More Frowning, Please!

This post was triggered by Mary Harrington’s post, Cake Shaming. Harrington puts forth a point that had not occurred to me, as she often does. She discusses the problem of people getting fat because other people bring cake to the office. Actually she discusses the debate that rages over whose fault it is that people are getting fat.

Meanwhile, in the actual news, there’s been much harrumphing about a report in yesterday’s Times that Oxford health professor and head of the Food Standards Agency Susan Jebb said ‘office cake culture’ should be as frowned upon as causing others to inhale your cigarette smoke.

Evidently those who support personal choice and responsibility were angry at Jebb for saying that cake culture should be frowned upon and feel that this is limiting the rights of the cake bringer. Is it the cake-bringer’s fault that you have no self control and choose to eat the cake? Or is it the eater’s fault? Accordingly, should there be rules against bringing cake to the office to tempt people? And, if we are on the side of freedom and personal responsibility, should we ‘shame’ the person who brought the cake, or the person who at the cake? How about alcohol? I think there should be a rule that it is WRONG to give alcohol as a gift, especially at work. Many people are fighting the demon of alcoholism and don’t need to be tempted! Stop it.

Harrington says the first problem in this argument is that in our well-intentioned attempt to make people take more responsibility for their own actions, we have tried to completely eliminate the reality that we are influenced by our environment, which includes cake being located in easy access in the break room. In other words, we are tempting people unnecessarily then shaming them for not being more responsible. In our laissez-faire culture, we no longer think about the consequences of our words and actions on others.

So what does my title mean? She’s right. Shame or public frowning upon behavior that has a strong chance of influencing others should be brought back. We now live in a culture, like she said, where the only behavior that you can “shame” is intolerance of bad behavior. Let’s stop going along with that crowd. Instead, frown at bad behavior! You took your child to a drag show at the library or your church held a drag show? I will not clap for you, I will frown! You argue for the right for doctors to mutilate children? I will not smile, I will frown! You show up to work high or drunk or an hour late? I will not laugh and look the other way, I will frown! Frowning might not change their behavior, but at least you won’t be guilt of complicity.

Restricting what is brought into the break room is not fascism, it’s being thoughtful of the battles that others are fighting.

Get it? We need to stop agreeing with immature, immoral, and irrational or even insane behavior and beliefs! Is this being judgmental? No. It’s refusing to support things we know are wrong. But that would mean admitting that there is something called right and wrong, which is the root of the problem. We won’t be the most popular people at the party, but maybe we can turn the tide before the whole world goes to hell in a handbasket. Is eating cake going to send us to hell? No, but not caring about the effects of our actions and words on others will.

So let’s start frowning more and, please, stop thoughtlessly tempting people with cake, alcohol, drugs, sex, and other addictions that they might be trying very hard to conquer!

As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 1 Timothy 5:20

chocolate cake
Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on


  1. Ahh, cake in the break room, that’s an interesting debate! Church is another place where people often like to bring treats for fellowship, most of those treats being cookies and cakes and such.

    I think we also have to blame the culture, the government, the economy, the food industry. Cake, cookies, bread, sugar are cheap, eggs and other forms of protein cost a lot more. It’s also easy to preserve cake, it doesn’t require refrigeration, so it travels easily.

    I really liked this line, “In our laissez-faire culture, we no longer think about the consequences of our words and actions on others.” Amen to that.

  2. Dr, Daniel Amen, in his TED talk about his book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” noted that in his church, they had donuts and coffee in the lobby before a sermon on self-control. One of his themes is healthy eating and he mused (only half tongue-in-cheek), “The church is trying to kill me!” 🥴
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

  3. I wish I could understand why cake and similar food is tempting to people in the first place because I can’t get past how gross sugary foods are. At the same time, there was a moment in our history when we ate garbage American food and weren’t fat. It was all portion size. So if people think cake is wonderful instead of gross, they should take it cut into small pieces for their coworkers.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s