When I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, Virginia Slims created and marketed a cigarette specifically for women. Their ad campaign, seen in magazines and larger-than-life billboards, always featured a beautiful woman holding a cigarette, and in big, bold letters was printed “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Its message was pretty clear: the post-Liberation woman was strong and empowered, and equal to her male, Marlboro-smoking counterpart. To prove it, she had her own equally addictive cigarettes, created just for her.
Fast forward to early October, when I posted on facebook a photo of a fall-themed cake I had just done. A few minutes later, Jackie, a long-time family friend, shared a photo of an identical cake (actually, identical might be a stretch) I had made exactly 11 years prior for her wedding. In her post she wrote “You’ve come a long way.”
To this day, whenever I hear that expression, I always think of the Virginia Slims ads. Not the targeted marketing/nicotine dependency/inherently sexist part, but the positive aspects. About how much has changed for women; about how we truly have come a long, hard-earned way. In the 11 years since I made Jackie’s cake, a lot has changed for me both personally and professionally: I got married, lived in California, had children, moved to Connecticut, and opened a business. I’ve grown and learned. I value my time more, and I’m proud of the balance I have between work and life, family and friends, responsibility and frivolity. Owning my own business is empowering and liberating. Being a respected member of the cake community is something I value.
Here are a two cakes I did recently that show how I’ve grown. The first pair is Jackie’s cake from 2002 and the one from earlier this month. I like to think the changes in the two cakes are obvious, but the areas of improvement are the height of the tiers, the sharpness of the edges, and the arrangement of the leaves.
The changes in these two cakes are more subtle, since they were only a year apart, but my edges are sharper and there’s been a lot of growth in my sugar flower work, particularly the ranunculus and the open rose. (2012 photos: Brooke Allison Photo)