Our cakes, ourselves: The absurd performativity of two whole cakes

By | May 7, 2009

Yesterday, #twowholecakes made its Twitter debut as a hashtag, and my kneejerk inclination – over-explainer that I am – was that I should probably rapidly define what two whole cakes is, what it means, where it came from, why it’s stuck with me so long. I didn’t actually plan or intend for it to spread like it did. Therefore I had expected to begin this post by telling the story of where the phrase “two whole cakes” first captured my imagination. Telling that story, however, would necessitate the visitation of some additional context and backstory that would probably diminish the beauty and simplicity of the broader two whole cakes concept, which has come to represent something greater than the sum of its parts, those original hypothetical cakes of yore. This is all the more evident after reading the various creative contexts (and occasional confusion) that the “two whole cakes” tag was cultivating on Twitter.

When we don’t know what something means but it sounds compelling nonetheless, we try to create meaning for it. And so it happened that the two whole cakes tag evolved into a slightly non sequitur fatty shout-out.

As a result I no longer want to ruin it by telling the mundane tale of the origins of the phrase. Instead, I am taking a more gentle, inclusive approach, and asking: what does two whole cakes mean to you?

To me, two whole cakes represents the absurd hyperbole associated with weight and body size. It acknowledges that there are folks out there, in numbers, who sincerely believe that all fatasses everywhere do things like sit down and eat two whole cakes on a regular basis, whence their fatness is maintained or improved upon. The over-the-topness of not one, but two whole cakes highlights the ridiculousness of beating myself up for choices that, ultimately, are not going to ruin my life or anyone else’s. Did you eat something yesterday that you’re judging yourself harshly for? Stop. Did you say or think something critical about someone else’s eating habits or their body? Think about why you did that, and how you feel when someone else does it to you. Did someone else say something damaging to you that’s lingering in the back of your mind? Acknowledge why it hurt, and move on.

Two whole cakes is about giving up and letting go of all the self-hating garbage we carry around inside our heads, and finding acceptance and contentment as we are now. Even if we’ve eaten two whole cakes.

Because ultimately, you or I could eat two whole cakes and probably the worst thing that would come of it is that we’d feel terribly sick afterward (me especially, as I am not a person who is big on sweets). But our lives wouldn’t end. We wouldn’t be bad people. We wouldn’t even have anything to apologize for. I don’t really advocate the eating of two whole cakes literally, but the phrase, to me, captures something of the wild freedom and relief I felt when I was first discovering fat acceptance. It reminds me of the way that simple concept – of eating what I wanted, when I was hungry, without feeling guilty, and stopping when I was done – was such a revolution. I could eat two whole cakes if I wanted to! I don’t want to, but I could, if I did.

Two whole cakes is about laughing at the stereotypes and assumptions that hurt us and thereby lessening their power to do so. Pass it on. Tell your friends. Reinvent it for your own purposes. Two whole cakes is a power that can’t be denied.

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