Petit four means small oven.
These beautiful petit fours are a small work of art, aren’t they? Just gorgeous. Fondant helps make any confection a work of art.
But, it doesn’t taste so good.
In fact, as much as I like the way petit fours look, I think they taste awful.
And I wonder how many people think these things are delicious just because they’re lovely.
There’s a greater meaning here, and you can see it in what’s happening to the world around us, a world in which cosmetic enhancement is so valued.
How many times have we heard this justification for cosmetic surgery:
“If it makes you feel better about yourself, I think it’s fine.”
What makes me crazy is the idea that our view of ourselves–our self-esteem– is dependent upon how we look and not who we are.
If it takes bigger breasts to make a woman feel better about herself, I despair for the future.
How often do we hear of women enhancing their self-esteem by taking a history course? Learning a language? Or taking woodworking?
Not often. These days, it’s all about how we look and not who we are.
It’s about what’s on the surface, not what’s inside. Kind of like a petit four.
Now, I like a great-looking man with a killer body as much as any woman. But it’s been my experience that men who are overly-attached to how they look sacrifice substance. There’s nothing else there. Not always. But many times.
So it’s not just women.
The irony hasn’t escaped me, either. While the Boomer generation spent its youth fighting for equal rights of all kinds, at this stage in our life we’re consumed with superficialities. We went from having lofty ideals to…
face lifts and breast surgery.
We were going to remake the world. So: how the hell did we come to this?
I bemoan the loss of our ideals: that search for a greater purpose. The devotion to higher principles and a common cause. Activism and involvement in the world around us.
Nothing wrong with liking how things look. But when we focus on form over substance — if that gives us our sense of self-worth — then something’s gone wrong.
So, I may look at a petit four and admire it, but I won’t be taking a bite any time soon.
Here’s a 2012 post on self esteem.
And here’s a bunch of them on cosmetic surgery.