Why demonising Kate Moss is hypocritical

Monday, 23 November 2009

I'm pretty sure this is being said here, there and everywhere so apologies for being late to the party but I was busy all weekend at Reclaim The Night and travelling to and from London. Here is a bonus picture of me looking a bit damp and wearing my fabulous marching hat. Anyway. Kate Moss. I missed the initial uproar over her "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" comment, only managing to catch up with it last night. People have been (quite rightly) pointing out that actually, plenty of things taste as good as skinny feels, at the same time as lambasting Kate for her 'irresponsible' comments and accusing her of fuelling the eating disorders of young women. So far, so predictable.

But all these outraged people, intent on blaming Kate for the misfortune of every eating disorder sufferer the world over, have generally failed to point out one thing. While she did make an ill-advised comment which just happens to be the mantra of many eating-disordered people, it's a comment that isn't so very different to the message pushed on us every day by television shows, magazines, books and plenty of other celebrities. They may not use those exact words, but everyone knows it's what they mean.

When I worked with women's magazines, one thing I used to notice was the very narrow weight range that was 'acceptable' for a celebrity. I remember an interview in which a member of Girls Aloud bemoaned how 'fat' she felt when she weighed her heaviest - 112 pounds. I remember a soap star telling a journalist that she weighed 125 pounds, but hurriedly 'justifying' such a weight by adding that much of that was muscle and was down to all the time she was spending at the gym. Admitting you weigh 125 pounds without justification is only acceptable if you're a reasonably tall celebrity, known for your 'curves'. And by the way, 'curves' means 'larger than average breasts'.

That was three years ago, but of course nothing's changed today. Women's magazines fixate on dieting to the point that the 'advice' they give about avoiding snacking and 'naughty' foods isn't so different to the tips you'd find on a pro-eating disorders website. In this month's Elle magazine, Kate Hudson is quoted as saying:
"I'm pretty solid, actually. I'm not, like, 110 pounds. But I'm probably heading towards that."
Maybe we should be grateful for small mercies - at least the interviewer went on to point out what a particularly 'Hollywood' definition of 'solid' that is.

Oh, and I bought a muffin from the canteen at work recently. The woman serving me tutted and said "Naughty naughty!" as I paid for it. This isn't the first time I've been admonished for buying something sweet from the canteen. Oh no. On purchase of a packet of Minstrels last year, the woman who took my money told me they would make me fat. Yes - one packet of Minstrels: a lifetime on the hips. Try as you might, you can't escape the implication that enjoying what you want, when you want is very bad indeed. Or at least something to berate yourself for, promising to work extra hard at the gym later because you ate some chips for lunch.

Kate Moss may have said it, but plenty of other people, publications and companies imply it with everything they do. Let's not demonise one model and ignore the rest. Doubtless, Kate is a role model for many young women, but young women take inspiration from plenty of other sources. For the media to display outrage is just hypocritical, not least because for them it's yet another opportunity to indulge in a favourite past-time - cricising a famous woman and the way she looks.

Part Two of On Marriage to follow this week, hopefully.


Anonymous said...

Several people have since pointed out that this slogan was actually coined by Weightwatchers - an organisation which is advertised in the publications whose writers criticised Kate Moss for using it.

eau d'bedroom dancing said...

apparently kate is gonna eat a load of food now publicly? did you hear about that?

Hannah M said...

Yes i heard about the Weightwatchers link. It just shows how supposedly inoffensive and health-promoting organisations actually perpetuate these ideas as much as anyone like Kate Moss.

I haven't heard much about it since actually but to be fair i've been really busy this week and haven't really had the time to look at much news.


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