Coming to a new place with new people it is all about fitting in and being cool. This is a trend that became evident in my Critical Thinking and Writing class as we focused our energy on three subtopics, food, self, and culture. Not only was it clear that everyone around me on campus struggled with the issues of conformity it was shown through the food industry and consumer’s choices about what they choose to drink and eat based on trends and popularity. This issue of conformity has ultimately plagued the food industry, environment and health of consumer’s. So not only is everyone buying the newest clothes and trying out the trendiest hairstyles but their diets and ideas about what is appropriate and not are also changing due to this idea of fitting in.
As a freshman at Santa Clara University, there has been a copious amount of changes in a small period of time. One of the major worries of any person coming to college is whether they are going to fit in or if they’re going to make friends and have a good time. Partying and alcohol are certainly a popular combination amongst college campuses across the nation. It is the common understanding that if a person drinks and gets crazy with their friends they will automatically
become more likable and they will make more friends. Thus, even if they a student does not necessarily enjoy or want to drink, the idea that their social life will become more enjoyable is motivation enough. Here is where conformity becomes an issue. Just to fit in students are willing to risk their health and well-being to do something that is considered “cool.”
Another major worry of incoming freshman is the “freshman 15.” Now with their newfound freedom and the opportunity to eat whatever they want and drink whatever they want, health comes into play. Corn has taken over the food industry and is found in all of the processed snacks such as Oreos, Doritos, and Cheez-its. I find it hard to say no when your roommates bring you chips and salsa or inviting you to In n Out, its hard to say no because you want to go out and have a social life. Because food is almost always centered around social gatherings, it leads people to indulge in corn filled foods with harmful consequences. A major trend in my dorm is ice cream. I don’t know why everyone is so obsessed, but it is constantly being eaten and it becomes a topic of conversation if you share the same favorite flavor with someone else. Maybe it’s the weather or possibly the fact that we are college students so we will eat anything that tastes good and is full of sugar. In the beginning of college it is difficult to have the confidence to speak your mind and opinion but by letting other people make decisions and influence a person they are doomed to have their health slowly decline.
In a collaborative essay I completed with my class I discovered that trends and fads are a big deal when it comes to the “foodies” living their lives. The new super foods are Greek yogurt and quinoa; they are great for your health and serve as a tasty treat or side to your dinner. However as everyone flocks towards the trendy foods they pay no attention the danger that they present the environment. The excess whey that is produced in the production of Greek yogurt is a much greater amount than regular yogurt and they have run out of places to put the waste. Since there is no more space for this waste companies have resorted to lakes and rivers even though whey is toxic to the environment. Before learning of this, I personally enjoyed Greek yogurt, but now when I eat, I cannot help but feel guilty about the consequences. Quinoa is the other food that is destroying the lands of Bolivia and weakening their economic system. Since the farmers in Bolivia must grow quinoa on such a massive level there is no time to properly tend to the land and this results in the destruction of the environment (Helmer).
Because quinoa poses so many benefits, residents of the US pay no attention. I have come to the conclusion that majority of Americans want their healthy and delicious foods as long is it is not directly affecting the US. However we as a nation should own up to our high demands and take responsibility for destroying the environment and well-being of other countries.
To provide a current example of conformity through fads, I was recently talking to my friends about the gluten-free diet and what it really meant. Freshman, Amita Kumar claimed, “I really want to try it, I don’t exactly know why it’s a good thing, but a lot of people do it so it must have some benefits.” This is a clear example of how people just go along with other beliefs and trends just because it is what seems right.
McDonald’s is probably the most well-known fast food chain in the entire world. What makes it so special? Is it that the food is so cheap? Or is the fact that it’s quick, full of fat, yet incredibly delicious? All ages indulge in the fast food industry, even babies are being fed French fries and burgers before they can even talk. Now in a typical fast food meal, there is corn sweetener in the drink, high fructose corn syrup in the bun, the fries are fried in corn oil and the beef comes from corn-fed cows (Pollan). A reason that people indulge even though it is unhealthy is that it is easy for everyone and everyone can afford it. Although most parents understand that a happy meal from McDonald’s is not the most nutritious meal for a five-year old, the commercials, ads make it seem like a good choice and make it seem like everyone is eating it so it cannotnbe that bad. Since McDonald’s have used Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in their commercials in previous years, it forces people to be a part of that because if those athletes believe in it, you should too.
As the topics of our class expanded to human, animal, and machine, my research further branched out in to the genetic modifying of people and babies. This method would mean that people would be able to choose traits for their children and make them exactly the kind of person that they wanted. However, tying in with conformity, the introduction of this procedure would cause humans to become less in touch with their natural aspects and parts of life necessary to be a true person or a normal member of society. Francis Fukuyama, a senior fellow at Stanford and an expert on human evolution and politics that claims, “genetic enhancements may change our descendants to such an extent that they lose their humanity” (Schwartz). Everyone would be the same and there would be no variety in the world. I am assuming parents have the same general idea of a perfect child; they should be athletic, smart, attractive and kind. My research has led me to the conclusion that this process is not yet possible, however science is advancing at a rate where it should be soon.
Conformity is a hot topic in Hollywood and the major issue surrounding all of the actresses and artists is their weight. Everyone has to be stick thin or else they are not good enough for roles or modeling gigs. Jennifer Lawrence is a prime example of a actresses that completely disagrees with this idea and does not believe in diets, or starving herself. Most of her red carpet interviews consist of her talking about French fries, taking naps and hating exercise. She seems to be content with her image and believes that society should not push girls to starve themselves to look like celebrities. When talking about society pressuring her to lose weight she claimed, “I don’t want little girls to be like, “Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner!” Beliefs of image and appearance are being forced on children and it affects their way of viewing the world and themselves. Society is another example where conformity has pushed people too far and is now endangering the heath of people.
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Helmer, Jodie. “Is the ‘foodie’ Culture Actually Ruining Food?” MSN News. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2014.
Jennifer Lawrence. Digital image. Fit Tip Daily. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
Lewis, Stephen. McDonald’s Food. Digital image. New York Times, 4 May 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
Pollan, Michael. “We Are What We Eat.” Center for Ecoliteracy. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
Red Solo Cups. Digital image. English House Gazzette. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
Schwartz, Bernard. “The End of History-Francis Fukuyama.” Athanaeum Library of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.
Tonnes of Quinoa Harvested-FAOSTAT. Digital image. The Food Doctors. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.