Pleasure Practices with Sami Schalk: Make it cute!

The value of embracing adorable things.
Weird cute kawaii spring prairie scene featuring a smiling orange sun, a waffle rainbow, and a peanut butter bee. A cute inari sushi wearing a bear hat is screaming “CA-YOOOOT!” with love at the sun.
Illustration by M.Rose Sweetnam. Image description: Weird cute kawaii spring prairie scene featuring a smiling orange sun, a waffle rainbow, and a peanut butter bee. A cute inari sushi wearing a bear hat is screaming “CA-YOOOOT!” with love at the sun.

The value of embracing adorable things.

This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.

March is upon us and the hope of spring weather in my heart clashes with the reality of second winter in Wisconsin. But all is not lost. Pleasure sustains me through this latest bit of March snow. This month I’m back to both food and aesthetics as a pleasure practice, and specifically making it cute! Or as they would call it in Japan, kawaii! Kawaii is a culture of cuteness—think Hello Kitty—and making things extra adorable adds that intentional aesthetic pleasure that feels like loving on myself. Similarly to when I talked about putting glitter on it in the June 2021 edition of Pleasure Practices, feel free to replace “cute” here with the aesthetic that most speaks to you, be it dark goth vibes or Barbie pink or whatever it is that makes you smile when you look at it.

The point of making it cute as a pleasure practice, as always, is to find intentional ways to tap into pleasure in your daily life in ways that remind you that pleasure is a measure of freedom, a vital expression of aliveness, that we must carefully protect and foster in a world that encourages us to work so hard to even be able to afford food and housing. Pleasure does not have to cost us a lot while still doing a lot for our well-being. For me, pleasure practices continue to be a way where I remind myself that I do not belong to the ableist capitalist white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy. No one gets to determine what is good and right for me, but me. It’s a reminder that I do not earn the right to have pleasure, rather pleasure is a regular and integral part of my living. And right now, as my brain aches for spring weather and sunshine, taking a little extra time to make my meals cute in some way just makes me feel good, like I am taking care of myself and prioritizing my pleasure, even if only in small, temporary ways.

So this month, make an effort to bring some cuteness (or insert your other preferred aesthetic) into your food. Take the time to make something you want to look at, that makes you smile before you eat it. Let your food be a multi-sensory experience that begins with your eyes. For me, making it cute in the kitchen can look like:

  • Cutting sandwiches into cute shapes
  • Buying the dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets instead of the adult ones
  • Make pancakes with faces or pancakes in cute shapes
  • Arranging food into a face on the plate
  • Using kids’ plates that are shaped like animals or have cute pictures on them
  • Using a mini waffle maker that makes waffles in shapes
  • Adding a little food color, sprinkles, or edible glitter to whatever you’re eating
  • Making (or just eating) adorably tiny things
  • Using cute or colorful utensils or cups

Don’t forget to share your cute (or otherwise aesthetically delightful) food creations with me on social media and as always, it tastes better when you say “I’m a badass bitch” before you eat it. Spring is coming friends, just keep holding on!

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