• Kate

Food safety and the Patriarchy (or two things that don't usually belong together)

So you want to look pretty on Instagram. I get you. It’s hard not to fall into the patriarchal trap of thinking that how you look is more important than what you have to offer. More important than how smart you are, how funny you are or how well you communicate. I see that. But fuck the patriarchy! Seems a bit early in the blog to use the F word but… I stand by it.

What is definitely more important than the patriarchy is food safety. (Hint, everything is more important than the patriarchy). I’m a food safety geek. I’ve lost count of the numbers of times I’ve asked my husband to get the door for me, because if I touch it without cleaning it I have to wash my hands again. He thinks I’m ridiculous for taking it all so seriously. But I have OCD and part of that is catastrophising, so my brain goes like this.

What if I haven’t cleaned that door since the last time someone touched it? What if there’s some kind of bacteria on it? What if I touch the door and I don’t wash my hands and some of that bacteria ends up on the cake and someone gets sick? What if the person who gets sick has an underlying condition and they die from food poisoning? I will have become a murderer. What if one of my own children gets sick from the dirty door and I’m up all night with them vomiting? What if I get sick and can’t take care of them? And on, and on, and on…. ad infinitum.

And if that sounds incredibly exhausting, that’s because it is.

Food safety is super high on my list of priorities. Not only for my customers, but for my own family and myself. Every day that I don’t have to vomit or clean up vomit is a day won. Why this isn’t everyone’s priority in life I honestly don't understand. Bearing in mind that I have a whole blog post on healthy cakes, what is more important to your health than your cake being clean? And not in a bollocksy clean eating bullshit kind of way. But actually uncontaminated. And definitely without an extra portion of hair.

Honestly when I see people working with food with their hair down, or long nails, or jewellery on their hands I feel two kinds of sad. One is the sadness of food becoming contaminated. The other is the sadness that this person, who is often an expert in their field, feels that it’s necessary for how they look to take priority over what they do. Because a person can only be taken seriously if they are perceived to have made an effort with their appearance. And I’m fairly confident that if no one was watching, they would prioritise the task at hand over how they look.

And this is definitely more of an issue if you aren’t a white cis het male. This is an issue of privilege. A thin white woman is also afforded a greater laxity with her appearance than a fat one. She is already fulfilling the beauty normative standard by being thin and white. A fat woman has to make more of an effort. She should apologise for being fat by also trying to be pretty. Wearing makeup, having a pretty dress on, maybe wearing heels. A BAME woman should also apologise for her existence on television or any other kind of media but trying really really to be both thin and pretty and if she could manage not to be too smart as well that’s always a help. Excuse me while I go and vomit in the corner and this is a day that I don’t win.

So I don’t blame you for wanting to look pretty in your Instagram video. Really I don't. But what are you going to let the patriarchy make you compromise on? I know you weren’t expecting a blog post about food safety to actually be a feminist diatribe but...well...everything is political.

And while I respect anyone’s choice to dress how they want, style themselves in any way that they want I just want them to ask themselves why they are really doing it. If it makes you feel fabulous then I am here for that! But if it makes you feel a bit icky and you’re doing it because you feel like you owe society a way of looking, or a way of being then I’m here to say fuck that!

And also please, please, don’t put your hair in my food.

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