You might be thinking that you can’t get away from fat people on TV at the moment after a glut of programmes featuring life’s larger people (the amusing drama “Fat Friends” and the rather more poignant documentary “Christie’s Story”) but the reality is that the media does its best to exclude images of anyone who can’t fit into a Gap size 10.
As an Evans gold card account holder myself, I am often hesitant to put my head above the parapet to stand up and defend the rights of plump people like myself to be as plump, chubby, stout, corpulent, fat, big or large (whatever you call it) as our bodies make us. For there is, without a doubt, a small voice within me that does whisper to me sometimes that it might be pretty nice if I could also fit into those impossible size 10 jeans myself.
However, common sense and 30 years’ experience within this body tell me that it won’t ever happen and, even if I did spend the rest of my life on the non-stop diet and exercise treadmill that it would take me to reach even a modest size 14, I still wouldn’t look like the girl on a magazine.
And it is magazines and the printed mass media who are the biggest body fascists and purveyors of stick insect beauty that exerts colossal pressure on people to conform to an unnatural, often unobtainable washboard stomach slimness.
When I noticed recently a national newspaper using male models with sunken cheeks, pipe cleaner legs and lifeless eyes, I dared to complain that the images were not attractive (to me as a woman) and that I thought one particular model was obscenely, skeletally thin. I was offended that the ‘heroin chic’ wafer-thin fashion creed was now being applied to male as well as female models. Of course my letter did not get published.
Whether this was just because of lack of space, or because I had dared to question the style elite’s right to decide exactly what level of emaciation would be chic in December, or because I had affronted the fashion editor by imprudently noticing (from his jowly byline photo) that he was not as drainpipe thin as the images he was promoting, I will leave for you to decide.
The notion that clothes look good on a skinny, walking clotheshorse is a nonsense, as can be evidenced by countless beanpole, flat chested women on the catwalk: clothes don’t “hang well” on malnourished people – they hang loose, shapelessly and baggy.
If more people were as shocked by pictures of seriously underweight women in the media as I was shocked by the pictures of that male model, the fashion lie that “we’re giving people what they want” would crumble in no time.