Special K...Miracle Yoghurt


Cai Zhang

Food, feminist, copy-writing, performance artist. 

@cybunnie twitter @cai_zr instagram



So Why Am I Never The Right Shape?


Whether you are curled up cosy in front of your preferred screen: watching your Bake-offs on demand; or you might indulge the luxury to Sky-plus Adam Richman (Man vs.Food) head-butting stacks of meat for your entertainment. No doubt you have came across or ‘driven’ past these annoying food adverts before or in-between your content. 

Picture a smug looking model drinking some elixir; perhaps over excited girl skipping around in her pants eating yoghurt; or even a wire haired timid looking office girl losing the plot over sugary snack cravings.

you can’t help to ask: which one is aimed at me? 

Are you the one sexually harassing a male gardener at work while enjoying a diet coke

with your other female friends? Have you had been mistakingly shoving food into your handbag, instead of your mouth throughout the day, and had to be sorted out by a yoghurt with patented bacteria?  Perhaps you are tricking yourself that delicious cream cheese is only half fat, so you can have twice as much?

In the age of Supersize vs Superskinny, apparently you must be either one or another to be worthy of attention. Just what is that about skinny women and make people loathe them? How come putting on weight somehow by default makes you nicer?

In late nineties and early naughties, stick thin women were worshipped. It wasn’t long time ago when Hollywood stylist Rachel Zoe dressed up the Olsen twins with huge handbags and bug eye sunglasses.Then every woman across the land emulated. Even men were not safe at the altar of the skinny, when TopMan took a big risk and promoted the skinny jeans for men, many laughed. Now this skepticism has became a stable item in the wardrobe.  Then people got bored, inevitably turned on to the trimmed, and widely condemned them as a health risk, bad role model to teens, and are against femininity. Bony collar and button size boobs move aside, Kim Kardashian is here to pour her ‘envious curves’ into neon bright body con outfits and ‘ celebrating’ that fact she is a ‘real woman’. So bad news for size 8s, you are now officially fictional.

This relationship between food and body image is quite a murky territory to navigate. We seem to have these communal belief that fatness indicates "gross inability of self control, then thinness connotes the maniacal opposite: steely resistance to temptation and a stoic submission to the deprivation required to maintain such a figure” Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett wrote in the centurial edition of New Statesman.

A woman can not be naturally thin and healthy, and enjoy eating a good diet. No, she must be this control freak: who counts to every decimal places of the calorie on her way to fulfil her fascist exercise regime after her making the hourly record of her weight-in. A woman who is full chested and plentiful in the rear, must raise up and fight this feeling of shame, and feel marginalised by default.

She needs to fight this by getting her kit off, perhaps with others wobbly bodies in a semi circle,to sell deodorant and body cream for Dove. She could be challenged to eat a fortified cereal diet to get into any red coloured garments adequately. All in the name of fitting into a smaller jeans next time. Because this is not at all contradictory that she should celebrate herself as “real beauty” just the way she is; but she could do with getting a bit smaller and more fictionally beautiful.

While we are busy being never quite the right shape, women’s bodies are common property dissected like meat to sell the next health bars and miracle drinks. These food products do not fulfil us any more: leaving you feeling more hungry and anxious then ever. We all know you will achieve little while feeling this way, women or men.

I had my hips pinched by my mother when I was fifteen, she said “it is not going to be this thin for very long if you eat that left-over tonight”. All the while, for about thirteen years before that memorable jab on my hips was for being accused “too thin” by other friends and family.  She used to make sure I eat double portion at dinner and promised that ‘if you are a bit plumper, other girls would like you more. So you don’t have hang out with stinky boys all the time.” My weight bloomed visibly between age fourteen and fifteen. I thought she’d finally be satisfied. “No boy’s gonna ask a fat girl out” the finger was wagged at me again. Suddenly carbohydrates are banned three meter radius of me.  It is probably safer to be found with cocaine than refine sugar in my house. Okay, maybe a little exaggerated on the cocaine part.

But this is not just my poor mother’s short comings, or even all the grandmothers before her. In fact, this is not just isolated to my family, nor exclusive to mother-daughter relationships. This fat-shame is encouraged amongst sisters and female friends. So it is not just:Oh, isn’t modern society bad? It has been quite a long time that we are told we should always aspire to what we are not and what impossible to achieve. Whatever the next shape becomes fashionable, trust it won’t be entirely yours.

So step back a little in this relationship between you and food. Be hesitate towards using food to fulfil your desire for happiness. It is only one part of your life. So next time you had a extra slice of cake, don’t ruin the experience by feeling guilty afterwards.

Cai Zhang, is a performance artist and a food writer; also a copywriter for a start-up. In her artwork, she explores the internet as a psychological space and inveristage what it means to be digitally human. She writes about the relationship between food and body image as a female living in London and being online. She is a contributor to Shades of Noir, and a columnist for Commonplace. She can be reached @cybunnie on twitter; @cai_zr on instagram ;admin@cai.gallery via email.


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