Beauty Standards

We preen, primp and tone our bodies to conform to modern beauty standards which change as every epoch puts worth in something different. We go into the supermarkets and we are greeted with the same. Preened, primped, toned fruit and vegetables that line aisles in glorious, idealist beauty. There are strict rules which these inanimate objects must live up to, even though they eventually get chopped, cooked or left to rot in the fruit bowl or salad draw of the fridge.

Now how many times have you walked past a local store with with shelves of ‘sub par’ veg, courgettes which have started to shrink, parsley which is yellow and wilting and then thought ‘disgusting’? Have you every found a mouldy beetroot in Waitrose and taken it to customer services and given it to them with disdain that they could be so careless to let it evade them?

Don’t worry, I suffer with this too. Yet I can’t stand food waste. There’s a campaign at the moment which is looking to force supermarkets to hand over their waste which is deemed edible. I wholeheartedly stand behind this! please take a moment to sign it.

Sometimes the unrealistic standards work in my favour as I claim a bag of peppers for 29p because they go out of date on the day of purchase. But I think we need to change our perceptions of what’s ‘bad’ or ‘off’ and try and salvage what we can.

In response I’ve created a piece called ‘Beauty Standards’ out of the medium of marzipan. Don’t judge the pieces by their appearance. They taste better than they look.



What a difference a couple of weeks make. I’m sat in a gorgeous Lebanese cafe in London called Comptoir. I’ve polished off the delicious Halloumi man’oucha which just oozed tasty, thigh fattening goodness and I’m waiting for my tiny rolls of baklawa heaven and a strong cup of coffee. A far cry from the sustenance I was party to in my previous experiment.

I’m currently on tour with NFK (no fixed kitchen) and I’m at the mercy of convenience food, crappy hotel breakfasts and my per diems. The past day has starkly contrasted my £15 a week and I’m now aghast at my own food habit. I love good food and good coffee and when I can I will feast like a queen. Equally when choice is limited, time is short and I’ve not been allowed to book my own accommodation, I will submit.

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Day 5 – £15 a week


Porridge with half a mashed banana and prunes
A fried egg on toast with black pudding (I’ll explain below)


Vegetable soup
2 slices of bread
Small portion of sweetcorn


An apple
3 dried abricots
A few nuts


Sourdough pizza with beetroot and goat’s cheese
1 Slice of bread rubbed with garlic and loaded with goat’s cheese

Day 5 was a good yet guilt ridden day. My lovely flat mate leaves on Sunday for 2 months to head off on tour so we decided to have a farewell breakfast. Essentially it was like she invited me around for breakfast except I brought my own eggs and toast and she supplied Ireland’s best black pudding. It was truly delicious but I felt like a fraud as it was not within my budget and I shouldn’t have really been eating things I had not bought. But isn’t it better to be sociable and be with friends? 

Then in work my energy levels and mood dropped so drastically after an intense sharing of our work that colleagues encouraged me to eat a rehearsal apple, some abricots and nuts. This should not be allowed as not everyone would be able to benefit from this luxury. 

In the evening I shared my pizza with my flatmate, I felt a little of the guilt eleviate from the morning as it was the first time I’d shared any of my food with people. I mean I’ve been very territorial about my food to the point of labelling absolutely everything. 

Labelling mad

Don’t touch my food

My thoughts have currently turned to – how can we encourage people to care about nutrition more? I’ve attached links below which describe how detrimental an excess of ‘bad’ food can be on the human body and mentality. How can people not be aware of this? Why are we not taught this at school? And how can we teach people to eat healthily within their means? I believe it can be possible but, on £15 a week, not likely.

Why I gave up sugar

Can food make you angry?

If we could encourage a better sense of community then maybe neighbours could share bulk buying items and not feel trapped in their little boxes of the single lifestyle. But this seems almost utopian, even though in reality it’s a tiny gesture. I could in fact do this with my current neighbours, even when not on a £15 budget, and we’d both make great savings. You could swop recipes, ideas and tips. I started thinking back to WWII and the rations and thought of how people coped. The idea of growing something in my tenement seems bizarre but I’m sure communities banded together to have communal vegetable patches back when rationing hit them. Even space to have a tomato grow bag would see my weekly bill drop dramatically (in the summer). I’ll be looking more into this and whether nutrition was a priority. 

I’ve isolated myself somewhat with this diet. It’s effecting my personal relationships and it’s turning me into more of a self centered egotist than I already am. All I talk about is this diet, I say talk it’s more preaching and I’m sick of the sound of my own voice sometimes but there’s just something about it that’s compelling. Then I’m left with the question of what do I do with all my information, all the ideas, the thoughts and feelings. In all honesty probably nothing. Sad story of my life really.

Day 4 – £15 a week


1 bowl of porridge made with a little milk and water
1/2 banana
1 mandarin
1/2 pear
4 prunes
1 egg on toast – who was hungover?


Vegetable soup
Pasta from the other night with added carrot and sweetcorn
6 prunes
1 slice of bread


Bruschetta with goat’s cheese and tomatoes
Roasted potatoes, parsnips and swede

I was delirious with hunger again when I arrived home hence the reason dinner was so big. A huge carb fest with very little protein or any semblance of being balanced but it tasted good.

A friend of a friend who I really like came into rehearsals today went to lunch with my team. I felt so left out that I think I regressed to the aged of 5 with a pouty, titty lip and all. It felt that when they came back they’d been discussing ideas about our piece and making social arrangements which I only learnt of when they were discussing them in more detail. Where’s my mum so I can run and say ‘I can’t play with them’ but this time it’s not a case of they won’t let me. I can’t afford to.

I work during my lunch break because I eat to function and I take no joy what so ever in what I eat. It’s sad.

I’m finding it difficult to cope with work also – I’m unbelievably busy right now and information passes to and from me at an alarming speed. The diet isn’t to blame for me not coping but it’s not helping. I don’t feel fuelled enough to burn the midnight oil and rise at the crack of dawn to finish work (well stop blogging and get working I hear you cry!). If I can eat my way well through a day I can cope with anything, maybe not physically but mentally.

Usually I look forward to my meal breaks in a day because I know I’m going to enjoy the food and also the company. I miss my breakfasts with Marcus and my lunches with the cast. So I sit alone, looking up crap, writing a blog because I don’t take the time to just eat and enjoy. Granted this cannot always happen but of late I’ve been making a concentrated effort to stop and take a breath when a break comes along. I’m more motivated to work solidly and effectively in shorter sharper bursts if I’m fuelled and I’ve got something to look forward to.  To enjoy food, chat and discuss things other than work are bliss.

If anything this experiment will encourage me to enjoy food more and not take it for granted. I will savour every mouthful of food that I have chosen to cook and create and I will be thankful. It’s also made me seek out Glasgow food banks and I’m currently looking at how I can donate my time and food to these charities and help. I want to get a better understanding of how they work and what they mean to the people who use them.

Day 3 – £15 a week (Part II)

You may not be surprised to hear that I did go out to my weekly pub quiz last night and I was not sober by the end of it. If I am being honest – which let’s face it, what’s the point of this blog if I’m not – I was hoping people would buy me a drink. Although I’ve sat in pubs before and drank only water it was a choice because I didn’t want to drink not because I couldn’t financially.

I was bought 4 or 5 drinks in total and was extremely grateful for each one and generously thanked my beverage benefactor. I did not promise my benefactors to pay them back in another week when I wasn’t on this diet, or promise them anything in return. This was a conscious decision because I wouldn’t be able to pay them back or offer them anything if I was receiving benefits. In time to come I will pay these extremely generous people back the £3.30 a bottle I have consumed but it might not be in monetary value as such. I could return the favour to them in other ways, offering to do a job for them, babysitting, anything that isn’t a direct reimbursement and has some sentimental meaning to it. This is purely for me, in times to come I will have my bank card and I will buy my round in turn and pay them back in that sense but I really felt loved last night and surrounding by good people who weren’t looking for reimbursement and I would like to express that in another way.

My food intake looked a little something like this yesterday:


1 bowl of porridge made with a little milk and water
1/2 banana
1 mandarin
4 prunes


Vegetable soup from the evening before
Half a portion of rice with beetroot, sweet corn, carrot and a little goat’s cheese.
1 mandarin
2 slices of bread
5 prunes


Pasta with 5 plum tomatoes, garlic, 1 mushroom and goat’s cheese rinds (This was tasty)

Post beer:

The other half of my rice salad and a slice of bread

In my drunken ramblings last night my loose tongue revealed a few things. I’ve had a really strong urge to smoke of late. Luckily I don’t carry anything on me but I know I used to smoke to surpress my appetite (not that it ever really worked I was still plump) and to relieve boredom. I’ve been making a very strong effort not to explore this. But I can understand why you’d want to fill your time with extra curricular activities if food isn’t one of them.

I’ve also started to consider that maybe my experiment needs to continue for another week so I can have a better understanding of what it’s like to plan when you know you’ve already got some food in reserve. I’m also keen to find out if my body will crave what I’ve not given it this week. If anyone has any useful suggestions on how I could develop this little experiment to discover more I would be very interested to hear form you.