Friday, April 4, 2008

Miss England finalist is not a size 2

Chloe Marshall is a 17-year-old "was the first plus-sized model in British history to make the July finals of [the annual Miss England contest]."

A critic from the Daily Mail had this to say:

"'Feted and fawned over for her courage in daring to break the mould, Chloe boasts she wants to be an 'ambassador for curves',' wrote columnist and former Miss England judge Monica Grenfell. 'Who does she think she's kidding?'

'What she's demonstrating isn't bravery but a shocking lack of self-control,' she wrote. 'Instead of flaunting her figure, Chloe ought to own up to the truth. She is fat and she got that way by over-eating.'"


The article said that Marshall is not obese, having a BMI of 26 (a 30 would qualify as obese), which is fine for her height and weight. Marshall also says that she exercises regularly and eats healthily.

The topic of body image is what originally sparked my interest in feminism when I began to realize that many of the unrealistic ideas about beauty that women in American society receive come from the media, a lot like what is happening in England.

It struck me as particularly offensive how the critic, Grenfell, made assumptions about Marshall, such as her being "fat, lazy and a poster girl for ill health" merely because of Marshall's appearance. Those assumptions are wrong, and they help illustrate a common and terribly widespread prejudice against people who cannot wear a size 2 (or less).

The fact that this is even in the news bothers me. If people had more realistic ideas about weight and health it probably wouldn't be. Marshall's strongest critic seemed to have not done her research, because if she had, she would know that Marshall is in fact NOT obese and not "a poster girl for ill health." The fact that because this woman does not conform to the unrealistic standards of a mislead society and makes the news for it is upsetting.

4 comments:

OutcrazyOphelia said...

Fat phobia is so virulent that even in the face of conflicting facts, the resentment about this woman having the nerve to appear in a beauty competition is palpable. The urge to place people into categories based on visual cues seems almost insurmountable for most. Fat, or in this case, larger than a size 5 means that she must be unhealthy--even if she is perfectly healthy. I wish people would get over themselves and leave the diagnoses to the doctors.

lindabeth said...

'What she's demonstrating isn't bravery but a shocking lack of self-control,' she wrote. 'Instead of flaunting her figure, Chloe ought to own up to the truth. She is fat and she got that way by over-eating.'"

You hit the nail on the head re: the assumptions about fat people. Sure some are lazy and unhealthy, but lots of skinny people are lazy and most of them are unhealthy too!

We are a culture fixated on an image of an appealing body, not a healthy and fit one, and we tend to equate the 2 concepts when they are merely loosely related, if even that.

And BMI is a total crock, check out:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/77367764@N00/sets/72157602199008819/

"Illustrated BMI Categories" and we'll see who's obsese now!

Sometimes I want to say to people like this, "Gee you are so ignorant, it shows a shocking lack of control. You are an idiot and you got that way by over-indulging in In Touch magazine when you should have been reading Adbusters."

judgesnineteen said...

A great site for this kind of thing is http://kateharding.net. I totally agree, it's ridiculous that someone thinks they can look at a person and know that they're lazy, can't control themselves, and unhealthy.

Ryan Capuano said...

I never noticed it before, but it dawned on me reading this post that England is worse than the United States when it comes to body image and demonizing people who are overweight. It's sad, but it comes across as more intense in their media and through their journalists. There's a reason the show "How to Look Good Naked" started in that country. Women were feeling so horrible about themselves, and someone finally had the courage to stand up to that image.