Hello, I’m Bertie. This column is basically a place for me to call bullshit on girl related stuff that I think is dumb. While I appreciate the importance of girl talk, I’m not about to braid your pubic hair or send you the results of my latest smear test. Instead, I will pass on any remotely useful knowledge I happen to discover re: being a FEMALE. Trust me: I’m not a doctor, but I do have a Ph.D in pretty girl bullshit.
PRETTY GIRL BULLSHIT #26: A TINY OVEN CAN RUIN YOUR LIFE
Recently, I have developed an addiction – which I'm pretty sure you will too, if you're naive enough to click any of the following links – to watching infomercials on YouTube. To my Christmas list (UGG boots and Kiehls, in case you were wondering), I’ve added the Grab-A-Bite, the Slice-O-Matic, and the Happy Hotdog Man. Of these three inventions, the Grab-A-Bite is the best; it's like an eating utensil which combines the scooping of the West with the wiliness of the East. It’s a chopspork, basically, and I need one. Why England has failed to generate a rival market of totally useless kitchen stuff, I’ll never know, but until it does I’ll just have to bite the bullet and pay the $100 shipping and handling fees on my EZ Cracker.
Infomercials are so fucking weird (yes, braniac, we've all seen the Louis Theroux doc). They’re only ever screened on daytime QVC, meaning anyone who isn’t a student (irrelevant, because they have no dollar) or a housewife, is blissfully unaware of their existence. There’s a fuck-tonne of stuff to be said about attempting to reduce the role of already entirely domesticated women to one that relies solely upon over-priced dysfunctional gadgets, but sometimes you just can’t argue against a microwaveable eggcup with added optional scrambler.
And they aren't just for bored women either, they make kitchen bullshit for kiddies, too: Introducing the Easy-Bake Oven, a small, plastic, microwave-ish-looking thing – I suppose "dinky" is the appropriate word here – in which you can make water and gum-paste cakes covered in red sugar. Sounds delicious and educational, right?
Wrong, stupid. The Easy-Bake Oven doesn't promote healthy-eating or even, I dunno, "food awareness", whatever that is. And that's fine. I'm not saying that no can ever eat a cheeseburger again, or that we all have to be stuck forever in those weird few months where Jamie Oliver went all Pravda and tried to persuade us that crisps are a societal threat tantamount to the hydrogen bomb.
My problem with the Easy-Bake Oven stems from how cutesy it is. Which might seem like a weird thing to say, because it's a children's toy, but what the hell is it for, really? What's its purpose? No one's ever gonna cook anything they actually want to eat with the Easy-Bake Oven. In fact, I'm convinced that the Easy-Bake Oven is nothing more or less than a covert capitalist attempt to hardwire little girls into valuing the purely aesthetic more highly than anything of real substance. It's an indoctrination into the cult of the pointlessly cute, a brainwashing into the religion of the emptily pretty. I realise I'm coming on a little strong here, but I just fought my way through a superfood salad that tasted like the inside of a mobile phone, and I’m not happy about it.
Also, this woman. Jesus Christ, this woman:
But let's not preoccupy ourselves with her, because she's not the disease, she's the victim. If you're new to the Easy-Bake Oven, let me talk you through the process. Firstly, you take a packet of dried play-doh crumbs and mix them with water. You then mildly stew the resulting sludge in an "oven" that’s just about strong enough to keep a light bulb going. It’s not the cooking or ingredients or the flavour that matters; it’s whether or not you can make your jumped-up water biscuit, covered in industrial pink cement powder, look adorbz.
Which won't be possible, because those stupid biscuits are really hard to get right, and yours won’t look anything like the ones on the box. Again, not to be dramatic, but that gap between the unattainable fantasy and the depressing reality is exactly why the beauty industry is considered oppressive. Easy Bake have just taken it upon themselves to start girls on it early, I guess.
I'm willing to bet that the little girl who spends all day tarting up inedible cookies grows into a woman who marries for money so that she can afford plastic surgery and a massive house to keep more unnervingly tidy than a German designer luxury bathroom warehouse. Or, at the very least, that these ugly, clunky, irrelevant bits of plastic will ultimately be shunned in favour of pretty stuff you don’t even have to resist eating, like lip-gloss and handbags. And that's when linking the phenomenon to capitalism/patriarchy/etc won't seem as far-fetched as it might seem right now.
Maybe you can only really measure the extent of its effects in later life. Maybe developing this early impulse to associate food with abstinence means that, in middle age, the compulsion to abstain from consuming anything valuable will be replaced by a desperation to hoard anything of worth inside your sad, starved, unloved body. You’ll find yourself binging on golden syrup, patisserie creme and fondant fancies until finally, bloated and ashamed, you’ll knock yourself out trying and failing to fit your head into the Easy-Bake Oven door. Fuck those guys.
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes
Previously: Why Are All My Teen Idols Voting for Romney?