Fat, Media


Oh my fucking God, this article by Sally Ann Voak is precious. It’s a nearly perfect distillation of every dumbassed myth and stereotype about fat people, with a heapin’ helpin’ of woefully ignorant judgment. I kinda want to bronze it, it’s so perfect. (By which I mean, it might be triggering or infuriating to some, but it’s so over-the-top, it was seriously the best laff I’ve had since someone guessed that The Rotund is a size 12/14.)

It was really, really hard for me to pick just one favorite line, what with the fact that she says flat out there is no such thing as a happy fat person — because it’s impossible to look at a fat body and like what you see — except, well okay, somebody like Dawn French might be able to cope better than some, but she is STILL NOT HAPPY.

Seriously. She really wrote that. (I can’t wait to see how Liss responds.) As Dave Barry would say, however annoyingly, I am not making this up.

Nor am I making up the new-on-me fact that there is such a thing as a “Slimming Award,” and Sally Ann Voak decides who gets them. Or that she’s “stunned” when her former award-winners regain. Or that she believes more people are getting fat because it’s acceptable now.

But none of that gets QOTD status. No, that honor belongs to this line, which made me snarf so hard I peed a little:

The fact that I have failed in my almost evangelical mission to slim the nation actually dawned on me one sunny afternoon three years ago in Bromley, Kent.

For real. On one sunny afternoon in Bromley, Kent, she realized for the first time that she had not, in fact, single-handedly slimmed the nation.

Poor pumpkin.

You’ve got to read it. I can’t even do all the lunacy justice.

Update: Everyone’s favorite Dawn French doppelganger responds! 

(Thanks to reader Louise and somebody else — one of the Kates? — for sending me this one.)

69 thoughts on “Bingo!”

  1. My favorite line:

    One in four adults and a quarter of 11 to 15-yearolds in Britain are obese, and the problem is growing.

    As if one in four and a quarter weren’t exactly the same thing. Too bad she forgot to point out that even 25% of Martians are obese, too. That would REALLY prove her point!

  2. I had to skim, partly because the Daily Mail habit of writing one-sentence paragraphs really chafes my tits. But seriously, WOW. This woman should be laminated and hung on a wall.

    Wouldn’t it be great if Dawn French responded? Do you think anyone’s brought it to her attention? She is one of my favorite fatties, and sharp enough to lacerate this lunatic to ribbons.

    I like her repeated assertion that SHE has slimmed people. Like “slimming” is somehow transitive. No wonder she’s taking their bodies so personally — every time they “fail,” she’s failed. Well, lady, get into a profession that’s not PREDICATED ON THE FACT THAT PERMANENT RESULTS ARE NOT POSSIBLE. I swear, it’s like a tech company bitching that people buy a new computer or cell phone every couple of years.

  3. It sounds as though she’s met many fat people, she’s just unwilling to accept that they’re happy.

    (At least the fat person is a little more on the representative side — that could be my butt!)

  4. Yeah, Kaylen, I was going to comment on the illustration, but that would have made the post a lot longer. :) I think that’s a gorgeous picture, and at least it’s not the traditional Headless Fatty. But then, there’s still no face, OF COURSE, and in context, we’re supposed to be disgusted by that gorgeous woman. So… grrrrr.

  5. I couldn’t resist- here is what I responded with:

    “Ms. Voak- You are the problem. Coming up with a new miracle diet every few months with a witty cover such as the one you describe for your new “Chocolate Diet” does nothing for the health and well being of the people you are *trying to help*. Just because you’ve watched some skinny ladies walk down a runway in dresses a few times a year and put it into print medium- it doesn’t make you any type of expert on health, diet and exercise. On the contrary-it probably put you in contact with some of the sickest people out there. Size zero and 2 are probably what looks normal to you- guess what? It ain’t normal for those of us working in the real world. We need to – you know- actually eat and have some level of energy to do that thing called work– rather than writing and waxing philosophical about what might make someone lose a few pounds. Your books are nothing but garbage and likely he main issue is that you are pissed that no one will buy into it anymore.”

  6. The part that had me nearly on the floor in hysterical laughter was when she said that she knows Dawn French can’t be happy. Because she’s fat. So that whole, rich, famous, iconic, brilliantly funny thing is just a front for the sad, sad fat woman, smiling on the outside, crying on the inside.

    I, like Fillyjonk, really hope she replies.

  7. This is great, too: “I was walking down the High Street when I glanced around me and suddenly realised that everyone seemed to have got fatter.”

    That seems to work with, ah, anything. Like a few months ago I saw a very petite woman get out of a Nissan Armada (ie, giant giant SUV). I noted it. Then suddenly everywhere I looked, thin women were climbing out of their SUVs! It was madness. Clearly there is a Thin Petite Women Driving SUVs epidemic that must be stopped.

    Also impressive is: “[Whole families] are comfort eating, either through boredom or depression…”

    This is really an amazing ability she has. I’d like to be able to go up to random people on the street and run complete physical and psychological analyses on them! That’d be great at parties.

    It’s funny – when I think about how shitty it is for fat folks in the US, something like this article comes along and I’m reminded that it’s also Really Really Bad in the UK.

  8. completely telling…. “In my early 20s I was the fashion editor of Harpers & Queen and then deputy editor of Vanity Fair magazine.”

    I also like that she calls wine “fattening’. ha.

    On the daily mail site, someone compared her to a snake oil salesman. Bingo, indeed.

  9. Paul, i think there really IS an epidemic of tiny women driving humongo SUVs and I DO think it should be stopped. I mean, global warming? Note to tiny women in huge cars: that huge bohometh will not save you from teh fat OR teh terrorists.

    apparently it must be getting better for fatties in britain, because it’s so much more acceptable now that everyone’s doing it *sarcasm*

  10. Not to mention getting to do a sex scene with Hugh Laurie!

    Hee hee!

    And Paul, no kidding about seeing it everywhere. Funny how every woman who gets pregnant suddenly discovers AN EPIDEMIC OF PREGNANT WOMEN. And when I bought my first car, I discovered AN EPIDEMIC OF COROLLAS! It’s madness, the way these things are taking over.

  11. My favorite is how she points to the fashions available for fat women as evidence that fat is acceptable.

    That’s right. Make the bitches wear fucking black sacks like they used to, then they’d HAVE to diet.

    Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

  12. I like how the prize for the “slimming award” is “a lavish dinner in London’s Dorchester Hotel”! Talk about mixed signals.

    Also, of course she’s never met a happy fat person. Happy fat people do not seek out slimming advocates. Happy people (both fat and thin) like to associate with other happy people who DON’T want to change them.

  13. Happy people (both fat and thin) like to associate with other happy people

    True. And based on that, I would guess that Sally Ann Voak has never met a happy person, period.

  14. Also, of course she’s never met a happy fat person. Happy fat people do not seek out slimming advocates. Happy people (both fat and thin) like to associate with other happy people who DON’T want to change them.

    Whitney, TOTALLY! I meant to say this but got caught up in snark. She’s totally failed to realize that, by going into a profession that feeds on misery and body shame, she’s ensured that she will only meet people who are miserable and ashamed of their bodies.

  15. If you want to make it a truly entertaining read, think of it as a Monty Python sketch with John Cleese as Ann Elk as Sally Ann. “Fat people cannot be happy. That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too.”

  16. Woohoo! Slovenly bloated awful floppy sagging failure shuffling horrifying bored depressed and shocking… yet strangely acceptable. The planet Voak must be an interesting place for a short visit.

    I hope Caroline pissed in her tea.

  17. Wow… vintage Daily Mail! And right at the end they pimp Sally’s forthcoming novel “Thermogenesis – Sex, Conspiracy And Calories”… wonder if Bromley, Kent will be on her book tour itinerary…

  18. Slimming awards? SLIMMING AWARDS? Bleh.

    Recently, I worked out that I have helped 15,000 people to diet during my career.
    And almost all of them are fat again! How sad for Sally Ann that her life’s work has been so pointless.

  19. Whitney wrote: “I like how the prize for the “slimming award” is “a lavish dinner in London’s Dorchester Hotel”! Talk about mixed signals.”

    Its not mixed signals. The slimming award winner would have sufficient self hate (and would have bought the revolutionary new book “The Chocolate Diet”) to be deemed appropriate to eat one meal. But only if they have pouty lips to eat that luscious bar of chocolate…

  20. I was going to ask if you guys on the left side of the pond were aware of just how lowest common denominator the Daily Mail really is, but reading the comments it’s obvious you’ve got the gist. And thinking about it the selection of other stories down the side of the page is probably a bit of a giveaway, even if it does manage to come across a bit more classy online than it does on paper.

    I think that photo illustrating the article is gorgeous though.

    And I suspect the slimming awards are linked with Weight Watchers or Slimming World or similar. I came second in my class’s Woman-of-the-Year award once y’know. And hey, guess what, I’m fat again! Funnily though I was depressed then and I’m not now. My mum’s convinced not having enough fat in my diet was actually a factor in that.

  21. I really loved the mention of her dead mother, and how disgusted she would be by the fatties. Kinda like all my dead (most likely fat) ancestors would be disgusted that I haven’t hopped in a longboat, crossed the Atlantic, and pillaged the home of a certain, er, “writer.”

    I bet the “slimming awards” are called “loonies.” Or if they aren’t, they should be.

  22. I really loved the mention of her dead mother, and how disgusted she would be by the fatties.

    Heh, no kidding. My dead mother would hand Sally Ann Voak her ass on a platter.

  23. My dead mother would hand Sally Ann Voak her ass on a platter.

    I imagine they’re having a slapfight in Heaven as we speak.

  24. Oh right. The whole reason I haven’t gone on Atkins and stayed there is because of Torrid. They should totally make me sew my own clothing, including underpants and bras, by hand, from itchy, stained bedsheets — don’t even let me buy a sewing machine and bolts of fabric or I’ll just keep eating, eating, eating. GAAAAH.

    I’ll be toasting her tonight at my birthday dinner at Todai, while I eat all the yellowtail I can fit, knowing she’s making herself go to bed hungry. Ha ha Sally, MY guy doesn’t make me starve in order for me to get laid!

  25. Well, lady, get into a profession that’s not PREDICATED ON THE FACT THAT PERMANENT RESULTS ARE NOT POSSIBLE. I swear, it’s like a tech company bitching that people buy a new computer or cell phone every couple of years.

    HAHAHAHAHA! For this display of crocodile tears, I heartily suggest Ms. Voak be sent a pair of Crocs.

  26. I mentioned it in comments yesterday, but I’m not surprised others sent it to you. I was hoping you’d post on it just so I could read the splendiferous comments that would ensue.

    My favorite part is how comfortable her failed slimmers are with themselves and how she just can’t stand it!

    Now I can’t wait to go Shakesville…

  27. I, like many other responders here, think it’s really cool how she can read minds and shit! I mean, to know exactly what’s going on in every. single. fat person’s life?? OMGZ WHERE DO I GET THIS SUPER POWER??????

    Also, I’d like to know what world she lives in where being fat is acceptable? Because last time I had an insult hurled at me, it wasn’t, “Hey! You’re fat! AWESOME!!!”

  28. Sparkle Pants – You’re fat and you’re AWESOME!

    Mizerychick – Herpes!!! ROTFLMAO!!!!! I’ve been meaning to ask you, is your screen name a Daria reference? I ask because I’m a Daria fanatic.

  29. “HAHAHAHAHA! For this display of crocodile tears, I heartily suggest Ms. Voak be sent a pair of Crocs.”

    Awesome, Meowzer.

    I totally need to court Crocs for advertising on BFB. “Official Shoe of Team Fat.”

  30. She comes off as completely shallow in that piece and doesn’t even realize it. Meeting with a woman who she’d felt affection for for years…they have a wonderful meeting, but all she can talk about is how fat the woman has gotten.

    And, uh, last time I checked diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease were not just obesity-related health problems, as she seems to imply.

    I guess I’m just a contrary woman, too…I lost weight and fell into my first (and hopefully last) major depression. I’ll keep the weight, thank you very much.

  31. Does anyone else think this is another example of the “It’s not fair” complex? She assumes that because she has to do various things to even be happy with her body being thin, that it’s unfair that there’s fat people that are happy with their bodies that do or do not healthy things for the sake of doing it without a focus on weight? Oh right… They aren’t happy. I guess she’s just omnipotent with her ability to generalize a whole group people. *Rolls Eyes*

    I’m not going to generalize dieters, but a lot of them that do lose weight end up being like her: Evangelical weight bigots that will see my foot in future. Err.. sorry… Ok… I’m at peace…

    They’re the kind of people that tick me off.

    It’s really sad: Our world can’t grasp toleration of people of all sizes (Let alone acceptance), and I think a person being confident and happy with themself at a size that isn’t within the norm tends to be a place that a lot people are ignorant about.

    Is she a sock puppet, or a marionette?

  32. Meowser said “For this display of crocodile tears, I heartily suggest Ms. Voak be sent a pair of Crocs..”

    This. Got me. (and pepsi all over my keyboard).

    Meowser, I totally heart you today!

    I second the motion to make crocs the official shoe of size acceptance!

  33. Rose and Mizerychik: I totally <3 Daria, too! :o)

    I had to stop reading the article because I got so mad that I thought I would punch my screen. *fume* That woman is such a $@!=*#! ARGH

  34. Amazing how someone who’s written…HE-LLO…28 diet books hasn’t managed to work out that dieting doesn’t work. I submitted my thoughts on the piece, (for which read “ripped the disingenuous old trout a new one”), but somehow doubt very much they’ll be seeing the light of day. Whenever the Mail publishes an anti-fat piece the ratio of bigotry to reason is always weighted in favour of the former.

  35. I sent a reply assuring poor Sally Ann that The Chocolate Diet was sure to be the one that will finally slim the world. As the NutriSystem commercial says: “any diet that let’s me eat chocolate every day is the diet for me!”

    Hey wait a minute… *I* eat chocolate almost every day. How spooky is that?

  36. If you have the Ovation Network or DirecTV, tomorrow night you can see Dawn French on Big Women.

    I saw this program awhile back and recommend it highly.

    Kate, I left this reminder at Shakesville, but one commenter has overtaken the thread. I thought I would leave this reminder here too.

    Dawn French does a wonderful job with this documentary style program.

  37. Reading that woman’s article makes me want to read all her books and then gain as much weight as possible.

    This made me LOL.

  38. Lock her and MeMe Roth in a room and tell each one that the other called her fat! That would be the catfight to end all catfights.

  39. If you ever see it in the program guide, set this to record: “Sex and Chocolate”, a made-for-TV movie starring Dawn French. Dawn French eats a lot of chocolate in this movie but (as always, when DF is involved) it manages to not be “She eats chocolate and that’s why she’s fat”, it’s just “She looooves chocolate”. Anyway, her character is happily married to her high school sweetheart (a rather cute old-school skinhead), and then along comes another former high school sweetie (now a world-famous fashion photographer) who tries to win her back. Hi-jinks and angst and chocolate ensues.

    It’s just the thing for a Ludovico technique treatment for Ms Voak!

  40. You know, I liked that picture so much that I right-clicked-and-saved so I could print it out for the fridge door, and discovered that the file name is ‘rolypoly’. Which I suppose is an improvement on ‘ewfatty’ or whatever, but seriously? Rolypoly? (And let’s not even start on the spelling.)

  41. I am becoming a stalker of sorts regarding the Ovation program tomorrow. Up above I indicated it would be tomorrow evening, but my program menu says it will be showing at 2 pm. Do consult your local guides. Again, this is a rare joy to see FA spoken about so articulately and with humor and caring.

  42. I can tell I’ve pretty much cast off the fat hatred that my culture laid on me, because I saw the photo accompanying the article and my first thought was, “Wow. Nice-looking lady.”

    Give up, Sally. We’re taking over. Resistance is futile! BWA-HA-HAAAAAA!!!

  43. I will add here that none of the postings our crowd did made their way onto the comments with the Voaks article. Hmmm… I wonder why?

  44. What a bitch that woman is. So to her, a person’s entire worth is linked to his/her weight? Blah. And is she aware that her countless diet books may have increased what she considers to be a fat epidemic (you know — the whole diet, lose weight, and regain some plus some more)?

    What I find interesting is that the 2 particular examples of former “slimmers” who regained weight seemed to have a pretty sane attitude about their weight gain, unlike her own reaction.

  45. Reading the article, I got the feeling that this woman *has got* to have some kind of mental illness! She sets out to slim the world and considers PEOPLE her “successes” and “failures”?? She’s a total narcissist!

  46. This lady must be obsessive-compulsive. She actually keeps track of how often people gain weight?

    Also, does she have a love life? Because she talks about dieting like its a freaking orgasm of happiness!

  47. It sounds like this woman has never heard of eating disorders. If you’ve ever had one, you’ll know that you can hate your body regardless of its thinness or fatness. I hated myself every bit as much at 83lbs as I did at 183lbs. Happiness and weight are not related. Happiness has about as much to do with weight as love does- though sadly, many think we need to be thin to be loved too.

    I really liked the posted response though. It’s damned patronising to assume you can read someone’s state of mind based on their body shape.

  48. Tari, please come on over and pillage away…I for one will come cheer you on! (And feel free to visit Rosemary Conley and a few other annoying people while you’re at it.)

    I read the Daily Mail when I feel like I haven’t been angry enough lately…as a pagan, tattooed, fat, rock-guitar-loving, childless, pro-choice woman, I’m guessing their editors would see me as the spawn of Satan anyway. And SAV is one of the most patronising of the lot. I’m trying to recall if it was her who said once (trying to reassure mothers afraid that letting their teen daughters diet would give them eating disorders) that – and I quote ‘Most teenage girls would rather die than be a size 14’…as someone who WAS a size 14 teen and knew at least one person who did die of an eating disorder, I actually called them to complain about that. At least, I think it was her – it was years ago.

    Bringing Dawn French’s happiness-or-otherwise into it isn’t very helpful. According to one recent interview I saw, Dawn recently retired to Cornwall in the belief – in spite of being perfectly healthy – that she’s going to die young and wants to spend more time with Lenny and the kids. Her dad died young, I seem to recall, so there’s some deep-seated fears tied up there, but saying she ‘can’t be happy because she’s fat’ is just crass.

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