I haven’t yet written about Chloe Marshall, the 17-year-old plus-size model who’s in the running for Miss England this year, only because I’ve had a zillion other things on my plate lately. Marshall’s a UK size 16 (i.e., US size 12/14), the biggest contestant they’ve ever had, and she’s already been crowned Miss Surrey. Woo hoo!
I would also probably have chosen not to acknowledge diet book author Monica Grenfell’s horrid opinion piece about Chloe in the Daily Mail, but so many Shapelings e-mailed me about it this morning, I would apparently be shirking my duties as a fat blogger if I skipped it. (Also, I kinda want the e-mails to stop. Not that I don’t love your missives, ’cause I do, but holy crap, this touched a nerve.)
So, Monica Grenfell comes off as a fucking idiot. That’s kind of all you need to know. She’s also a dietician. [Update: apparently she is not, though the article identifies her as one.] Now, I know some people around here are dieticians, are planning on becoming them, and/or have worked successfully with dieticians in the past, so you don’t like seeing them take crap. That’s totally fair. But let’s just say that when some of us say we wonder how many dieticians have eating disorders and/or a pathological fear of fat, we’re thinking of people like Monica Grenfell.
I hope she doesn’t win the Miss England title.
It would send an appalling – and very dangerous – message to other young women that it’s OK to be fat.
Chloe is a stark reminder that obesity is now virtually normal in our society – and we should all be hanging our heads in shame.
Because as we all know, shame is an excellent way to make people lose weight, and it’s worked fantastically well so far. Except for how the opposite is true. Facts, schmacts. Fat is icky!
It gets better.
At 5ft 10in, Chloe should have a body mass index, or BMI, (indicating her levels of fat) of 20. Hers is 26.03.
Okay, setting aside the fact that the “overweight” BMI category carries the lowest mortality risk, and people in it fare better than others when it comes to all sorts of diseases, the cut-off for overweight is 25. (10 years ago, it was 27.) We’ll also set aside the fact that several published reports have Chloe at 5’10” and 176 lbs., giving her a BMI of 25.3, not 26.3. Where the hell does Grenfell get off deciding Chloe Marshall–or anyone–“should” have a BMI of 20? Seriously, when your rhetoric makes a BMI chart look reasonable and fair when it comes to acknowledging natural size diversity, you need to check yourself, lady.
And it gets better still.
It’s a total fallacy that young girls are being pressured into near-starving themselves into being too thin.
Take a look around you and you will see that the total reverse is true.
Teenage girls aren’t in danger of falling victim to an epidemic of anorexia – but of obesity.
That’s right, folks. Teenage girls are under insurmountable pressure to get fatter. You heard it here first.
From a woman who gets paid to tell people how to eat.
The fact that Chloe Marshall exercises, eats a balanced diet, and knows from experience that she’d have to starve herself to be any thinner is meaningless to Grenfell, who says “I don’t doubt she is telling truth,” but then goes on to say:
Chloe claims she “crept up” to a size 16 after dieting to a size 12 on top and 14 on bottom. She’s kidding herself.
Her weight didn’t “creep on” magically – she ate too much food.
Every excess 1lb of weight she’s carrying – and I reckon she is at least a stone overweight – equates to five meals she didn’t need.
Hmmm. I do not think “I don’t doubt she is telling the truth” means what you think it means, Ms. Grenfell.
Also, how ’bout that, y’all? 5 meals=1 lb! I have heard a LOT of fucked-up dieting math in my day, but that’s a new one on me. (On the upside, all I have to do to get myself back under the “overweight” cut-off is skip my next 250 meals.)
Once again, this woman is advising clients and selling books based on her “expert” knowledge about weight and food. A woman who claims the pressure on young girls to be thin is “a total fallacy”; that fat is not only acceptable but fashionable; that a fat woman who says she exercises, eats a healthy diet and has to starve herself to be thinner is simply in denial about having eaten too much; that anorexia is not a danger we should be worried about; that Chloe Marshall’s body demonstrates “a shocking lack of self-control”; and that a 17-year-old girl should have a BMI a full 5 points under the cut-off for “overweight” because, um, she said so. That’s who gets paid to tell people what “healthy eating” is.
“Dangerous nonsense” indeed.
Update: from Monica Grenfell’s website (via Shapeling A Sarah), here’s a little about her newest book:
CRASH DIET is Monica’s newest, most original diet book, which goes back to the basics of old-fashioned crash dieting to help you lose those ‘vanity pounds’ (the ones only you know are there!)
Monica Grenfell will tell you how to restrict calories to lose pounds “only you know are there.” I rest my fucking case.