The recent social media trend of showing off spacious, bright, clean and perfectly organized pantries is rooted in racist, classist and sexist social structures, according to a professor from Chicago.
Associate Professor of Marketing Jenna Drenten said she took note of a recent uptick in what she branded ‘pantry porn’ – when women show off their fully stocked, methodically styled home supply closets.
In particular, Drenten singles out ultra-influencer celebrities like the Kardashians for proliferating the trend as they show their millions of followers their pristine storage rooms.
The Kardashians, however, are merely bolstering design elements, according to Drenten, that have long been intertwined with status.
While beautiful, neat, airy kitchens and homes have long been associated with wealth and status, dirty and unkept kitchens and houses have indicated that their owners are not responsible enough and do not have the means to take care of them.
Furthermore, women, it is implied, will be the ones taking care of the elaborate pantries and the things that are cooked with their abundance of ingredients – tying them, in a way that the modern woman perhaps rejects, to the domestic sphere.
Marketing professor Dr. Jenna Drenten of Loyala University in Chicago, alleged that the ‘pantry porn’ social media trend has roots in racism, classicism and sexism
A shot from Khloe Kardashian’s ‘pantry porn’ home setup. The KUWTK starlet is known to be an organizational fiend and her kitchen style aligns with that value
Drenten argues that tidiness is intertwined with status insofar as messiness has and is associated with an individual’s ability to be responsible and maintain a respectable home.
‘Cleanliness has historically been used as a cultural gatekeeping mechanism to reinforce status distinctions based on a vague understanding of ‘niceness’: nice people, with nice yards, in nice houses, make for nice neighborhoods,’ she wrote.
‘What lies beneath the surface of this anti-messiness, pro-niceness stance is a history of classist, racist and sexist social structures.’
Citing her research, Drenten claimed the viral videos of beautiful pantries complete with labeled and symmetrically placed supply bins of dried goods and ingredients function as new ‘status symbols’ for what it looks like to maintain a ‘nice’ well-kept home.
‘Perhaps it’s not surprising that pantry porn found its foothold during the COVID-19 pandemic, when shortages in the supply chain surged. Keeping stuff on hand became a symbol of resilience for those with the money and space to do so,’ she wrote.
Drenten also claimed that ‘pantry porn’ standards establish societal expectations for ideal wives and mothers.
‘Pantry porn, as a status symbol, relies on the promise of making daily domestic work easier. But if women are largely responsible for the work required to maintain the perfectly organized pantry, it’s critical to ask: easier for whom?’ she added.
According to Drenten, 85 percent of new homes built in America that are 3,500 square feet or larger feature a walk-in pantry, which is consistently listed as the most desirable kitchen feature for new homebuyers.
Drenten is an associate professor of marketing at the Quinlan School of Business as Loyola University in Chicago.
She specializes in digital consumer culture, including ‘how digital technologies and social media platforms (e.g., TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter) present new opportunities for consumers to express their identities and navigate life transitions.’
Kim Kardashian’s ode to the genre of ‘pantry porn’ features meticulously stacked snacks for her four young children, which are organized down to the way the cookies are placed in jars
Kim’s walk in refrigerator features plenty of healthy choices, including fruits and vegetables, which her kitchen staff prepare for her family daily
A fuller shot of Khloe’s pantry shows that each jar of pasta or any other ingredient is labeled in a simple white font that makes it easy for the mega-famous reality darling to find what she needs
The minimalistic and bright pantry stores everything from snacks to canned goods to ziplocs, plates and other household goods and appliances – all in the chicest way possible
Khloe and Kim Kardashian both boast stunning pantry porn closets of their own
Whether or not the modern luxe kitchen and pantry are predicated on a history of sexism, racism and classicism, it’s easy to understand the pantry envy some may have for the Kardashian-Jenner clan’s well-stocked cabinets and shelves.
Members of the media-friendly family frequently post their immaculate food storage rooms to their social media accounts for followers to drool over and draw inspiration from.
Khloe Kardashian, in particular, has shared with her followers over the years her knack for hyper-organization when it comes to the depths of her kitchen.
Each shelf is full – but not overly full – of precisely placed containers of food, including canned and boxed dry staples, snacks, sauces, dressings, and condiments.
Khloe’s pantry organization was styled and executed by The Home Edit, which worked closely with Khloe’s team to create a custom aesthetic.