There’s an article in the Guardian today by Hopi Sen, the former Labour head of campaigns, about his struggles to lose weight. I liked it for being very honest and not melodramatic.
There’s one thing that struck me, though. He’s writing from his own perspective, of course, but at one point he generalises to say:
I discovered the truly terrible secret of being fat. It doesn’t greatly matter to other people whether or not you are. Given a certain level of talent, charisma or passionate interest, or even without any of these things, other people’s interest in your weight is pretty minimal, unless you’re some sort of celebrity.
Most people are not so superficial as to judge you on your weight alone, nor as interested in your flaws as you might wish. Unless you are the fabled One-Tonne Man, or mind-bogglingly boring, your weight simply cannot be the most interesting thing about you.
All of which may well be true – if you’re male.
Imagine a woman writing those two paragraphs. I can’t.
I have been lucky in that my life has contained very few people who have attacked or mocked me for my weight, but I cannot possibly be ignorant of the enormous cultural pressure for women to be thin.
And, of course, it’s not really true of all men either. But Sen’s statements really underline for me how different the cultural pressures are. It would have been useful if he’d noticed or acknowledged that too.