I’m afraid it’s a ranty one today, tumblr, and only tangentially related to my outfit. Four words: Linda Kelsey; Daily Fail. Yes, I know I’m more than a little fashionably late to this party and this piece has already inspired numerous scathing and satisfying take-downs. Nonetheless it’s been gnawing at my gusset and vent I must. Hold onto your hats, (or just look at the pictures, whatever tickles your pickle).
Ms Kelsey, a woman who battled severe depression for three years and who claims she has more compassion for herself and for others as a result of being hospitalised with it; yes, that Linda Kelsey… thinks we fat people aren’t sufficiently ashamed of our fatness – a fact she deduced by witnessing three young fat women not clad in sackcloth and ashes, wantonly sharing a packet of crisps at an airport. The nerve! One can only imagine the censure had they had a packet of crisps each. Still, she gave it a jolly good go.
I don’t know what it is with sanctimonious fatphobes like Kelsey but there’s something about the fanciful hyperbole they employ when exercising their bigotry that positively borders on the salacious. One or two adjectives will never suffice to convey their distaste for bodies like mine; they have to use every synonym for fat in their lexicon. That they take pleasure in this is self-evident; and I quote: “bulging bellies”, “billowing pillows of back and shoulder stuffing, punctured by flabby arms and lardy legs”, “a super-sized sausage of overhanging belly”. It’s like poetry; lush, splenetic, deeply misogynistic poetry. Though, curiously, slender bodies don’t fair much better with her later references to “self-starving stick insects”, “Keira Knightley’s razor-sharp scapula and fried egg breasts” and “Victoria Beckham’s hand-span thighs and knife-edge hips”. I suspect she may Have Issues but I’m buggered if I know what they are beyond, “My eyes! Take these fat people far away from meee!” But then that’s what articles like this always boil down to in the end, every single motherfucking one.
Tirades like this are never about health; they’re about aesthetics and money. And not NHS money either; the untold buckets of dosh raked in by cynical moolah-grubbing wankpots who profit from as much of the populace fearing and reviling fat bodies as possible. Health, as Kelsey well knows, has a mental component that impacts directly on the physical, and comes with its own type of stigma. Forget the fact that her entire argument hangs on the spurious and reductive shibboleth that all fat people are fat because they eat vast amounts of junk food and never exercise; or that there have been several honest-to-gosh scholarly studies that prove categorically that weight based discrimination and stigmatisation not only threatens mental health but increases risk for obesity. What young fat women need, according to Kelsey, is a damn good dose of opprobrium to ensure they feel as worthless as possible. I would say the hypocrisy beggars belief but this is the Mail we’re talking about.
Like the majority of fat bashing journos Kelsey has, by her own admission, never been fat in her life, ergo she hasn’t a clue that those of us who are have to suffer the same censorious rhetoric numerous times a day from multiple media outlets; that we hear the same sweeping generalisations and negative stereotypes parroted – along with the same patently bogus concern for our health – by every concern trolling knob jockey on the internet. Unlike me she has the supreme privilege of being able to tune it out.
Frankly this article is so chockfull of ignorant supposition and prejudice I could write a ten thousand word dissertation and still not be done but, it’s the inability to make a connection between eating disorders, which are rising exponentially, and the fat hatred of which Kelsey is so repellently proud that grates my cheese the most. For someone who loves to bang on about personal responsibility, (and don’t they always?), it’s high time she realised that talking shit about fat women’s bodies negatively impacts on the self esteem of all women. It’s time she got off her high horse, stopped assuming she knows diddly about the lives of perfect strangers, and took some culpability for contributing to a toxic culture. Most of all it’s time she took her head out of her backside and realised that nobody owes her invisibility or shame.
…which is kind of what this blog is all about.
Rest assured that thunderstorms permitting I shall be dressing like a brisk poke in the eye to the likes of Linda Kelsey on the morrow. And I very much hope you’ll join me in doing the same.