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Dawn French is Not Telling Size Lies

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DAWN FRENCH
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The journalist Shane Watson said in her Sunday Times column that Dawn French and Nigella Lawson's weight loss makes them untrustworthy. She thinks Nigella and Dawn are backtracking on their pre-weight loss claims that they love their bodies. The message of the piece is that all women who embrace their curves are lying.

Is she right? Was Dawn lying when she said she was fat and happy? Was Nigella being false when she said indulging yourself in the kitchen makes you sexy? Are all the women who are 'plus size and proud' secretly hating themselves and wishing they could look like the fashion models in Vogue?

The answer is more complex than journalist Shane Watson understands.

Plus size and proud women are at the forefront of a revolution, fighting against the pressure to be thin, using positive discrimination in the form of plus size promotion and positive body image. Positive discrimination is used to speed up the process of equality when there is mass oppression and it's a tool used in civil rights situations - which is what this is. The media would have it that women no longer live under mass oppression, but today we're as controlled as we've ever been.

The foundation for our oppression is set when we're told from birth our appearance is the most important measure of our value. Then, when this base is firmly in the ground, poured on top is the concrete: 2,000 images a day of manufactured female perfection. Then one by one the bricks are laid in the form of messages saying if you don't look like the underweight model or actress you're seeing, you are unacceptable, unlovable and you don't belong.

The coercion is served to us in all of our entertainment, our advertising and our news, and we have been bathed in these messages since we were children with brains like sponges. It's been absorbed as truth, so mothers pass it on to daughters and we pass it on to each other, and it's part of our personal relationships, our friendships and our work lives - everything.

The result is that most women feel body anxiety, regardless of their size. Whether they're willing to admit it or not, women, thin or fat, feel insecure about their looks, magnifying in their minds any natural difference to the 'ideal' and thinking of themselves as flawed.

Anyone who is a natural shape and weight that doesn't fit with the ideal will try to achieve it using dieting or whatever fashionable 'healthy eating' regime is being bandied about in the media. For almost 100% of us, though, despite temporary weight loss, the end result is failure.

So we try again. These efforts lead to a five pound weight gain each and every time we try and fail. So we end up, as Dawn French did, much bigger than our natural shape simply because we tried to do what we were told to do.

We are torn in two - understanding intellectually that our value is more than what we look like and that to gain control of our food and our lives, we must love ourselves as we are. But because we have been indoctrinated with the opposite, that we need to hate ourselves and cut ourselves or starve ourselves to fashion our bodies into the 'correct' shape and size, our intellect intermittently loses out to our unconscious beliefs. We are still swayed by our conditioning - to diet, to lose weight and to conform to this universal pressure.

Six months later, two years later or five years later, we find ourselves back where we started plus five more pounds and so we again try to right the wrong that has been done to us and we embrace our curves.

The problem is not that Dawn and Nigella lied, as Shane Watson says in her Sunday Times column, it's that they are caught up in the same story as all of us, being fed a solution that is really a cause.

Our journey into a world where girls are brought up with their food regulation and body image left intact has to start somewhere. The only way out of this trap is positive discrimination. Because until we do feel we belong in our society regardless of our size, and that is reflected in the media, we will always be trapped.

Dawn and Nigella are just like any one of us, whatever stage their weight is at. For Shane Watson to say they're liars just shows that she doesn't have a clue about her subject. Shane Watson has just dug perhaps millions of women deeper into a trap that plus and proud women are fighting tooth and nail to get us out of.

I know which side I'd rather be on.

www.beautifulmagazine.co.uk
www.overeatingtherapy.com

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