Read over someone’s shoulder on the tube an ad in Metro for today’s Daily Mail: “What to do when your daughter is obsessed with her weight – AT JUST SEVEN?” . And I think we can all agree that poor body image, an obsession with weight and diet and an unhealthy fixation on being thin are a curse affecting women from an increasingly young age.
Can I suggest that one answer for the writer of the article is “don’t ever let her look at the Daily Mail”? Yesterday’s Metro (seen the same way, I never actually pick the damn thing up) carried an ad for the Mail crowing: “The brilliant article all women should read – what’s YOUR fat age?” Apparently Carol Vorderman is really 48 but has a fat age of 50 – evidently got some work to do, eh Carol? I looked at the site to get the link and saw that the top picture on the home page is of actress Kirstie Alley (or “bloated yo-yo dieter Kirstie Alley” as they describe her) grimly promising to get back into her bikini.
Why any woman should read the Mail – far less write for it – is a mystery to me. It hates us for being too fat and too thin; for worrying too much about our weight and for not caring enough; for going out to work thus neglecting our children and for staying at home and wasting our potential. It thinks we dress too young for our age and too frumpily, and is constantly on guard to warn us about the horrible diseases of mind and body that we poor weak creatures are prone too.
The Mail is so successful among women that we must really like this stuff. Perhaps the female equivalent of Englishmen who like to be spanked is women who like to be told by Paul Dacre that they are rubbish. I remember reading an interview by Irma Kurtz, who used to write the agony column for Cosmo in the UK and US edition. She said that the big difference between the two sets of readers was that while an American would ask “why on earth is my boyfriend treating me like this?” the Brits would ask “what did I do wrong to make my boyfriend treat me like this?” But at least the Mail is always on hand to point out our errors. As it said in my favourite Mail headline of all time, last summer “Why single women who say they’re happy are lying“ (trying to find the link I put “single women who think” into the Mail search engine and the page crashed…)