Steve Sharp, marketing director of Marks & Spencer says that “Nostalgia always becomes more important when times are tough,” Cath Kidston’s ‘teapots and oilcloths, which embrace the image of the 1950s housewife, celebrating baking, afternoon tea and knitting, have become de rigeur for a generation of women whose busy working and home lives have led them to idealize rather than practice domesticity’; a way to nest, without actually nesting. Programs like the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off and The Great British Sewing Bee, have taken the nation by storm reflecting a zeitgeist among women who want to learn these two skills once more.
Since this Angela McRobbie has stated that there is a re-traditionalisation of women, where old traditions such as baking and sewing are popular rather this time it is something that has not been forced upon women as a tradition but accepted as a pleasure. Dr Rachel Moseley describes the participants within the BBC’s shows as ‘conservative, post-feminist nostalgia for a pre-feminist past’ .
I have accepted this new reflexivity which reflects my position and this is strongly represented in my work. I have also mixed the art of baking with fashion which is a personal expression, Linda Scott’s Fresh Lipstick shows that this is a part of the second wave of feminism; which enforces that fashion is not an indication of submission and we should not be prevented from being free by the reduction of fashion to sexually objectifying others . These two messages do contradict each other but by merging them shows that women can still be strong and driven in whatever they choose to do. It is the tension inherent in these two contradictory states that my work addresses.
The genus of which was research around Pro-Ana communities and the images that they use for inspiration, or in their terms ‘Thinspiration’. This led me to my secondary research of Debra Ferreday’s Unspeakable Bodies research paper , within it she claims that by Pro-Ana’s suggesting their bodies are the same as the models, they imply that the Pro-Ana community are able to reach out and claim the models as members.
At this point I trialled a thought experiment: I would develop three ‘characters’ – a young female around the age of 10, an older teenage female and a young male. These three “avatars” would then populate Pro-Ana environments online, seeking and taking advice, with visible results manifesting on the avatar’s appearance (each avatar being a composite of several people). I came across fashion illustrations whilst working this through and trying to understand how I could respond creatively to these issues as a maker which has dominated the evolution of the project.
To enable me to resolve the tensions that I found in the traditional approach to researching a highly emotive and contentious issue; by working this project through as a maker I have come to understand that Pro-Ana’s project themselves onto models the same way that illustrators project themselves onto their work. I now see that fashion illustrators creatively purge themselves into their work the same way that Pro-Ana’s harm themselves to show dedication to their cause – all in the name of fashion.
 Queen of florals Cath Kidston bucks the recession to profit from love of nostalgia | Life and style | The Guardian . 2009. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/aug/09/cath-kidston-recession-floral-empire.
 THE GREAT BRITISH SEWING BEE: WATCHING SEWING ON TELEVISION by Rachel Moseley. 2013 [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cstonline.tv/great-british-sewing.
 Ferreday, D, 2003. Erasure, embodiment and the pro-ana community. Unspeakable bodies, 6(3): 277–295, 3-17.).
 McRobbie, A, 1991. Feminism and Youth Culture
 Scott, L, 2006. Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism. 1st ed: Palgrave Macmillan