Safe Cakes imagines a staged food photography spread typical of what would be featured in a magazine or a blog - but instead of the characteristic display of spontaneous abundance and freewheeling ease, it gives voice to what eating feels like to the half of the global population, myself included, that are dieting to lose weight, managing disordered eating, or struggling with weight self-stigma. This project demonstrates both the difficulty and the hubris of functional weight-management: joyfulness, pride and despair all available in equal measure; the necessity of being alone and staying home to have complete control over ingredients; the sheer amount of work it takes to ensure what we are eating is optimal for the successful maintenance of our body size; the imperfection that is reality compared to the images we aspire to. To share this project is at once embarrassing and boastful.
I made fake cakes, crumb-coating and piping styrofoam dummy cake bases with a mixture of wall filler (spackling) and acrylic paint. From there I decorated the cakes in “safe foods”, foods that either do not promote binging, or are believed not to cause weight gain. I chose the classic, unimpeachable symbol of virtuosity: vegetables. The cakes are photographed with various paraphernalia of weight stigma: measuring tape, social media, and birthday candles representing my personal “goal weight”. This is the food reality of many, as we pursue the specific physicality stipulated by our culture.