The Mail is the newspaper of choice for the slimming industry. It systematically stigmatises fat people while plugging diet products and weight-loss regimes. It persistently encourages women to be anxious about their own health and appearance, and promotes a 'body norm' that is broad enough to seem achievable, yet still excludes the vast majority of women.
The market for the slimming industry, as for fashion and the media, is getting ever younger. Hence:Is it ever right to tell your child she's FAT?
The angle here is that girls like 13-year-old Amie need a) to lose weight and b) a kick up the arse from mum to get them started. Why?
But watching Amie’s pretty face disappear beneath chubby cheeks and multiple chins brought a different heartbreak.
Julie’s despair intensified as her daughter dressed in increasingly baggy clothes and developed a hunched posture.
The principal problem, it seems, is that Amie might be deprived of the chance to achieve Proper Femininity: a pretty face, a tight-fitting wardrobe and an elegant gait. Her mother finally decides to intervene on the night of the school disco when Amie breaks down and confesses that she finds herself ugly. Having treated the girl like a princess for too long, her mother Julie now discloses that she has been lying and considers her daughter an ugly duckling.
The solution? Good old self-help. The girl must make herself
into a princess. And indeed she does:
What’s more, although she is still overweight at nearly 12st, she was recently asked by model scouts to enter the Teen Queen UK beauty pageant.
Julie must be beaming with pride! Although cod-science continues to insist that Amie is too fat, she has achieved the ultimate goal of standing around looking vacant in a swimsuit and a ton of make-up. Girl power! Adieu
, hunched posture!
The Mail uses scary language to describe obesity:
an alarming one in three children in the UK is now overweight or obese … Parental silence serves only to make weight a taboo issue, potentially condemning children to a lifetime of obesity.
And it's especially keen to blame the parents. Mothers should
be ashamed and appalled that their kid is fat, and they should
take responsibility for dealing with it — preferably in the way that Julie did:
Julie says: ‘It turned out she’d wanted my help all along, but was too ashamed to ask for it. I assured her I was there to support her — and asked her to come to the local Slimming World group with me and some friends.’
The immediate cause of Amie's weight gain was the death of her father:
‘When I lost Dad, I was angry with the world. Food made me feel better. I ate away my pain. But then I was depressed about how I looked.’
How does Slimming World propose to deal with Amie's grief and pain? With shakes?
The Mail adds to the stigmatisation of fat Amie — and fat people — by publishing those before-and-after pictures beloved of slimming companies, so that we can pass judgement on a 13-year-old according to our own expectations, prejudices and projections. Mercifully the comment system is down at the moment.