Samantha Brick, no stranger to writing horrific things to get attention, has written another missive about how awful it is to be fat and how absolutely laudable it is that she will do anything to remain thin. She called the piece “Joan Collins is right. Any woman who wants to stay beautiful (like me!) needs to diet every day of her life.” Her views of life are so different from mine and many people I know that I thought I would take a stab at some translations before I give my thoughts:
So when one friend arrived and thrust a hefty box of chocolates into my hands, I rewarded her with ice-cold contempt rather than the grateful smile she was clearly expecting.
I am a fucking rude person who has no class.
For three decades, self-denial has been my best friend. And one of my biggest incentives is that I know men prefer slim women.
I prefer to ignore what I want in the pursuit of being attractive to men.
I am 42 years old and have been on a permanent diet for the past 30 years. The logic is simple and irrefutable: any self-respecting woman wants to be thin, and to be thin you need to spend your life on a diet.
I do not know what the words logic and irrefutable mean.
I have only ever dated men who kept a strict eye on my figure. My partners are not only boyfriends but weight-loss coaches. My first love continually reminded me that one can never be too rich or too thin, and my husband of five years frequently tells me that if I put on weight he will divorce me.
I prefer to date men who are very likely to leave me when time or circumstance changes my outward appearance.
The world admonished Kate Moss for claiming that ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ but I’d go further. As I see it, there is nothing in life that signifies failure better than fat.
I’m a bigot making a random reference to Kate Moss that doesn’t really make much sense in context.
She goes on to describe some eating habits that sounds like they could be disordered (eating a pack of mints for breakfast and one for lunch, dieting until she passes out, dieting where “the side-effects mean that I don’t have the mental or physical fortitude to work.”, renting a house without a kitchen, enjoying hunger pangs etc.) I’ll say now that it’s possible that this woman is suffering from an eating disorder, and if that’s the case then I very much hope she gets the help she needs. It’s not my job, or my intention, to diagnose her – I just want to make it clear that I understand the possibility is there.
It’s also possible that this is an attention grab (maybe hyperbolized or entirely made up.) If that is the case then I would say that this woman is allowed to live her life any way that she wants – spend huge amounts of time, money, and attention pursuing thinness and making choices about how she looks, dresses and behaves based on what men think.
The problem for me is when she confuses what she chooses to do with what “any self-respecting woman” should do. I actually find it hard to put self-respect and “one of my biggest incentives is that I know men prefer slim women” in the same piece but if that’s her definition of self-respect that’s fine for her.
For those of us who want to move away from a society where both women and men expect that women will make choices based on what we think men want, or base our self-esteem on whether or not men claim to want to have sex with us, it can be really frustrating when a women is eager to not only capitulate but actually assert as obligatory the idea that women should judge their attractiveness, worthiness, and right to like themselves based on what some shallow men think seems like a step in the absolutely wrong direction.
Missives like this one can actually seem like a threat, essentially saying “You’d better conform and base your life around pleasing men because if you don’t I will.” I think one of the reasons that many fat women continue to diet even after they find out that it almost never works, and the reason that a lot of women aren’t willing to step outside the status quo, is that they know women like Samantha exist who will cling to the status quo regardless of the consequences, and so stepping out of the mainstream is a risk that may have negative consequences. I have often said on this blog that risk is the currency of revolution, and so if we want change some people are going to have to risk. It doesn’t have to be you and there’s no shame if you’re not ready to take the risk or if you don’t want to, but it could be you if you want.
If you are wondering what kind of activism you can do around this, I suggest this exercise: If you woke up tomorrow and you knew that you would meet the stereotype of beauty forever without any more work – what would you do with your time, money, and attention? How would your life be different? Considering making some of those changes right now.
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