Friday, November 16, 2012

Fat is a reasonable choice

An overweight Leftist lady, Julie Burchill,  is embittered about the well-preserved Joanna  Lumley (above).  Getting past the very British class-envy, Burchill has a point, however. 

While the latest comments from Lady Muck — sorry, Joanna Lumley — mark her out as something of a rent-a-gob (albeit one with a cut-glass accent), the hard facts of what she says are impossible to argue with.

‘Lots of people nowadays are too greedy,’ she said imperiously this week. ‘People think: “I must have a cupcake.”  What do you mean you must? You’ll get fat, you fool. They think: “I want a bit of choccie.”  And you think: “No, don’t have it, you fool.”’

On one level, she is quite right. People — and I include myself — get fat because they choose pleasure over self-denial.

But this doesn’t mean we are fools. It could simply be that we have realised that all roads lead eventually to infirmity and extinction — as the amusing slogan ‘eat well, exercise often, die anyway’ illustrates. And we have decided to have as much fun as possible on the way.

Frankly, the ill-tempered tone of Joanna’s diatribe suggests a woman who — in order to court public admiration well into her 60s, which could be seen as a sign of a narcissistic personality disorder — has starved herself to the point of rage.

This is known in fashion circles as being ‘hangry’, an affliction believed to contribute to the half-witted and hysterical tone of the fashion world generally and the psychotic behaviour of Naomi Campbell in particular.

To give Lumley credit, at least she is no Cameron Diaz, who wants us to believe her whipcord physique is the by-product of feasting on French fries and pork scratchings. Lumley admits: ‘On a typical day, I eat lettuce, followed by some lettuce, with lettuce.’

Fair enough, if that’s what turns you on — and it’s what you need to do in order to keep getting work.

But the choice seems to have stoked resentment on her part towards all those women who do not have to rely on their appearance in order to make a living.

I’d like to point out here that this is not just the envious carping of a fat broad, on my part. In the past, I have pilloried that other national treasure, Dawn French, for suggesting rather pathetically that fat women are morally and sexually superior to thin ones.

I just have a real problem with people who seek to portray fatness or thinness as moral concepts.

On the one hand, Lumley sees in mere blubber a world of ignorance and idleness. On the other, French sees said blubber as a mark of sensuality and generosity.

Gluttony and idleness are two of life’s great joys, but they are not honourable — no more than their opposite, dieting and exercise.

Big women do themselves a disservice when they attempt to become the Righteous Fat (the Righteous Thin are bad enough, all that running around and sweating, somehow believing it means anything).

The reality is simply very boring. There are exciting, intelligent, fat people — and exciting, intelligent, thin people.

There are dull, stupid, fat people — and dull, stupid, thin people. There are even — though, admittedly, the thin have the upper hand, even if it is an unattractively skeletal and wizened hand, a la Madonna — attractive thin people and attractive fat people, and unattractive thin people and unattractive fat people.

There are many happy, married, sexed-up fat women and many beautiful skinny girls sitting alone by the phone — and vice versa.

But the idea that thin and fat women might have plenty in common does not sit happily with some  sections of society.

An eternal bitch-fight must be in motion — featherweights versus heavyweights — every time the dinner bell rings.

Last year, talking to Melvyn Bragg, Lumley spoke of the panic attacks that brought her to ‘the brink of utter insanity’ when she was in her 20s and living on ‘Marmite on toast for breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. There was nothing else to eat, we were so poor.’

Referring to it as ‘a bit of a wobbler’, she told Bragg: ‘I was on stage and began to see people levelling guns at me out of the boxes.’

If she’d had a nice cupcake or a bit of choccie before going on stage, I bet she’d have felt a lot better.

The diseases of dieting — anorexia, bulimia and osteoporosis —cost the NHS a great deal of time and money, as do diabetes and gastric bands.

But the fat must simply stand there and brave all the abuse thrown at them; often, in my opinion, by people who envy their ability to live comfortably in their own skin and to value themselves more for their IQ than their BMI.

Last year, a funny email was doing the rounds: two photos, one of a full-fat Nigella Lawson at her most radiant, and one of that human husk Gillian McKeith, looking like Worzel Gummidge in drag.

The words beneath the photos ran: ‘Gillian McKeith is a 51-year-old TV health guru advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and health, promoting exercise, a vegetarian diet of organic fruits and vegetables.

‘She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements, and also states that the colour of food is nutritionally significant. She also recommends faecal examination. Nigella Lawson is a 50-year-old TV cook in Great Britain, who eats nothing but meat, butter and desserts. I rest my case...’

Far from being fools, we fatties have cottoned on to the fact that binge-drinking, over-eating and all those causes and effects of weighing too much will mean we’ll die at a reasonable age — and thus can spend our savings with abandon as we grow old.

Eat frugally, live long, then find yourself being hustled down the Liverpool Care Pathway [death].

Or follow the primrose path of living fast, eating much, exercising little and dying from the side-effects of fun? We are all free to choose. And I made my choice long ago. Cheers!


Crackdown on fat bus drivers in Tasmania

Obesity does limit mobility but it depends on how "obese" is classified

METRO'S move to ban drivers who are obese may be discriminatory, says Tasmanian anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks.

Bus drivers have lashed out at Metro after being told employees who weigh more than 130kg will be banned from driving, put on other duties and placed on a weight-loss program.

Ms Banks said obesity had been classified as a disability in successful anti-discrimination cases in other states.

"As I understand it, there's certainly the potential for it to be unlawful under the Anti-Discrimination Act," she said.

"It will depend on whether or not Metro is able to show that a person of 130kg or more couldn't perform the inherent requirement of their job."

Overweight employees of the Government-owned bus company have six months to lose weight.

Ms Banks said employers were only allowed to discriminate on the basis of disability if the employee could not fulfil the requirements of the job, or the cost of modifying the equipment created an unjustifiable hardship for the employer.

Rail, Tram and Bus union branch secretary Samantha Simonetis said the cost of installing new sturdier seats into the Metro fleet was going to cost $750,000.

Ms Simonetis said while the union had campaigned for years for a health program, the office had been inundated with calls from upset Metro drivers.

"Drivers not even affected by the new obesity rule say that people are getting on the bus and looking at them wondering how much they weigh," she said.  "They feel like they are being publicly humiliated and they are."

Metro advertisements for casual bus drivers on the weekend said people over 130kg need not apply because of bus seat design limits.  Metro CEO Heather Haselgrove said the obesity law was designed to ensure employees' health and safety and the seats were rated only to 130kg.

Ms Haselgrove said weight should not get in the way of employees performing their duties and using equipment.

Australian Psychological Society chairman Darren Stops said it was positive if Metro was looking after employees' health and it was an unfortunate spin-off if it meant drivers were subjected to public scrutiny.


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