Sally Ann Voak, slimming queen of the UK (apparently) recently wrote an article in the Daily Hell about the growing obesity crisis.
The article is illustrated by this photograph. We are supposed, I think, to be shocked and appalled not just at how OMG! Super! Fat! this woman is, but also because she has the shameless temerity to flaunt her disgustingness in that swimsuit. I mean, does this woman have no sense of decency? Does she not realise how unhealthy and revolting her body is? Has nobody told her that she must hide in a hole until she has starved off at least 6 stone? Hey, and that tide mark doesn’t fool anyone. We know fat people don’t take exercise. You just been standing in the water pretending, right? Yeah, we know.
God love ’em, what gets me is just how completely clueless these Daily Hell idiots are. You can’t see a lot of this woman – her back is all – but nevertheless I for one think this picture is totally lovely. She looks like she’s probably having a good time. There’s sunshine, seaside, bright colours, and a sense of cheerfulness about the whole thing. Isn’t it FABULOUS that this woman is not hiding her body away in the cupboard of shame? And who doesn’t want a swimcap like that, eh?
Sally Ann Voak says (about one of her “favourite slimmers”, who she decided to call up while she was in the area, and go say hello):
Eight years ago, Caroline won a national slimming award for a truly remarkable transformation. Through sheer determination and unhappiness, she lost 111/2st, turning from a slovenly fat woman to a lithe and attractive blonde… We stayed in touch and through her frequent chatty e-mails I learned that she had found a managerial job thanks to her new confidence and smart business suits. Then two years of silence until my spur-of-the-minute phone call. I told her I was nearby and she immediately invited me to pop into her Cheltenham home.
“I’ve changed a bit,” she said brightly and as I drove down the leafy, tree-lined road to her house, I reflected warmly on the positive changes that Caroline’s new body and confidence had no doubt brought her. Caroline opened the door – and for a few horrible seconds I thought I had come to the wrong house… She looked truly awful, dressed in mansized tracksuit bottoms (which I am sure belonged to her boyfriend) and a great big floppy jumper which failed to conceal her sagging breasts and stomach. I must have looked shocked, because she smiled and said: “I’ve put on a little bit of weight.” She honestly didn’t realise just how big she had become – I could tell at a glance that she was around 7st heavier than when we had last met.
As we chatted over tea, she told me that she had found a new partner who ‘doesn’t mind the way I look’. She offered me a plate loaded with biscuits and it was clear that the old habits – of snacking and eating the wrong things – had crept back. It was good to spend time with this tremendously warm and friendly girl, but as I waved goodbye it was with a sinking feeling. At 34, Caroline had become yet another of my failures.
Let’s get this straight. Caroline is chatty, she is bright, she is warm and friendly. She has a new partner who is happy with her appearance. She has a good job. She is, in fact, for what it’s worth, still about 4.5 stone lighter than she was at the start of her slimming adventure. So where is the problem? Where is the failure? She is no longer starving herself? She offers biscuits when an old friend pops round for some tea? She has regained some weight (surprise!) and doesn’t seem to be obsessing about it or to know exactly how much she has regained? She is wearing scruffy clothes?
Oh, but she can’t be happy, can she? How can she be? I have never met a happy fat person. There is no such thing – nobody likes looking in the mirror and seeing a fat body. It is impossible to carry that much weight – with all the limitations and the health issues which arise – and be truly happy with yourself. Of course, if you are somebody like Dawn French – who is beautiful, talented, intelligent and witty – then you can cope more easily with being overweight. But you still aren’t happy, and I don’t believe that she is.
So you can be “beautiful”, but still dislike what you see in the mirror because what you see is fat? That makes no sense. Describing French as beautiful is a lie – not because she isn’t, but because Voaks in fact thinks that she isn’t. She does not believe that a fat woman can ever be beautiful. She just doesn’t want to upset Teh Famous Fat Woman. It is impossible, according to Voaks, to be happy with yourself – even if you are “beautiful”, intelligent, talented, successful, warm, friendly, cheerful and bright – if you are fat.
And that line about “all the limitations and health issues” – hello? Fat ≠ Limited. Fat ≠ Unhealthy. That’s just a sop to cover up the real problem with fat which is that Fat = Ugly. Yep. The talk about health issues is always, always, always a coverup. Nobody makes it clearer than Voaks who harps on and on about how disgusting her friend Caroline looked with nary a word about her health.
And what about this one. Fat = Socially Acceptable! Why did nobody tell me before?
[O]ver the past decade, people have grown bigger and bigger – and suddenly it seems more acceptable than before… we are now seeing whole families growing fatter and fatter. They are comfort eating, either through boredom or depression, and are growing bigger because everyone else around them is bigger and that makes them feel as if they belong…. But as bigger becomes more acceptable (look at the fashions available now for fat women) then people will continue to get fatter and fatter, and our struggling health service will face a real crisis.
Those fat fashions! Oh yes, those fat fashions. I’m no longer more than a bit squidgy round the middle and even I still have a hard time finding trousers that look nice and fit well. I well remember the trouble I had when I was bigger – trouble I will have again in a few years I know – and I haven’t seen any sign of a high street revolution to change the position. For fatties, at least 90% of the high street market seems to consist of the elasticated waistband and the flowing tent dress. Fat people can’t wear “normal”, which is to say, fashionable clothes. It’s one of the many reasons I loathe fashion.
Imagine a hospital where overweight patients are lying in corridors being fed low-fat drinks via intravenous drips. It could become a reality. And sooner than any of us can dream of.