bento lunches give me joy and I’m just going to keep doing them.