17 May 2015

on pretty young things


What I want to talk about today is: have you noticed how all the female foodie stars are such pretty young things? Or is it just me (noticing, not young and pretty)?

Whether they're clean living, vegan, sugar free or bone-brothing paleos, they're all young and gorgeous, with super-model-wavy hair, chic Breton stripes and skinny jeans, and glowy perfect skin. Even my mother has noticed: Rachel Khoo is such a cute thing, she declares, mesmerising us as much with her perfectly applied red lippie as her ability to blitz up shortcrust dough. Undeniably, enviably beautiful.

Rachel's not the only one, and their TV shows, blogs or books are filled with as many portraits as them as close-ups of their food. It's not enough to be a great cook, you better look dishy too. At least that's what it seems to me.

Don't get me wrong - none of this is sour grapes. Well, maybe I'm a little conflicted. Like the photos I see in Vogue and other glossy magazines I love to read, of models and celebs, I know there is much magic involved (makeup, botox, photoshop) to produce that perfection - but I still can't help compare myself wistfully to these unattainable images. So when I watch or see these female foodies, there is awe and knowing folded thru with perhaps a little envy (especially if I'm having a bad hair day or I'm dagging about in sloppy trackies after a day in high heels).We're savvy enough to decipher what the message is: that their brand of cooking, eating and living not only infuses them with healthful antioxidants and omega 3s, but mega-doses of loveliness too. So maybe it will do the same for us, too?

They are younger, hipper descendants of Nigella Lawson. Do we all remember when she oozed onto our TV screens with her heady, winking sex appeal (interestingly, she was conspicuously visually absent from her early books)? I used to closely observe her movie star eye makeup and wonder where I could find just that shade of lip gloss (I'm a brunette too, but that, unfortunately, is where all physical similarities end). In comparison, I don't think any of us had girl-crushes on Margaret Fulton or Delia Smith, did we?

Recently I was offered the chance to do some appliance demonstrations at a major homewares store (for various reasons, I declined). After my initial ooooh!, I started wondering how I'd cook, smile and talk at the same time (you try it - it's not as easy as Poh et al make it look). And then, what should I wear? Something safe and low key, because that's how locals roll on the weekend? Or something more me, with my pink lippie, a dress and ballet flats (perhaps there is a little of Ms Khoo in me after all). To manicure, or not to manicure? For a moment, that was the burning question.

In the end, it all came to nought, but... oh the decisions and the possibilities. Hats off, I concluded, to all those glossy gals, from the retro super-glam to the no-makeup-makeup chicks. We want to eat and cook like them; perhaps, just a little bit, we want to live and look and be like them too.

19 comments:

  1. Very interesting e. Wow...an appliance demonstration! Not as easy as it looks I am sure. As for the glamorous cooks and food celebrities, it is all about selling an entire, rather slick package isn't it? I hope you are having a lovely Sunday.

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    1. thank you jane - I had a very relaxing sunday and I hope you did too. yes, it really is an entire lifestyle package now.

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  2. ha, this was funny e! So true about what we look at and I believe so not true with daily life, for us and for them. I always wonder about all the ways to 'filter' our life in order to post a certain 'lifestyle' that is not real. But we are humans, and always need a carrot in front. We might as well make it pretty with shiny hair and perfect teeth!
    Always a manicure say those who get in front of a camera to cook!

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    1. paula what a wonderful away of looking at it - a carrot to entice! and yes, this modern instagram life is about filtering to present a perfect life to others. I think most of us are at least aware enough to know that selective editing is going on.
      and yay to manicures :-)

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  3. I suspect there were those who had a Delia crush - she was just a bit more wholesome!
    Do we buy the whole lifestyle thing? Maybe do we do the same thing (without lippy and high heels) in our own blogs.
    I demonstrated bread making once and failed miserably on the doing and talking together. Luckily it was a farm event so I didn't have to dress up. Maybe you'll get another chance.

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    1. anne you make me smile - bread takes such skill and concentration, no wonder you couldn't talk!
      but you're right - yes, our blogs yes are a polished selective view of our lives. maybe that's why I love writing about my disasters; to show it's not all rosy perfection
      and I remember one delia show; I envied her kitchen with the beautiful glass revealing a bird and flower-filled garden behind her.

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  4. You're right, they're all gorgeous aren't they. It's okay for the men to be weird little trolls though. Hmm...

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    1. ha ha CJ yes, double standards at play!

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  5. A great read, Elizabeth (really enjoyed this!) and you've raised some good points... yep, Rachel and others are quite 'gorgeous' with their lippy, hair and boobs, aren't they... although I'm truly not envious as I'm happy just being my 56 year old self. Let's not overlook the likes of the lovely Maggie Beer and Lyndey Milan, just a couple of the hugely successful not-so-young-ones, so maybe there's still hope for me? And, honestly, I reckon you should have said yes to the gig xox

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    1. yes, we have our doyennes - our icons - Maggie, Stephanie, Margaret F and Lyndey, with decades-long careers because of their skill and experience. shall we see if these spring chickens have careers as long and illustrious as them?
      ps I'm glad someone mentioned the boobs, lizzy!

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  6. Oh I agree with you E - I often wonder if they in fact eat any of the food they are cooking?

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    1. ha! well there was never any doubt nigella did :-)

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  7. Isn't it sad that in today's society we value appearance and marketability over substance. It's not only foodies - I see it all the time working in the food and health area. Just look at Belle Gibson.
    I honestly think it is more a thing with the younger on-screen foodies - once you have the experience of a Maggie Beer/Stephanie Alexander/Margaret Fulton no one cares what you look like anymore. But if you are young, attractiveness is important. I won't say it's the only thing, but it's certainly going to add to your audience if you have visual appeal as well as making interesting food.
    I have to say, having done a few healthy cooking demonstrations in my time, they are awesome fun but a lot of work. Co-ordinating giving information (often health related as well as food related) while cooking is a performance, but when you have a passion for something I think that comes through. It was more pressure when we did demos with taste tests though. Then the pressure really was on. I highly recommend it though.

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    1. bek, I agree with everything you say. I think blogs, instagram and other social media thingies mean we live in such a highly visual society, so you have to play into that. and society, in general, doesn't value older women. a sad state of affairs.
      it's really interesting hearing your experiences of demos - thanks for sharing them. taste tests - did you encourage people to lick the bowl? that's fascinating.

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  8. 1) Nice lipstick colour, it balances out your wooden spoon perfectly.
    2) I guess vanity appeals particularly to the young.
    Some of the prettier cooks don't really have depth of character and there was one gorgeous Italian lady who gushed about her food, two dishes of which I tried and they were awful despite her enthusiasm. I think quality always wins out and you have to be in the public eye for a long time to win notoriety. Next time dress like you are going to a bbq and do that demonstration for your own fun. Sorry, Rachel who?

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    1. thanks merryn, I had fun with that pic :-)
      the proof is literally in the pudding! if the recipes fail, it doesn't matter how TV-pretty you are - they won't last.

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    2. Exactly but I enjoyed reading your blog anyway :) x

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  9. I think this is why I enjoyed River Cottage so much with Hugh Fearnley. Real people, great tucker with not a hint of Hollywood ��

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    1. good point, frogpond! very real. are the blokes allowed to get away with scruffier appearances though?

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