NYU Steinhardt News

Food Studies MA Student Elizabeth Unger Writes on Bento Boxes for National Geographic

In January 2016, Food Studies student Elizabeth Unger wrote an article for National Geographic, "Is There a Dark Side to Those Adorable Bento Boxes?" where she examines the relationship Japanese women have to bento box culture.
As she writes, "While it may look like all fun and games, some believe this practice has evolved into a narcissistic cult-culture, one in which circles of mothers prepare exquisite bento boxes to outdo each other and receive validation online."

Interviewing both Japanese parents as well as expats living in Japan, Ms. Unger eloquently touches on issues of identity, the subtleties of gender norms, as well as class and wealth disparities. Using the bento box as a symbol of underlying pressures, she observes the complexity of maternal competition (which in the U.S. we refer to as "mom bashing") and the fragility of the schoolyard ecosystem.

Read Elizabeth's Unger's piece here: http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/28/is-there-a-dark-side-to-those-adorable-bento-boxes/