Puff Piece

A dishonest melange of irrelevant and empty arguments

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Amanda Platell: Officially on my shit list

Anyone else remember how the UK press used to make Sarah Ferguson's life a living hell? As soon as I saw a picture of her daughter, Princess Beatrice, heedlessly and happily flaunting the family hips in - horrors! – a bikini, I knew it would only be a matter of time before the Daily Mail et al got the knives out – and I wasn't disappointed.

Dear Ms Platell,

I am writing regarding the piece you wrote recently entitled
Bea, Beach Bodies and the Thorny Problem of the Mummy Gene. I’ll be frank; I found it less than entertaining. In fact it came across as little more than an exercise in thinly veiled envy and projected self-loathing and I feel it was irresponsible of the Daily Mail to run it. But then I usually react quite viscerally to journalism that encourages body hatred in women of any size. There are numerous points in your piece that I could take issue with but I’ll endeavour to keep this brief in the hope you will grant me the courtesy of hearing me out. In the comments posted after your piece on the Mail’s website, the following appears: -

Rubbish! Every female in my family is morbidly obese like Bea. I have stayed a size 4 at age 40 by exercising daily and NEVER eating junk food. While it may be true she inherited the body shape, her obesity is due to her poor habits of over eating and being inactive. 

Rebecca, Iowa, USA

Angry, isn’t she? Sanctimonious too; possibly orthorexic and/or eating-disordered – and almost certainly suffering with body dysmorphia if she feels the need to describe someone who, even by your own admission, isn’t even fat as “morbidly obese”. Perhaps you find me presumptuous in my analysis. But just because we live in a society that conflates fat with over indulgence and inactivity doesn’t make her any less so, nor does it make her – or you, with your self-righteous blatherings about needless bodyguards and first class travel – right. As someone with a lifetime’s experience, I can’t say suffering the vagaries of public transport and the discomfort of Economy Class has ever contributed to my overall fitness or made a lick of difference to my own inherited body shape.

In truth, I don’t give a rat’s patootie about Beatrice as an individual. What I care about is the effect your article will have on the psyches of the women who will read it in a climate where such pernicious, condemnatory tripe is commonplace. (In point of fact another Mail journalist had a pop at Beatrice in the same issue, entreating her to hide her offending hips from public view). I care about the many average-sized women who happen to be shaped like the princess, who will be damaged as a result of being told – for the umpteenth time – that their bodies are substandard and, furthermore, that they are under some kind of moral obligation to keep their natural curves in check. I care about genuinely fat women, whose self-esteem is ground to dust beneath a daily tirade of moralising, ridicule and vilification from the media and who know they are the thing that others fear to be. I even care about joyless neurotics like Becky and poor old Fergie, whose only means of making herself acceptable to society was to make dieting her career – still waging war on their bodies in middle age because people like you are telling them it’s their duty to society.

I am sicker than I can adequately convey of living in a fearful, vicious culture that equates aesthetics with health and health with morality. Publicly owning your hatred of your own “saddlebag thighs” does not make you the Femail reader’s ally or mate. Encouraging women to bitch about other women for daring to be more comfortable with their bodies than they are doesn’t make up for being part of the problem yourself. It’s ugly, mean-spirited and will never result in improving anyone’s physical or mental health. Instead it plays on insecurities you are helping to create and perpetuate, resulting in more self-hatred, of which yo-yo dieting and weight gain is a direct result. If you really give a damn I suggest you put your money where your mouth is and stop promoting a value system that, frankly, stinks.

Yours sincerely,

B. Puff (Ms)

I'll let you guys know if she has anything to say apart from the predictable, assuming she says anything at all.