Food by VICE

‘The Great British Bake-Off’ Is Being Accused of Frosting-Related Sexism

The public’s current qualms with the popular series are over promotional photos wherein pink and blue frostings are designated for male and female contestants, respectively.

by Hilary Pollack
Aug 17 2016, 8:00pm

It's 2016, guys. We're on the brink of having the first female US president, a four-foot-eight woman just kicked everyone's ass in the Olympics (lookin' at you, Simone), and Will Smith's son wears dresses in public because your contrived standards of masculinity don't mean shit to him and he feels like it, OK?

GTFO, gender norms.

These days, people are feeling pretty woke when it comes to the arbitrary classification of certain things as being "for girls" or "for boys." (Let's not forget the BIC for Her drama, after all.) Maybe there was a time when women were looking to reach for a butterfly-emblazoned bottle of white zinfandel over a black-labeled Merlot, but we're living in the future, (wo)man, and we want equality in all things—including food and drink.

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Just ask fans of the BBC Two series The Great British Bake-Off, wherein extremely British people make extremely British things and then judge them in extremely British ways. There are "fondant fiascos" and pudding sabotages and biscuit boxes and all kinds of other very serious baking-related scenarios endured by the contestants. But when you taste their cakes—goodness gracious, they're fit for a queen. The Queen, even.

But all's not well in the land of flour and sugar: The promotional photos for the show are currently being accused of promoting sexism in the form of gendered bowls of frosting.

The public's current qualms with the photos are over the difference in coloration of the frostings for contestants, based on their genders: pink for women, blue for men. What is this, anyway? A baby shower?

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The Twittersphere was positively miffed at what they viewed as a sexist system of characterizing the men and women on the show, as pointed out in Metro.

Even members of Parliament spoke up with their concerns about #Icinggate.

Betty Crocker's UK branch, injecting their opinion in this baking controversy, offered solace to both blue and pink frosting-lovers falling anywhere on the gender spectrum.

Viewers of the show seem to be a sensitive bunch. Season six winner Nadiya Hussain was criticized by fans after a photo of her prepping a birthday cake for Queen Elizabeth stirred up a controversy over whether she uses cage-free eggs. Yes, they're that sensitive. So it went noticed very quickly when the show seemed to draw a (frosting) line between its male and female contestants for no apparent reason. And despite its somewhat precious and antiquated premise, the show actually has a strong history of diversity among contestants, which may be why viewers are so surprised to see its creators fumble in this regard. But if nothing else, the controversy surrounding the icing has stirred up even more interest in the already popular program.

And of course, there are other theories about the color-coding—that it's not about gender at all, people! As Metro points out, several of the male contestants are wearing pink shirts, and vice versa. And then there's this:

How will this inferno of outrage end, friends? We have a feeling that in spite of it all, all of the free publicity kicked up by Icinggate will allow the producers to have their cake and eat it, too.