Great British Bake Off host, Mary Berry, is in the news this week for something other than her culinary skills. In an interview with this week's Sunday Times food magazine, The Dish, she had some strong thoughts on what TV food judges ought to look like.
You don't want somebody who's judging cakes to be large, or else people will say, 'Look what happens when you eat cake'.
Cake, apparently, is only for thin people.
Thin people, who by dint of genetics and fast metabolisms can eat as much Victoria Sponge as they can shovel in, are OK. Thin people who have to maintain a very tight control over their food intake not to become, OMG the horror, FAT, may also eat cake. This is what Ms Berry does. Sharing her tips for a salutary and nutritious diet, she informs us that in order to eat the offerings guilt-free, she has a single slice of toast for breakfast and just soup for lunch. This is clearly not about being healthful.
It is also not about personal responsibility. A responsible person in the public eye would probably choose not to foist her body image issues on women and girls (and men and boys) who are already bombarded on all sides with body-shaming; not to espouse this horrible excuse for a 'diet' or 'lifestyle' in a society where children under 12 are being hospitalised for eating disorders; choose not to further stigmatise fat people, for no other reason that the way they look (since it's not about health or personal responsibility) in a world where weight-related bullying is one of the most common forms of harassment in schools, where even teachers subconsciously mark down their heavier students - with all the concomitant knock on effects for their later life course, where heavier people are less likely to be hired, more likely to be fired, and are paid less for the same work than their thinner counterparts, where juries are more likely to convict a fat woman than a thin one, and where fat people have things thrown at them out of passing cars or are physically assaulted, just for existing in their fat bodies.
There is no morality to food. It is sustenance, joy, sharing, culture, and just plain fun. We were given taste buds and pleasure centres in our brains for a reason. And bodies that live, breathe, play, and love. Mary Berry may think the public would prefer not to see fat people eating food while fat, having opinions while fat, or enjoying life while fat. Personally, I would rather my role models were decent and kind human beings who don't judge others based on their own fears and stereotypes.