Superstition Ain’t the Way

su·per·sti·tion

1. a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.
2. a system or collection of such beliefs.
3. a custom or act based on such a belief.
4. irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, esp. in connection with religion.
5. any blindly accepted belief or notion.

–from the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, via dictionary.com.

From Big Fat Deal, I’ve just learned that our beloved Liss-alike Dawn French believes she’s going to die young.

And that The Telegraph heartily agrees with her, on accounta the fat.

The thing is, French doesn’t anticipate an early death because she’s ill, or because her older relatives died young, or for any other good reason that might logically cause one to suspect her days are numbered. She believes it because she’s just had a gut feeling about it since she was 6 years old. It’s a personal quirk, not a rational prediction.

She’s the first to admit that:

“What’s weird is I’m quite a logical person and there’s not much logic to that,” she says. “There are certain things I just know.”

And here’s what The Telegraph’s Elizabeth Grice has to say in response:

Unfortunately, in Dawn’s case, there is a logic plain for all to see. The article at the weekend in which she confided her thoughts on early mortality was accompanied by a happy picture of Dawn, mountainous in black, seated at a table with a plate of chips in front her.

Gorgeous, gorging, death-defying, death-embracing Dawn.

Once she was the voluptuous, self-confident beacon for big women the world over, the role model who gave them permission to enjoy their comfortable, unfashionable bodies. Now she is something else altogether.

Doesn’t she have just the tiniest inkling that allowing herself to become fat could have some bearing on her life expectancy? It would be insulting, surely, to imagine that she hasn’t acknowledged the proven link between obesity and heart disease. She must know that, statistically, she has a serious chance of dying early.

Just because, as she says, there is no history of early death in her family – one granny is 99 and the other lived to be 95 – can she really believes [sic] her death forecast is counter-intuitive? Who is she kidding?

Who is she kidding? I’m more inclined to ask who you think you’re kidding, Elizabeth Grice. I love that it would be insulting “to imagine that she hasn’t acknowledged the proven link between obesity and heart disease” — a link that’s, uh, not so proven — yet it’s somehow not insulting to assume she has “allowed herself” to become fatter, and she doesn’t realize people seem to think that’s unhealthy? Not the tiniest inkling?

‘Cause if she knew about the “risks,” she’d just go ahead and get unfat, obvy. This is why we need to raise awareness about the obesity crisis. Clearly.

Never mind that obese people are actually less likely to die early from cardiac disease, and that if they do have heart attacks, they’re more likely to survive them than thin people. Also never mind that having grandparents who lived into their 90s is actually a really good reason to believe you won’t die young.

Surely, it would be insulting to imagine our intrepid reporter would allow herself to be confused by the facts!

But wait, it must be me who’s confused. This isn’t really an article about fat-hatred, see. I mean, Elizabeth Grice nostalgically recalls the days when Dawn French was merely “voluptuous,” and gave the poor chunky girls permission to be a little bit fat. Permission to act as if they’re just, you know, normal human beings. What are women with “comfortable, unfashionable bodies” to do now, huh? Who’s handing out the moderate chubster dispensations these days? For the love of all that’s holy, THE WORLD NEEDS DAWN FRENCH TO BE ONLY SORTA FAT!

I could go on and on, as you all know too well. The ghoulishly “Gotcha!” bit about her father’s suicide and the quotes from the shrink who (presumably without having met French) calls her “remarkably uninsightful” — while asking such remarkably insightful questions as, “Why would anyone eat too much for years on end?” — could be a whole other couple posts right there.

And oh, wait, I can’t let this line — in which Grice acknowledges it’s possible that French’s premonition is for real — pass:

How are we to know the strength of her conviction that sooner rather than later she will say goodbye to baggy jumpers, chocolate brazils and crispy cakes for ever?

Yes, because that is exactly what Dawn French’s life is all about; that’s what she would be saying goodbye to, were she to die young. In fact, I do believe the autobiography she’s about to start work on will be titled Chocolate Brazils and Crispy Cakes Forever. ‘Cause I’ve Worked Hard and Become Incredibly Successful, by Dawn French, or I’m Smart and Funny as Shit, by Dawn French, or I Know Hugh Laurie and You Don’t, by Dawn French, just wouldn’t touch on the really important parts of her life: the unflattering sweaters and the food. ‘Cause — I don’t know if you realize this — Dawn French is fat.

But here’s all I really want to say about this article: Dawn French’s superstition about dying early isn’t hurting anyone. But the superstitions about fat and health — the beliefs, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a thing; the irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious; the blindly accepted beliefs and notions; and the customs and acts based on such beliefs — make a hell of a lot of people suffer unnecessarily. Just like Stevie Wonder told us.

Also, I hope Dawn French lives for freakin’ ever.

24 thoughts on “Superstition Ain’t the Way

  1. Judging by the way she jumps and dances, it looks like french Dawn is quite fit. I wouldn’t be surprised if she lived a long life.

  2. That article is so infuriating. I don’t even know how I have the capacity to be surprised anymore with the stupid, condescending, ill-informed, scare-mongering crap out there and yet each time it manages to shock me.

    Not to mention there being something ghoulish in using a woman’s belief in her untimely death to lecture all the fatties.

    As for odd ideas/superstitions, I was convinced from the age of about 8 that I was going to die before I turned 23. Told people, always had some sort of (non legal) document written detailing how I wanted my body dealt with etc… I have no idea what had me so convinced, but now that I’m several years past 23 (despite being fat and always near death!) it seems silly and more than a little weird, but I was felt absolutely certain about it.

    Here’s to hoping Dawn is equally incorrect. :)

  3. This is just getting old. It’s really hard for me to believe that people’s biggest fear is FAT!! Really it’s just beyond my scope anymore. I’m fat, I’ve accepted it. I’m living with it. I still laugh, I still make love and I’m still intelligent.

    People in industrialized countries are so trivial. Seriously, to think about what I weigh, what I eat and how often I exercise should be the least of your worries. If you’re really so concerned, I am sure there are a larger percentage of starving people in our nation and throughout the world that would better benefit if someone spent time thinking about what they ate and how often.

  4. Seriously, to think about what I weigh, what I eat and how often I exercise should be the least of your worries. If you’re really so concerned, I am sure there are a larger percentage of starving people in our nation and throughout the world that would better benefit if someone spent time thinking about what they ate and how often.

    WORD.

  5. “Also never mind that having grandparents who lived into their 90s is actually a really good reason to believe you won’t die young.”

    As I wrote in the comments over at Big Fat Deal, I inherited my maternal grandmother’s genetic baggage. Which means I’m fat. It also means that I probably won’t be a white haired elder, since her hair remained naturally black till she got Alzheimer’s Disease. Oh, and if I consider my grandma, my great-uncles and great-aunts, I’ll probably live into my 70s.

  6. That article makes me feel like barfing from the disorientation of wanting to come up with counter-arguments to everything at once. Your column eases the pain.

  7. Damn! The fat haters sure are pissed at Dawn French these days. Last week we found out that she’s really not happy, now, she’s leading herself and everyone else to early death!!!

    Fat, sexy, funny, goregous. Yeah, she should be so ashamed of the example she’s setting.

    (puts head on desk…groans).

  8. Fat, sexy, funny, goregous. Yeah, she should be so ashamed of the example she’s setting.

    I know, right? There but for the grace of god go I!

  9. Sounds to me like she’s just saying something shocking, trying to sell her book. And, since I’m a huge fan, I don’t blame her.

    When my mother was my age, she absolutely believed she wouldn’t live to see 40. She’ll be 57 next month and is in great health. Lots of people have quirky ideas about death.

    I wish the British MSM would stop hating on Dawn. I love her!

  10. I have a similar thing of thinking I’ll die before I’m 30. I know it’s slightly crazy, but I think it’s because I have no idea what my life will be like at that age so I can’t picture it. And it might have something to do with the fact that my mum died at 30.

  11. I would totally read “I’m Smart and Funny as Shit,” by Dawn French.

    Oh, and I’m convinced I’m going to live well into or perhaps past my 90s, despite both my father’s parents snuffing it in their sixties. Just a feeling.

  12. I’m always joking that I’m going to die young, so I think I can relate to Dawn’s statement.

    I, unlike French, actually have a reason to believe this. Although I am thin, I have many health problems. Dawn French is likely to live to a much older age than I will. I sure hope she does, cause I love her.

    Losing weight thinking it will make you happier is such a sh-t idea. Weight goals in general are stupid and dangerous, but to think that your life will get significantly better just because you lose a few pounds is pure fantasy.

    One’s goal should be for health not thinness.

  13. Oh, she’s so beautiful… And Elizabeth Grice appears to have bought into Hate Fat mythology. WHAT proven link between obesity and heart disease. She needs to do a bit more research. I’m not fat, I exercise, AND I had a heart attack the year I turned 60. Genetics, yes, and bad food choices that had, and have, nothing to do with weight.

  14. If you’re really so concerned, I am sure there are a larger percentage of starving people in our nation and throughout the world that would better benefit if someone spent time thinking about what they ate and how often.

    Oh! Oh! Um… What if one of the reasons these busybodies shame the fatties rather than help the starving is stinginess? All the fatties have to do, their thinking goes, is not eat so much, so it doesn’t cost them a cent to “help” fat people. But if they want to help some starving people, mere words won’t do it. They’ll have to pull some real coin out of their pockets to do that. It’s a cheaper way to feel virtuous than to do a virtuous act is.

    Is that too way out?

  15. Is that too way out?

    I think you’re on to something. There is an implied abundance of food, in fixating on “helping” fat people eat less. Perhaps it all helps people deny the fact that many go hungry every day, in this country.

  16. I agree with Eloisa – Dawn French hops and skips about far more than women half her age and half her size.

    They used to do a gorgeous Dawn French range in Evans, the main ‘outsize’ shop in the UK. It was called 1647, because 47% of women wear a size 16 or over, or something. They discontinued it, though, which was a shame. My purple satin skirt I had to for my engagement party came from it :)

  17. The father she hero-worshipped, the first man who gave her self-esteem, telling her she was uncommonly, curvaceously beautiful, and that she should be proud of her physical attributes, died at the age of 45 when she was 19.

    Oooh, imagine. A parent telling a child how beautiful they are. How dare he.

  18. Rachel, that makes a lot of sense… and also explains why people are so eager to “help” smokers. And why they can delude themselves that both fatties and smokers have no idea that their habits (which, in the case of fatties, they may or may not have) are unhealthy. Because we’re all just waiting for them to come along and save us so they can do their mitzvah at no cost to themselves. I think you’re on to something.

    Rebecca:
    Oooh, imagine. A parent telling a child how beautiful they are. How dare he.

    SELF-ESTEEM IS RUINING OUR KIDS

  19. Dang that pic is hawt. My husband says, “Um…golly.” Heh. He’s liked her forever.

    I really hope she and Jennifer Saunders work some more of this type of thing into their shows – it’s absurd.

  20. I think there are astonishing numbers of people who think that if we fatasses all ate less, it would mean that nobody would starve, because our leftovers would feed all the hungry. You know, instead of actually eating that bacon cheeseburger, buy it and give it to a homeless person instead and eat a yogurt for dinner. Do that every meal and it would solve everything! Except, of course, how to ship a bacon cheeseburger and fries to Appalachia before they got all ooky. And oh, except that rich people, who tend to be thin and buff, spend way the fuck more on food that most fatasses can ever afford to and wind up leaving over way the fuck more food than all my yogurt-sacrifices would ever solve.

  21. I was watching French and Saunders on youtube the other day (looked like a fairly new bit to me) and during a silly doctor’s office sketch, Saunders (as the doctor) checks French’s weight and says, “Ah! As I suspected you are the perfect weight for a person your size”

    I love Dawn French. I sure hope her premonition is wrong.

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