An Ode to Aubergine: Two Vibrant Veggie Dishes

Published October 30, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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Food cravings. If you’re like me, this devilish food impulse will be something you’re all too familiar with. Food cravings aren’t just reserved for pregnant women with a hormonal soft spot for pickles, but is something we all go through… repeatedly…on a very regular basis. (Yes, even people like healthy food guru and yoga fanatic Gwyneth Paltrow!)

These past couple of years, I have had various food craving episodes. There was that one month last year in which I ate a ridiculous amount of chocolate (even ridiculous for a Belgian citizen, and that says a lot). Last month I had my Indian food obsession and decided to end every meal with an extra bowl of dal. And yes, I even went through a cheese phase, which led to my kitchen smelling of old people’s feet 24/7.

But this week, I am craving something entirely different. And for once, it falls within the “healthy” category. So forget about cheesy crust pizza, dark chocolate and matured Roquefort cheese, this week everything is all about the humble aubergine. (Or as you Americans like to call it: the “eggplant”)

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Apologies, that word cracks me up every single time.

I know. You’re probably all thinking: Why would one ever become obsessed with aubergines? Sure, they can be pretty good, but do you really want to eat them day in and day out?

Well, dear readers, I do.

And mark my words, after you’ve made these two recipes, I’m sure you’ll be on an aubergine binge fest too.

Exotic Aubergine “cheesecake”

It’s not an omelet. It’s not a soufflé, and no, it’s also not a quiche. It’s a little bit of all these three things and more. It is an easy peasy, hearty cheesecake that mixes soothing cream cheese with salty feta and combines aromatic spices with theflavour-absorbing texture of the aubergine.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 150gr cream cheese
  • 80gr feta cheese
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • Fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Red chili, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp turmeric

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the aubergine for 5 minutes together with all the spices until everything starts to smell incredibly fragrant.
  2. Transfer the aubergine to an oven-proof dish, sprinkle over the chili pepper and half of the coriander.
  3. Mix together the eggs and cream cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pour the batter of the aubergine mix and crumble the feta cheese over the top.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the egg mixture has set, but is still slightly wobbly in the middle. To finish, sprinkle on some extra coriander.

Smothered Sweet and Salty Aubergine with flowering garlic chives and smoked tofu

This dish may not look very dashing, but trust me, this dish is the edible equivalent of an English gentleman. The aubergine is stewed in a combination of sweet and salty flavours and in less than 15 minutes the entire mix turns into an Asian food fiesta. The intensity of the smothered aubergine is balanced with some incredibly pungent flowering garlic chives, coriander and is served with some smoky tofu. Yum!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, cut in fine chunks
  • Bunch of flowering garlic chives, finely chopped (flowers included)
  • Lots of fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey (or a bit more if necessary)
  • ¼ tsp star anise
  • ¼ tsp Chinese five spice
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 100gr smoked tofu

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and add the aubergine. Fry for a couple of minutes and season with salt and pepper. Add the miso paste, honey, soy sauce and spices and let everything simmer with a good splash of water until you almost get an aubergine “mash”. Stir in the sesame oil and the chopped flowering garlic chives (you’d be amazed how garlicy this type of chives tastes!) and coriander.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the smoky tofu in a separate pan and serve everything together and sprinkle on some extra chives and coriander.

10 reasons why you need to go and see Miss Julie

Published October 26, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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Sometimes, on very rare occasions, I do absolutely love living in Belgium.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

When another quality chocolate shop opens just a couple of blocks away from my apartment.

When there is a public holiday and I don’t have to go to work.

When it’s Film Fest Ghent.

Now, let me talk to you about that last one. Film Fest Ghent is my hometown’s very own film festival. It might not be as famous as the one in Berlin, and it is definitely not as glamorous as the one in Cannes, but it does have quite a lot of good films to offer.

And one of those films was “Miss Julie” with none other than Irish eye-candy Colin Farrell and my personal style icon Jessica Chastain. This movie, at first glance, may seem like your everyday Jane Austen-inspired tear jerker, but let me tell you: it is nothing of the sort. If I were to describe it, I would rather say it is a mash-up of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Silver Lining’s Playbook, covered in some Pride & Prejudice cling film.

This film is abso-freakingly bonkers!

Needless to say, I loved it. And this is why:

  • Jessica Chastain

Like I said, I adore her. Not only does she demonstrate that you can be a successful Hollywood actress and not be blonde, but more importantly: the woman can act. Really act. Like, lump-in-throat act.

Her performance as Miss Julie is nothing short of stunning. She plays the ultimate spoiled brat, the drama Queen, and her character’s love for drama makes my own theatrical tantrums seem pretty minute, but Jessica is able to give all this intense drama a very human and believable edge. With a part like hers, it is always dangerous to start over-acting, but Miss Chastain knows what she’s doing. And man, it is an absolute joy to watch her.

  • Colin Farrell

The fact that the guy is easy on the eyes is something we have known for a very long time (after all ,we are not blind), but the fact that the guy can act (I mean really act) still surprises me from time to time. He is absolutely brilliant in his role as tormented soul and lover and his Irish accent is just to die for.

  • It’s drama!

You know me. I like a bit of theatre, and this film is drama from beginning till end.

  • These people are f***ing insane!

Both Miss Julie and Jean are bonkers. Schizophrenia, various compulsive disorders, panic attacks, delusional ramblings, you name it.

These people are so crazy, it kinda made me feel good about myself in a weird, slightly superficial way. Because yes,  I may be weird and bizarre from time to time, but at least I don’t go chopping off canaries’ heads. Which leads me to the next point:

  • (spoiler alert!) There is a dead canary!

And it is hilarious! Not because I like to see dead animals, of course not (that would be horrible!), but because it looked so incredibly fake it more resembled a Wallace & Gromit clay puppet than an actual bird.

  • The melancholic “I think I’m about to cry” -musical score

Bring on those tissues!

  • The dialogues!

The chemistry between Farrell and Chastain is undeniable and there are some pretty fab dialogues to prove it. The language-freak in me was on a two-hour high.

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  • The monologues!

Applause for Miss Chastain, because that one monologue were Miss Julie absolutely lost it (I mean, even more than her already pretty fucked up usual self) and went totally crazy, was Oscar-worthy. Yes, Oscar-worthy!

  • There is wine!

The movie made me thirsty. That says enough, right?

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  • And last but not least: there’s a cute dog!

Who doesn’t like a cute dog?

Get Out Of My Hair: What Beyoncé’s New Bangs Taught Me About Society

Published October 21, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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I’ve got a question for you, dear readers. What was last week’s most talked about topic? You’re probably thinking  “Ebola” or maybe “ISIS attack on Kobani”.

It does seem rather logical to pick one of these topics, doesn’t it?

Well, dear readers, you are wrong. The most talked about topic was Beyoncé’s new haircut.

And more precisely, the fact that it may be – in some people’s opinion- the worst haircut choice she has ever made.

Beyoncé’s new bangs led to a complete meltdown of the internet and  –more worryingly- the often ruthless comments that soon followed on Twitter went viral and the many insults (or as the Tweeples would call it: “funny remarks”) spread like wildfire. It was the biggest news event of the week, which is ironic since there are probably more troublesome things to worry about, definitely in a context of things going “viral” and “spreading like wildfire”. (Yes, I’m referring to the dramatic toll Ebola has already taken on Western Africa, but hey, you Tweeples were probably too busy tweeting about hair to be concerned about something like that.)

However, apart from the very annoying fact that something as random as Beyoncé’s new haircut was more important than a deadly epidemic, the news about Beyoncé’s bangs also worried me because it showcased how society refuses to let people change.

From the moment someone decides to change their looks, he or she (but in this case –feminist alert!- it’s almost always she) is greeted by other people’s often unwanted opinions. Beyoncé got bangs. So what? If Beyoncé wants to get a new haircut, she can f***ing get a new haircut. No need to go all crazy about it. Beyoncé demonstrated a great sense of fashion. Beyoncé showed balls. Beyoncé was brave. Something many of the people who were dissing her are too regressive and bigoted to ever be.

As you may have guessed from the tone of this post, this is a very personal topic to me. I still remember all the comments –before and after- I decided to cut off all my long hair and go for a pixie cut. I still remember all the remarks when I dyed my hair red.

Seriously. What is their problem? If I want to dye my hair, I will dye my hair. I don’t need your opinion. It is my hair. Mine. Not yours. So stay the hell out of it.

So after seeing Beyoncé being attacked all over the internet last week, I could only think of one thing: Thank God I’m not famous. If even I get judged by people sometimes when I decide to dye my hair in a colour that is not to their liking, I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like if I were famous. Every time I would get a new haircut (which is rather often in my case), the press and the public would be on me like a naked Miley Cyrus on her wrecking ball!

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It is just a sad, sad thing. And unfortunately, Beyoncé wasn’t the first celebrity to get the full “Twitter treatment”. Remember when Miley Cyrus cut her hair? Or when Anne Hathaway dyed hers blonde? Yes, even when Michelle Obama got bangs one week before the inauguration of her husband, there was so much buzz going on all over the internet about her hair and whether or not it suited her, that for a moment her hairdo threatened to outshine the President’s inauguration. So she swiftly tried to tone down the comments by stating that her new bangs might be one of the first signs of her midlife crisis. Has it really come to that? That we have to justify our own hair  choices by blaming it on hormonal imbalances? Seriously, people??? Seriously?

Women, famous or not, constantly get judged by others based on how they look or how they dress. We have become so aware of all the scrutiny that many of us have become afraid to ever change the way they look, even if they really want to. We are afraid to take risks. Not because of how it may turn out, but because of how people will react to you changing. What will they think of me? Will they like the new me?

People who do dare to take the leap and change the way they look, whether that is by cutting or dying their hair or by embracing their own unique sense of style, are often frowned upon. Twitter may seem like a very modern and progressive thing, but when it comes to the people using it, it just goes to show how traditional and change-averse the medium really is.

We should be able to wear whatever we want. We should be able to do with our hair whatever the fuck we want. Your hair, your choice. No matter what all the Tweeples say. Remember: if Beyoncé is brave enough to do it. So are you .

Baking With Booze: Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes with a Built-In Cherry Liqueur Shot Glass!

Published October 19, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

I don’t mean to wallow in self-glorification – but damn! – sometimes I really do have the most ludicrously marvelous baking ideas!

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Because, yesssss, you’ve read it correctly: this is a chocolate and cherry cupcake… with a built-in (!!!) cherry liqueur shot glass.

I’ll give you a couple of seconds to process this incredibly alluring concept…

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Surely, I deserve some kind of statue for this?

Anyway, I think Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would have been really thrilled with this cupcake, If they had ever been given the chance (nay, the privilege!) to taste it.

Seriously. This is some good sh**

So without further ado, this is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 75gr plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40gr dark chocolate
  • 60gr butter
  • Jar of cherries: 100gr of cherries (drained and chopped up) + 100ml of the syrup
  • 75gr cane sugar
  • Cherry liqueur (I used fancy Portuguese cherry liqueur, but any kind will do)
  • Chocolate shot glasses (can be found in specialized baking shops or you can be brave and attempt to make your own)
  • Chocolate spread (or make chocolate ganache)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Put the butter, dark chocolate and cherry syrup in a pan and let it melt.
  3. Take of the heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the egg and finally stir in the chopped up cherries. Add the mixture to the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir well until everything is incorporated.
  4. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Let them cool completely before starting on your built-in shot glasses.
  6. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, hollow out each center with a sharp knife to create a hole for the chocolate shot glasses to sit in.
  7. Pour a shot of cherry liqueur in the center of the cupcake. This will give the cupcakes a boozy flavour and make them extra moist.
  8. Now put the shot glass in the cupcake.
  9. Frost the cupcakes with chocolate spread or ganache.
  10. Pour a shot of liqueur in the glass. Eat and drink the shot glass first, before starting on your cupcake!
  11. Cheers!

Getting Creative in the Kitchen: Fabulous Fall Salads

Published October 15, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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These past few weeks I’ve been very creative in the kitchen and I have two men to thank for that. The first one is world famous and a master of multicultural food blends, whereas the other is one of Belgium’s up-and-coming chefs with a Michelin star under his belt. I’m talking about Yotam Ottolenghi and Michaël Vrijmoed. I’m sure all foodies out there will have heard from the former (no matter which country you live in), so I will start with the latter, for I’m guessing you will probably have never heard of him (unless you’re either Belgian –like me- or a total wacko foodie – like me.)

Vrijmoed is a young Belgian chef (who also does TV cooking shows once and a while), who opened his own first restaurant “Vrijmoed” a couple of years ago, which was awarded a Michelin star last year. I had been yearning to go there for quite some time, because his restaurant also offers an entire vegetarian menu, which is incredibly rare among gastronomic restaurants. My wish finally came true last weekend when my family was looking for a special restaurant to celebrate my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary at.

Needless to say, I was in seventh heaven. Vrijmoed truly is a genius when it comes to pairing vegetables, spices and textures. I even daresay that the five course “pure vegetables” menu was the best food I have EVER tasted in my ENTIRE life. And coming from me, that means a lot! Not just because I’ve eaten my way through plenty of delicious meals in my life and therefore tend to shy away from making pompous statements like that, but also because I used to think that Michelin Star restaurants were the prime example of style over substance. Lots of money, but tiny portions.

Well, I take that all back. Vrijmoed was worth every damn penny! And after a five-course meal with plenty of booze you definitely don’t feel the need to go to the chippy afterwards.

So if you ever find yourself in  Ghent and are looking for a really really really nice place to eat –and you’ve got some money you want to spend- this is the place to be!

Inspired by all the bold flavour pairings, I conjured up this marvelous salad:

Marinated Beetroot with Yellow Plum, Feta, Peppery Cress and COFFEE AND COCOA CARAMELIZED NUTS

There is a reason why I went all “CAPs Lock” crazy on the nuts. The sweetness of the caramel works brilliantly with the bitterness of the coffee and cocoa and trust me when I say that these nuts are a true sensation in combination with the earthy sweetness of the beetroot, the sour-sweet plum, the tangy sharp cheese and the peppery cress.

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Ingredients:

For the nuts:

  • Handful of nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp instant espresso coffee powder
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder

For the beetroot:

  • 2 small to medium beetroots, peeled cut into slices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sumac
  • Lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • Cress
  • 2 yellow plums, stone removed and cut into chunks
  • 50gr feta cheese

Method:

  1. Blanch the beetroot slices for a couple of minutes. Drain and put the slices into a large bowl with some salt and pepper, sumac, olive oil, honey and a good squeeze of lime juice. Set aside for half an hour and let it marinade.
  2. Make the caramelized nuts. Roast the nuts in a small pan. Add the honey, cocoa and coffee and let is fry for a minutes. Add a splash of water to make sure the nuts don’t burn. Let the nuts get all sticky and crunchy.
  3. Dress the beetroot on a plate together with the plum, cress and feta cheese. Finally sprinkle over the delish nuts and serve.

Now let’s move on to Ottolenghi. He’s the master of Middle Eastern cuisine who taught me all about za’atar, tahini and hummus and who has been teaching the world, book by book and recipe by recipe, that vegetarian food is the future. His new cookbook “Plenty More” is the epitome of yumminess and demonstrates that cooking without meat and fish is anything but boring. This book has become my culinary Bible. It has given me so much inspiration these past few weeks  that I’m in a constant state of utter foodie brain activity.

The following recipe is based on one of his recipes:

Caramelized Figs with Pink Grapefruit, Feta, Pink Pepper and Rocket Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 3 figs, halved
  • 1 pink grapefruits, peeled and cut into slices
  • Rocket leaves
  • 80gr feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ tsp pink pepper corns
  • ¼ tsp star anise
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Method:

  1. Heat the sugar in a large pan and let it caramelize. Add the figs, cut-side down, and let them fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Add a splash of water to make sure the caramel doesn’t burn. Add the pink pepper and star anise. When the figs are starting to get tender, turn off the heat and add the slices of grapefruit. Be careful not to overcook the figs, they should be soft, not mushy and the grapefruit should still hold its shape and be lukewarm.
  2. Put the rocket leaves on a plate. Add the figs and grapefruit and sprinkle on the feta cheese and some extra pink pepper corns.

The Bold & the Butternut

Published October 9, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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The weather is really awful this week. It’s raining cats and dogs, the wind is blowing all those wonderfully golden brown leaves of the trees and it is all making me bloody depressed.

Seriously. Why do I have to live in Belgium and not live in a tiny hut on some deserted island in the Pacific? The latter sounds much more appealing right now. Yes, a sunny beach on a deserted island my not offer WIFI, but who needs WIFI when you can spend your days tanning on the beach and drinking out of a coconut?

Anyway, needless to say that I could use some comfort food. And what could possibly be more comforting than the sweet flavour of the butternut? Butternuts and pumpkins of any kind are probably one of the only things that prevent me from packing my bags and embracing my inner Robinson Crusoe. (No butternuts on a deserted islands, obvs.)

And although many people still ignorantly think that recipes with butternut do not sound very bold, or may not look very beautiful, it is actually quite the opposite. Because, dear fellow Belgians, you can do so much more with a butternut than just turn it into soup!

In fact, the humble butternut is as versatile as Daniel Radcliffe’s latest film choices! (and that says a lot, trust me)

With one large butternut, I created 3(!) amazing one-person dishes just for me. They may not all look beautiful, but trust me: they are always bold in flavour!

Middle Eastern Saffron-Scented Butternut with Harissa Yoghurt and a Mint and Dill Salsa

Butternut will have never tasted this good: the sweetness of the saffron and the sultanas together with the zing and freshness of the salsa and yoghurt is a match made in heaven.

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Ingredients:

For the butternut:

  • 1/3 butternut, cut into large chunks
  • Handful of sultanas
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp honey

For the harissa yoghurt:

  • 100gr Greek yoghurt
  • ½ tsp harissa paste

For the Mint and Dill Salsa:

  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lime

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Add the butternut chunks and let it fry for a couple of minutes. Add the spices, sultanas and honey. Add a splash of water to make sure it doesn’t burn. Let it fry until the butternut is just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the poppy seeds.
  2. Mix the yoghurt with the harissa and a pinch of salt.
  3. Mix all the salsa ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the butternut with dollops of yoghurts and drizzle the salsa over the top.

Stuffed Butternut with a Blue Goat’s Cheese “Soufflé”

Sounds fancy, but it is actually really easy to make. The reason why I call this a “soufflé” is because it contains eggs and cheese and puffs up all so beautifully in the oven, but don’t be alarmed by this French word, it’s just a chic way of saying “fluffy omelet” ;)

You can use plain blue cheese or goat’s cheese for this recipe, but a blue goat’s cheese really is the best of both worlds.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 “bottom” of the butternut, seeds removed but skin still on
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 80gr blue goat’s cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put the butternut bottom in an oven-proof dish and season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the butternut is al dente.
  2. Mix the eggs together with salt and pepper and nutmeg and pour in the butternut. Drop the chunks of cheese into the eggs mixture and put the butternut back into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the skin and flesh of the pumpkin is soft and eggs are cooked through and have puffed up.

Butternut with Nigella & Mustard Seeds and Barbecue Tempeh

It may not look very attractive but the sweet and sour taste of the marinated tempeh (I luvvv tempeh!) works so well with the mellow butternut that is spiced up with some amazing nigella and mustard seeds.

Serve with some even more unappealing (but very yummy) black rice

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Ingredients:

For the butternut:

  • 1/3 butternut, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • Fresh herbs to finish (dill, coriander or mint)

For the tempeh:

  • 100gr tempeh, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds
  • Pinch of Chinese five spice

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the butternut, spices and ginger. Let it fry, stir regularly and season with salt and pepper, until the butternut is tender.
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the tempeh. Fry until golden brown. Pour in the marinade, turn down the heat and let the marinade form a sticky coat around the tempeh.
  3. Serve the butternut with the tempeh and sprinkle some fresh herbs over the top. Serve with rice.

About Feminism, George Clooney and Incompetent Newspapers

Published October 5, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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Imagine you are sitting at the table, enjoying your breakfast with a nice cup of strong coffee and some incredible sourdough bread with marmalade, until you suddenly realize that your very own opinion letter got published in that morning’s newspaper.

Your initial reaction: Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God! I’m in the newspaper!

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Your second reaction once you’ve read through your letter and notice that they have LEFT OUT half of it and just printed some vague resemblance to what originally was one hell of an opinion piece:

*&%?*#£}**$&%%$*** (The profanity that come out of my mouth is not suitable for publication)

Yes, that is what I experienced yesterday. There I was, first over the moon with delight that the paper thought my opinion letter was good enough for print, until I realized that they had cut out the most brilliant *coughs modestly* sentences and paragraphs. Admittedly, it might have been a bit too long and it is not like they started altering or re-writing my own sentences (thank God for that!), but for someone with a degree in Languages, who loves spending hours searching for exactly the right wordplay, expressions and linguistic examples of pure beauty, it is incredibly frustrating when they leave out exactly that.

It felt as if they had cut out my core identity. Sure, the message still remains, but what’s the point of writing an opinion piece if you can’t even add some linguistic frivolity?

So out of utter frustration that said newspaper (out of respect, I will not mention which paper)did not publish all of it, I decided to quickly translate it into English and share it with all y’all. (Because at least you guys appreciate my linguistic pompousness!)

So here it is:

#Feminism is more than just a few hashtags

Feminism seems to be everywhere. Emma Watson talks about it. Sheryl Sandberg writes about it. Beyoncé sings about it. Even Karl Lagerfeld – but you can call him Kaiser Karl  – sends his models onto the runway with feminist banners. Conclusion? Feminism had become a fashion trend. At least, that was the conclusion newspaper X made in one of its editorials yesterday. As much as I would love to disagree with the author, reality forces me to concur with his views. To put it in fashion terms, feminism is like an It-bag: fun for one season, but after a while you just get sick of it, throw it onto a pile of unattractive stuff to be ignored for the rest of its sad closet life.

Because the fashion and showbizz industry are trying so hard to lay claim on the entire concept of feminism, the problem of gender inequality is slowly losing its credibility. Didn’t Lagerfeld once open a Twitter account for his own spoiled cat? And didn’t Beyoncé go on tour as “Mrs. Carter”? If the former believes that even his cat has something interesting to share with the public, and if the latter decided to tour the world with a name that more resembles a submissive suburban housewife from the fifties than a modern-day feminist, their call for more women’s rights sounds rather laughable.

However, gender inequality is anything but a joke. Yes, even in Belgium. Marianne Thyssen (a Belgian female politician) may have been appointed as euro commissioner, the amount of women in top corporate jobs remains alarmingly low. And even if they do manage to break through the glass ceiling, they are still often judged on their appearance, rather than their intellectual capacities. Belgium is definitely not the only country that is lagging behind, every Western country still has quite a long way to go.

The perfect way to illustrate this Western hypocrisy towards women’s rights, is to look at George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin’s wedding from last weekend. The wedding of Hollywood’s most obstinate bachelor was all over the news, but what I found all the more striking was how one-dimensional the media reported about the event. One of the only articles that reported about the wedding from a totally different perspective was the internet website thebusinesswomanmedia.com, which topped their article with the following head: “ Internationally acclaimed barrister Amal Alamuddin marries an actor”

Somehow, that just made me giggle. But what was I giggling at? Why is this head so funny? Isn’t the article just stating the truth? The fact that the article’s head was generally seen as an example of the site’s great sense of humor clearly indicates once again how problematic the issue of gender inequality still is. Every single media outlet most of the time talked about Clooney. Of course, the guy is super famous, so in a way it is only “natural” for the media to spend a lot of time covering a superstar, but why is it also “natural” to describe Alamuddin as a “beautiful humanist”, whilst there are plenty of other character traits about her that are probably more interesting? But no, apparently the only newsworthy thing was the fact that she wore an Oscar de la Renta wedding dress.

I’m to blame as well. Because even I, a self-proclaimed modern feminist, felt a slight hint of jealousy when I saw her fabulous, sun-kissed, reaching-into-the-sky legs. Whereas her fabulous brain should have aroused as much –or even greater- jealousy than her looks. The problem, hence, does not only lie with men, but also with us, women. Because we also find it difficult to step away from the rooted assumptions about the relationship between a man and a woman.

To improve this relationship and to –eventually- reach that dreamed state of gender equality, men as much as women need to concern themselves with this problem. “Gender equality is men’s issue too”, said actress Emma Watson in her speech in front of the United Nations. After her eloquent speech, plenty of male actors supported her campaign by tweeting pictures of themselves holding a piece of paper with the message #HeforShe written on it.  Tom Hiddleston, David Tennant, Eddie Redmayne,… their support definitely gives women’s rights more attention, but I am not naïve and I do realize that much more is needed to really bring about change. Change won’t happen with a couple of hashtags on Twitter. Indeed, Watson’s speech may have gone viral on the internet, but immediately after her speech some wacko hacker also threatened to put some nude pictures of her online.

Needless to say, we’ve still got some work to do. People like Beyoncé and Emma Watson may poke us in the right direction, as long as we don’t realize that feminism is more than a high amount of likes on Facebook, #genderequality will always remain nothing more than a trending topic.

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