Sunday, 21 February 2010

A heavy blog (ironically).

As a gay man I am discriminated against and that is just how it is. People in the street shout things at me, groups of youths sit obviously whispering about me on the metro, old people look down their noses at me for seemingly no reason. All of this makes me laugh, because what else can I do? At the end of the day, I'm comfortable enough in my own homosexuality to know people are wrong to do this, so I sit back and laugh at it without really paying much attention to it (a healthy dose of general arrogance cannot hurt with shrugging all this off, if truth be told).

Having said that, if I'm honest, I feel much more marginalised and judged by society because of the fact I'm an underweight person than anything else. In my last blog I mentioned Victoria Beckham springing to the defence of naturally thin models who always get a rough ride for "promoting an unhealthy body image" and "pushing people into eating disorders". I ended up typing out quite a rant, but decided that it could all wait for another blog. This is that blog.

Now, I'm not going to be naive and say that every underweight model eats three meals a day and just "happens" to end up skinny because that is how their metabolism works. I'm perfectly aware that what is probably a vast majority of these girls are having a line of cocaine for breakfast and a helping of their own finger for dinner. And I agree, these girls are a bad influence. These girls do indeed promote unrealistic views of women and body image, and shouldn't be allowed to continue promoting eating disorders as a way of being successful. It actually knocks me sick that young girls would see these models and starve themselves to be like them. I'm with everyone else in that respect, and really do wish that this was not the case because anorexia and bulimia and body dysmorphia and all that really are a lot more serious than everyone gives them credit for.

However, let's take a look at Nicole Richie. Nicole Richie took a hammering from the media because of her weight. People were saying she needed help, people were saying she made them sick, even paparazzi photographers were shouting at her that she was disgusting and needed to "gain some fucking weight". Now, I don't claim to be a fan of Nicole Richie but this is because, unlike Paris Hilton and Kelly Osbourne who really gave it a good go at being famous for something, Nicole Richie is celebrity offspring who actually is famous for nothing. As I'm sure you know I'm a big fan of the celebrity world in general, and don't really like it when people manage to wriggle their way into it without really achieving anything. I do have to stand up for Nicole Richie, though, she was just getting on with her life and having abuse literally shouted at her on the street because of the way she looked. LET'S HEAR WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY ABOUT IT ALL:

"You don't scream at people that they are overweight, so what makes people think that they have the right to scream at me that I am underweight? It's upsetting and mean. I am not anorexic."

And I do know exactly what she's talking about. There have been times when I will have been in a club, dancing away my troubles when someone will come up to me and say things like "You're so skinny. Ergh. C'mere, get a look at how skinny he is" etc. etc. Now I'm not going to sit here and say that overweight people get nothing but positive feedback from the general public with people always commenting on how jolly they seem and rubbing their cute bellies for good luck. But I'm also pretty sure that you would not go up to a stranger in a club and randomly comment on how fat they are looking, giving noises of repulsion and telling them "oh my god you need to lose some weight!" as much as I have heard "oh my god you need to gain some weight".

To be clear, I am not on any diet. I do not do any exercise whatsoever. Generally I will go to McDonalds three or four times a week. Usually I will order a medium meal and a burger and a milkshake and occasionally a donut, and devour the entire thing. I do not eat healthily, I just eat when I'm hungry and that is it. I do not look the way I do because that I aspired to be skinny, it just happened that way. More importantly, I do not have an eating disorder, and absolutely hate when people suggest otherwise because it is a really serious thing to be accused of. I don't like to talk about how much I weigh because it is embarrassing. If there was a quick-fix way of gaining weight then I'd be all for it, but I'm still proud to be a thin person because that's just who I am.

And, of course, it works both ways. This is not a blog where I go on and on about how great it is being skinny and think we might as well exterminate the overweight community. People in the media being picked on and laughed at for being overweight pisses me off just as much as the Nicole Richies and Victoria Beckhams of the world getting a hard time. Long-time readers will remember me raging last year when NW magazine put pictures of Mary-Kate Olsen on their front page looking slightly slightly larger than normal with the headline "What's happened to Mary-Kate?" A headline like this is disgusting in any circumstances but, a) Mary-Kate looked fine, if at something of an unflattering angle and b) Mary-Kate is a sufferer of anorexia nervosa, and really should have some sort of Get Out Of Jail Free Card when it comes to media speculation about weight gain.

My absolute idol Britney Spears performed Gimme More at the VMAs in 2007. I'm sure you remember it, it was an absolute train wreck. Her miming was out of time, her hair extensions looked like lamp-shade tassles and her tan was as fake as her smile. It was, in short, a disaster. And I loved every minute of it. The next day, however, the press only seemed to want to talk about one thing, and that is how chubby Britney was looking. The New York Post led with the headline "Lard and Clear", while E! online talked of her "bulging belly". Shall we look at the photos of her again?

Anyone who would use the word "fat" to describe this woman has something wrong with them.

OK, let's get real, she's not exactly wearing a flattering outfit. But even with my Britney-loving rose-tinted glasses off, I can see that this is not a large woman. This is barely even a woman who could be described as "curvy". It seems that people like Britney and Mary-Kate are so much in the public eye that journalists (shamefully) want any opportunity to bring them down and that is usually by playing off people's insecurities, which usually stem from their weight. (There was also an awful review of Britney's Circus Tour which I had a rant about on my old blog, which claimed Britney was looking like a porker when she looked lush. I really do hate the media talking about weight, it really is unhealthy).

Let's go back to Victoria Beckham's original comment: "I don't think we should be discriminating against people because they're too thin or too large or whatever it is". And there it is, she has hit the nail right on the head. Being underweight and being overweight completely go hand in hand. We're all big enough now to know that making fun of people being too big is not cool it is not big and it is not clever. And so let's remember the flip-side of the coin, and not go to the skinny place either.

I'm all for saying that Beth Ditto is an inspiration and a good role model, but if we're going to do that then we have to say that Victoria Beckham is as well.



  1. Can you still get chocolate topped doughnuts at McD's ??

  2. Hey dan,

    I didn't even know you had a blog. I like this article.. You have made me feel better about my post pregnancy body lol miss you

  3. Oh well, brownies are quite good, especially with a coffee :)

    (ps don't use my real name, you'll destroy my mystique!)

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