Sunny Park Presented At An ICA Regional Conference

Sunny Park (Right) presenting her work at the conference.

Doctoral student Sunny Park and School of Communication Associate Professor Rachel Bailey attended an International Communication Association (ICA) Regional Conference in Dijon, France from May 23-25. The conference was all about food communication, a main line of research for both Park and Bailey and was hosted by the University of Burgundy. 

Park presented a paper on “Food and/in Popular Culture” at the conference surrounding her research on TikTok “What I Eat In A Day” videos. This was her first experience as a panelist discussing how popular culture influences dietary behavior. Park said, “I was particularly nervous given France’s rich culinary tradition and wanted to be well-prepared to discuss food-related topics. It was quite a rewarding experience to engage with global food scholars and expand my own understanding through numerous conversations that broadened my perspective on food studies.”

One key takeaway for Park was realizing how persuasive food is in every aspect of our lives, encouraging her to shift her future research efforts beyond specific media platforms and look at food in various media and everyday interactions.

 Both Park and Bailey have examined how visual cues relating to the body in social media videos affect body image and appetite. Reflecting on the experience, Bailey said, “We got a chance to talk and think with leading scholars considering the influences of food communication on our culture, environment, and health.”

Their exploration in food communication did not end at the convention. Director of the School of Communication, Patrick Merle, arranged Park and Bailey with a private tour and wine tasting in Chambolle-Musigny and had the mayor himself explain the rigorous laws and policies in place to protect the land and wine-making processes that maintain the wine’s superior quality. Park commented, “Understanding the environmental and cultural efforts involved in wine production deepened my appreciation for this craft.”

Patrick Merle (Left), Rachel Bailey (Middle), Sunny Park (Right) photographed together during the wine tour.

Park highlighted one surprising insight on how the representation of food influences societal views on health and body image. She said, “Popular culture often moralizes foods as “good” or “bad,” impacting dietary choices and leading to guilt and shame around eating. Diet trends and the glorification of certain eating patterns (like veganism or keto) shape public perceptions and behaviors regarding health. These insights underscore the powerful role of popular culture in shaping our food-related attitudes and behaviors.