Culture & Perspective
“Culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language, marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we greet visitors, how we behave with loved one, and a million other things” – Cristina De Rossi
America is the third largest country in the world. It is made of myriad cultures from all the different people that have come to America over the years. Food is an extremely important term to many Americans. We love our food.
American food was mostly influenced by Europeans and Native Americans in its early history. It is through other cultures that Americans have created their own types of foods. There are lots of foods that have been identified as American, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, potatoes chips, macaroni and cheese, and meat loaf. There is even the saying “As American as apple pie” that has come to mean something that is authentically American.
Food in America today has become less valued for its authenticity and instead, valued for how easy it is. TV dinners and fast food have become the norm in the United States. Right now, food in America is dominated by cheap processed food that we continuously demand and consume, regardless of how bad it truly is for us. Americans like when things are quick, easy, and cheap, whether that means buying something at the supermarket or at a fast-food place. It doesn’t matter as long as it is convenient. While fast-food is definitely overeaten in America, the rise for organic, natural food has started over the past few years.
The growth of demand for organic foods is averaging more than 20 percent per year for more than a decade. While organic foods aren’t cheap or convenient to obtain, many Americans have come to value the healthy side of organic food more than convenience. This just goes to show the way that America is constantly changing and developing when it comes to many things, such as food. Since America is so large and diverse, it is constantly being influenced by other cultures and ideas. There are a plethora of foods that wouldn’t be in America today had it not been for other cultures and ethnicities; this is what makes America, America.
What we wear and how we wear it
Clothing in America varies by social status, region, occupation and climate. I am originally from Chicago, and the style of Chicagoans is pretty different from that of Texans. When I first moved to the Dallas area, I was completely taken aback by what the average person wore. It seemed that everyone always dressed to impress, every outfit was accompanied by some piece of jewelry and an expensive purse to match. However, I came from an area that wearing a flannel and jeans was dressing up. Something that is very interesting about America is how within each different area, there are different clothing trends and norms.
True American fashion is largely influenced by celebrities and the media. Americans put a lot of value in the media and strive to look like the beautiful celebrities and models that we are surrounded by daily. I know that I have purchased several articles of clothing because I saw it on someone famous and thought, “I want to look like her.” While America is very diverse, even in the clothing trends, our culture still places too much importance on what the media portrays. For example, if you look at swimsuits that Americans wore in the 50’s to swimsuits girls wear today, you will find that the swimsuits have gotten smaller and much more revealing, and a huge reason for this is because of celebrities and the media. It just goes to show that the American culture truly values what we see in magazines and on TV. However, I think this is something that we must be careful of.
Modesty in America has definitely decreased over the years and while to some that may not seem like such a bad thing, I think instead of making less clothing a trend, modesty should come back into style. Although I can’t change what celebrities wear or the way that they influence our culture, I can take the initiative to dress myself in a modest way, even if it makes me stand out from the social norms of our culture. The diversity and welcoming nature of America is something I am very thankful for. However, as Christians, it is important that we don’t become of this world, regardless of if that makes us stand out or not. Although the culture of America lets anyone wear just about anything, I encourage whoever is reading this to remember that sometimes going against the norm is what we have to do to bring about change and I think that the clothing trends in America need to be changed.
Religion in America
I grew up in a Christian home and for the most part, was always surrounded by Christians. It was abnormal for me to come across someone who didn’t hold to at least similar beliefs as me. Honestly, up until high school, I was really only aware of Christianity. Any other religion was a foreign concept to me.
However, I remember in high school, we talked about a plethora of different religions and cultures that held to different beliefs. My eyes were opened to how huge the world we live in is, and how many different types of people and beliefs are within it. I think this is the case for a lot of people who grow up in America; they are only truly aware of what they grew up knowing.
Although America is a place full of diversity, it is also a place that has cultural norms and values. America was built on the foundation of Christianity and this remains to be the dominant religion in our country. I am super thankful for this, but I also think that people coming into America may not be as accepting to this fact as we are.
America is a place of freedom. Freedom to share your beliefs, regardless of whether they are the popular position or not. With this freedom comes responsibility. As someone that grew up in America, I have come to see that being responsible with your freedom is so important. I went to a Christian high school and came to see that so many people at my school would speak freely of their beliefs but in a way that was sometimes offensive to others that didn’t share the same beliefs. By seeing these things throughout my high school years, and even into my college ones, I have come to see how vital it is to make sure that you use the freedom given in America wisely. Religion can be such a touchy subject and while we, as Christians, should strive to share the word of God, we must make sure that we are sensitive to people around us that don’t share the same beliefs.
With this in mind, I want to encourage whoever is reading this to remember to stay open-minded, regardless of whether or not you agree. America is a place of acceptance, and while we as Christians should constantly be trying to share the gospel, we must make sure that we are doing this in a way that is loving and understanding.