Thin

16Feb12

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I rarely write about fat politics because I am thin (relatively). It would feel a bit like taking an authoritative tone on race issues or poverty, just like when The Help solved racism.

Still, I’ve been thinking about the sums that go on in women’s heads when it comes to eating, partly reawakened by learning that Victoria Beckham cuts out cherry tomatoes (it’ll make her fat, see. Eurgh!) My personal bodily sum is this: I would resemble Angela Lindvall (left) more closely (again, relatively) if I cut out twice daily treats, and wine, and exercised more. But biscuits at 11am and 3pm (what?) and a bottle of red now and again and staying in bed instead of going to morning aerobics gives me more pleasure than being this thin would.

Trying to be this thin would cause me a degree of pain (nothing makes my mood soar more than a crumpet) and require a lot of headspace and self-control that is better spent contemplating whether Louise Mensch runs on AC power or batteries, and other pertinent issues.

But lots of women I know, most of whom are naturally fat or fatter (relatively), decide that hardcore dieting and/or exercise – and the consequent more socially acceptable body size, and yes, the feeling of well-being that goes with it – is the price they want to pay. Applying a strict code to eating – forever, for all your life – is hard work, and it’s emotionally tiring. It’s a harsh world that makes you make that choice, because eating good food is a joyful activity and because you – yes, you – deserve it. Remember the M&S advert with the melting-middle chocolate pudding? That’s how good food can make you feel.

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One can never be too thin, a lie that causes some women to starve until they’re dead and others to spend hours of every day of their lives wishing they were different. A new book out this week tells us to stop obsessing about celebrity, judging each other and focus on more important issues. Yes, when you buy a copy of Heat or Closer you’re fuelling a machine that encourages you to hate yourself and other women (especially the ones with cellulite. Eurgh). But it’s hard to unwant what you’ve learned to want.

A wonderful woman I know who shall remain unnamed had the best attitude to food I ever came across. She is not skinny (though she sure is beautiful), and she loves food and its associated social rituals and pleasures. She makes it clear that there could be a world where daily 11am tea and cake time didn’t come with its own set of moral implications. Because it won’t kill you. Because you only live once. Because what you look like is not, deep down, the important thing.

Disgust towards fat people is often concealed as concern about health, where personal trainers bark at people crying on treadmills in the name of ‘health’, ‘well-being’ and ‘feeling better about yourself’, as if perennial guilt, anxiety, shame and self-loathing were preferable companions.

Recently I saw some sexy underwear shots and because the girl had normal sized boobs and a bigger, fuller bottom than you normally see, I actually felt refreshed to see it. These are not subversive shots (the underwear is effing lush though). But we’ve got so used to the one-note approach that anything that goes vaguely off-piste feels as edgy as a John Waters storyline.

Anyway, I know fuck all about being fat or fat politics, and you should look elsewhere for real authority on the subject – here wouldn’t be a bad place at all. I’m going to drink and G&T and hurl a bar of fruit and nut down my neck.

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