In Depth

Ruby Tandoh: Why so much 'vitriol and misogyny'?

Ex-model says 'sod the haters' in opinion piece for The Guardian

RUBY TANDOH didn't win last night's final of The Great British Bake Off. But the philosophy student and former model didn't go quietly, writing an opinion piece for The Guardian denouncing the "vitriol and misogyny" directed at the female finalists. 

The article, which appeared on the Guardian's website just hours before clothes designer Frances Quinn was declared this year's winner of the top-rating cooking show, marvels at the "nastiness" that a programme about making cakes is capable of generating. Writes Tandoh: "Despite the saccharin sweetness of the Bake Off, an extraordinary amount of bitterness and bile has spewed forth every week from angry commentators, both on social media and in the press".

More insidious, writes Tandoh, is the misogyny directed at the all-female finalists in the later stages of the series. "We (female) finalists are supposedly too meek, too confident, too thin, too domestic, too smiley, too taciturn … If I see one more person used the hackneyed "dough-eyed" pun I will personally go to their house and force-feed them an entire Charlotte Royale."

Tandoh adds that she is tired of defending herself against accusations that she flirted with GBBO judge Paul Hollywood or used tears to progress through the competition. She says she would "rather eat my own foot than attempt to seduce my way to victory".

The 21-year-old wraps up her article by declaring she's had enough of trying to placate her detractors. "If a show as gentle as Bake Off can stir up such a sludge of lazy misogyny in the murky waters of the internet, I hate to imagine the full scale of the problem," she writes. "But it's not something I'm willing to tolerate. Sod the haters. I'm going to have my cupcake and eat it, too."

To be fair, Tandoh appears perfectly able to defend herself against 'haters'. Earlier this week she called Raymond Blanc 'an idiot' after the French chef tweeted that the 21-year-old former model is "too thin to enjoy good food".

Tandoh, who has polarised the cooking show's audience thanks to her self-critical nature and occasionally hostile comments on social media, was the bookies' favourite to win the GBBO final against Quinn and Kimberley Wilson. Indeed Blanc appeared to give the game away when he tweeted: "The great British bake off. Not much skills, female tears , And a winner so thin who makes me doubt of her love for great cooking, baking."

Tandoh hit back, tweeting: "I don't care if you're a patisserie king - don't be an idiot."

Blanc quickly issued an apology, blaming his comments on a poor grasp of English and insisting he did not know the winner of the pre-recorded final.

Here are five of the reasons the press and public love to loathe the philosophy student with the "limpid green eyes".

Ruby got into the final by crying: Tandoh's "weepy performance" on Tuesday night's semi-final show has infuriated many viewers, says the Daily Mail. Tandoh was spared by the judges – Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood – who gave 31-year-old Beca Lyne-Pirkis the boot instead. But was it the tears flowing from Tandoh's "limpid green eyes", that saved the philosophy student from being thrown out along with yesterday's pie crusts?

http://t.co/KMPzRRi0Ci What dolts. I cried no more than anyone else. This is infuriating. Who ARE these people?????

— Ruby Tandoh (@rubytandoh) October 17, 2013

She got into the final because Paul Hollywood fancies her: Hollywood has been forced to deny that he "favours" Tandoh for reasons other than her skills with a whisk. The 47-year-old told The Independent that the claims are "rubbish" and he considers another contestant Kimberley Wilson "far prettier".

Paul Hollywood would never let his beloved ruby leave!! Beca was better than her- 2 of her bakes were shocking!! #GBBO Kimberley to win it.

— Lauren Ruddock (@lozzzknight) October 15, 2013

Ruby fancies Paul Hollywood: His steel-grey hair, piercing blue eyes and encyclopaedic knowledge of pastry variants have made Hollywood the "baking-hot king of the kitchen", says the Daily Telegraph. So, suggestions that Tandoh may have feelings for the judge were bound to upset his many female fans. Tandoh was forced deny that she had a crush on the "silver fox", telling the Daily Mirror she definitely didn't consider him a "sex icon".

Are you watching Bake Off tonight? We are. And we think Paul fancies Ruby. But the feeling's not mutual http://t.co/bNLrP5r0Mw #GBBO

— ELLEUK (@ELLEUK) October 14, 2013 

Ruby's too self-critical – even for the British! Tandoh doth protest too much, says Metro. The public is starting to find her "moany and her self-critical nature" annoying. Tandoh admits she's hard on herself and says she finds it almost impossible to watch her performances on GBBO. Many viewers are starting to feel the same way. "I was a big Ruby supporter to begin with but I'm finding her constant ‘oh I'm so rubbish' moaning a bit irritating now," tweeted one fan of the show.

First "Soggy Bottom" goes to @rubytandoh on #GBBO altho she knew it was coming "I wouldn't serve something that rubbish to anyone" she said

— Great British Chefs (@gbchefs) September 17, 2013 

Ruby called a viewer a "bitter old witch": Tandoh hasn't taken all the criticism on the chin. When a viewer called Messy_Baker described her as "completely useless", Tandoh hit back. "I'm sorry have you tasted anything made on the show? No? Then shut up," she tweeted. When Messy_Baker replied that the 21-year-old couldn't take criticism, Tandoh wrote: "It's not real criticism though, is it? It's the unfounded, unfiltered, lazy ranting of a bitter old witch".

Lots of negative tweets towards @rubytandoh...#getoverit jealousy isn't very becoming. Keep doing what your doing Ruby. Haters gona hate!

— Brendan Lawlor (@Brenlawlor) October 17, 2013

All this hostility has led some to mount a defence of Tandoh. Sarah Ditum, writing in the Guardian, suggests that Tando's self-critcism is to be admired.

"Imagine doing something and caring sufficiently about the outcome that it could move you to tears of self-reproach and frustration if it goes wrong," she says.  "Imagine doing the thing you love most in the world and presenting it to world-class experts for judgment, and them finding it wanting – and knowing yourself that it wasn't good enough. ... Show me a skilled baker who isn't a perfectionist, and I will show you my lumpy scones."

The final of the fourth series of The Great British Bake Off screens on BBC 2 on Tuesday. 

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