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.


At May 01, 2008 2:25 PM, Blogger Kate217 said...

Brilliant, as always. Every time I think I couldn't possibly love you more, you prove me wrong.

At May 01, 2008 4:37 PM, Blogger buffpuff said...

Cheers, Kate!

At May 01, 2008 9:11 PM, Blogger Andee J. said...


At May 01, 2008 9:12 PM, Blogger Andee J. said...

(Oh, and "Andee J" is Meowser. I forgot my Google name is different, sorry.)

At May 01, 2008 9:19 PM, Blogger Margaret said...

Well done buffpuff, that's brilliant. Thank you so much.

At May 01, 2008 9:36 PM, Blogger Maria said...

that is a brilliant comeback piece, I must say!

I remember my mother used to get so angry when she sent us out for a paper and we'd forget which one and end up with the daily mail. I never used to think it was that big a deal but now i couldnt understand more. Its trashy, stupid journalism that thinks far too highly of itself. I wish i could ignore it. But every little thing they write that perpetuates the body hatred, I take note and soon its going to end up with me taking the chance to punch numerous journalists for their wrongdoings.

my, so christian of me!

also, hi! Guess who? *waves*

At May 01, 2008 9:48 PM, Blogger clio said...

Here's a picture of Ms. Platell from 2002. While she doesn't look fat she doesn't look model thin either.

Not that it matters. That whole article has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with envy: Ms. Platell was born in 1957 and won't see 19 or even 39 again.

Are we sure that Ms. Platell is not a Puritan "afraid that somewhere, somehow, someone is having fun?"

At May 01, 2008 11:18 PM, Blogger buffpuff said...

Thanks, everybody - and yo! Maria!

At May 01, 2008 11:23 PM, Blogger buffpuff said...

Omigod, Clio. I never knew the miserable baggage was William Hague's spin doctor! That's ratcheted up my intense dislike a couple more notches.

At May 01, 2008 11:31 PM, Blogger Anna said...

And it wouldn't surprise me if the Platell is one of those people who think feminists are all paranoid conspiracy theorists. Wherever did we get the idea that the media want women to think their value as a person depends on how skinny they are?

At May 02, 2008 5:43 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

buffpuff, your writing is brilliant, and I am so thankful you and not me were in the right place at the right time to respond to this trash. Whenever I try to write such a response, I just flail around and put more and more words on the page until any point I had is totally lost. But your response was incisive and powerful, and if the author doesn't feel at least a slight twinge of regret upon reading it, I think we can safely conclude that she is not human.

Whenever a larger-than-size-0 celebrity, especially a teenager, starts to lose weight, and people out in society are surprised and disappointed, I always think "How could she NOT knuckle under to the pressure?" It's hard enough for me not to hate my body, and I'm not in the public eye at 19 reading such cruel, horrible criticism aimed directly at me like Beatrice is. I really think it's only a matter of time before any celebrity succumbs to this kind of relentless, wearying attack and starts undertaking disordered eating and exercise practices. Of course then the media poke fun at or criticize them for being too thin, as if they had no role in pressuring them to get that way.

At June 05, 2008 4:51 PM, Blogger Kate217 said...

Wow, BuffPuff. Your first Spam comment. You must be so proud.

At June 05, 2008 9:22 PM, Blogger buffpuff said...

So proud in fact, I thanked them for spamming me and deleted it!

At June 05, 2008 9:55 PM, Blogger Jane Howitt said...

Well, here I am -- late to the Party, but no less impressed, me darlin'

Loved it. Loved it. In fact, absolutely bloody brill, young Ms BP.

But what I want to know is: why so infrequent with the blogging? Keeping all those fab words inside you, bottled up, just straining to get out to us -- your adoring fans -- is not good for you! You'll pop.


And you can trust me -- cos I'm training to be an Encyclopedia when I grow up.

Not a dictionary, you'll note. Sigh.

At June 07, 2008 12:00 AM, Blogger buffpuff said...

Yay, Jane! Thanks for dropping by!! I promise when I finally get shot of this sodding book, I'll blog a lot more often. Glad you like it thus far, irregular blogger as I am.

At June 07, 2008 6:00 AM, Blogger Staci Rose said...

I got the same spam...what on earth possessed him? And, I'm a jeweler! :P

At any rate, I saw your "piss off" and added my own to his blog and can't wait to tell everyone what a git they are.

But, you're fabulous! :)

At June 16, 2008 5:56 AM, Blogger Milla said...

Hey there buffpuff new friend...
I added you blog to the blogroll on my page :-)
You rock!
And I would love to join you for tea and cake and even sandwiches when I get to London...
It's going to be wonderful to get there and already have friends.

At October 20, 2008 8:26 PM, Blogger Laila said...

It's actually quite a valid point: Why do these useless people deserve millions of pounds of taxpayers' money?

Bollocks to the thighs; the money's the important thing.

At December 22, 2008 1:52 AM, Blogger ciocia said...

I'm not even British, but I truly hate the Daily Mail. I'm a regular reader of the www.fark.com website, and if a story is sent in from the Mail, it's usually some dumbass battle of the sexes-type garbage. The paper is even worse than the website, simply because innocent trees have to die towards its creation.

At May 12, 2009 9:39 AM, Blogger mic.blasta.b said...

Dear BuffPuff,
I couldn't agree more! This woman is so on my shit list I'm determined to do something about her!I don't wanna take up space on your brilliant blog with my ranting about her so I would be thrilled if you or any of your like minded fans would like to join me and if its ok with you I'm gonna pop my email address on the bottom of this comment so that we can join forces against this bitter vile woman!


At November 14, 2009 2:52 AM, Blogger Farrago said...

Her logic is, quite obviously, flawed. The majority of the article is spent evincing the predeterminate nature of body shape, the only example of the "ideal" body being the daughter of an ex-fashion model. This suggests that no matter how much diet and exercise we partake in, we will always inherit our parents' genetic traits. How can she then slam the girl, who is admittedly "not even fat" for her (imagined) lavish lifestyle? It is not as if Beatrice is suffering from gout.

I applaud you, buffpuff, for saying what all of us (or, perhaps the non-orthorexic of us) were thinking.


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