The rise and rise of the cupcake goddesses

I know there are some big issues out there – Iran looks like it might implode, blue fin tuna are about to go the way of the moa and people are selling their houses to pay the electricity bill but the question that has really gripped me this week is: “What is with Nigella Lawson and that cup of tea?”

Our own kitchen goddess, Alison Holst, would need Buckwheat as her personal stylist and then take a bucket load of E to get the same result. No cup of tea could ever, not even in a marketing manager’s mind, ever, be that exciting.

And I’m deeply suspicious of the resurgence of the cupcake trend and trussed up look of the 1950’s just when the job market is getting tight. Haven’t we been here before?


I thought women got sold the whole ‘1000 mind numbing ways to clean a toilet or make a one egg sponge’ deal the first time round to get them out of the work force to make way for the returning servicemen after the war.

Cleaning product companies have gone into overdrive inventing ever more satanic looking toilet germs that only their superfowl duck or whatever other cartoon character they’ve enlisted in the fictitious war against germs, can fight.

Girls, there are no germs of mass destruction lurking in your toilet bowl.

The real job of most of these commercials is to make women paranoid that the family toilet bowl is somehow reflective of their own personality. What – after all, does your loo say about you? Well, nothing. It’s a loo. Not a Nazi informer. But is the sub-text that perhaps we should all give up our day jobs and go home to help fight the war against the toilet germs? And what if Germaine was right? What if the domestic bliss gig is just a crock?

My own grandmother was so bored as a housewife in the ‘50s her mother gave her cigarettes to stop her nervous habit of biting her nails and ruining her glamorous demeanour.

My gran majored in golf, perfect nails, gin and an excellent smoking ethic but despite her life of relative ease I don’t recall her being particularly happy or satisfied.

Let’s face it. Nobody changes lives by cleaning a toilet or baking the perfect cupcake (although the healing benefits of a really good day baking are not to be overlooked but only if you choose to do it, not as some form of ritualised feminine exercise in self-worth.) And who are we kidding anyway – the cupcakes and the soufflés are only going to impress our girl friends or gay friends because if you throw your average non-vegetarian bloke a steak and chips, chances are he’ll be happy.

I see a trend of 20 somethings throwing themselves wholeheartedly into gingham aprons and worry that they may wake up in 20 years and wonder where their life went.

The Nigella Lawson model of womanhood may slowly be creeping back into our consciousness as an archetypal figure of what being female means ;- demur, domestically diligent and permanently on heat.

The ‘desperate housewives’ model of womanhood is terrifying, yet disturbingly many young women are signing up for cupcake lessons and books on domestic goddesses are selling like..well, cupcakes. It just makes it tougher for the girls who want to take up political and economic space and may have the audacity to keep footing it in the big wide world instead of just marrying well.

Last time I checked Pride and Prejudice was supposed to be an interesting historical read not a social guide book.

So, if you’re one of the ones facing tough times at work - flag the cupcake lessons (unless that really is your thing) hold on to your hats and jobs and if the boys start accusing you of being a bitch in the board room, and that you should be more like Nigella, tell them; it’s something you picked up from the Vietcong during your time in ‘nam, or in your terrorist embroidery guild.

And a word to Nigella and that cup of tea. Get a room.

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