The Sunday Times Magazine: Invasion of the body shakers

01_NF06FAT_1197903kKARA FLORISH, 30, a classically trained singer, was heading for Euston station, London, last weekend to catch a train to Birmingham so she could visit a Christmas market with her family. As her Tube train pulled into Warren Street, a middle-aged man crossed the carriage and handed her what appeared to be his business card.

Florish, a gorgeous woman with dark hair and blue eyes, might have wondered whether she was being asked out on a date. If so, she was going to be disappointed.

On one side of the card was written a single giant word: Fat. On the other, in green ink (supposedly the preferred colour of psychopaths), it read: “Overweight Haters Ltd”.

“Our organisation hates and resents fat people,” it said. Florish, from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, who is “smaller than the national average and not exactly obese”, was unimpressed.

The British Transport police have heard several anecdotal reports and received three formal complaints about similar incidents. Sean Thomas Knox witnessed one last Monday at Oxford Circus station (body fascists apparently favour the Victoria line).

He watched as a “trendily dressed” man handed a similar fat-shaming card to a girl who looked “stunned”, then “desolate”, then cried.

Knox described the aggressor as a hipster. “You need more reason to hate hipsters?” he tweeted.

It seems we are experiencing an Invasion of the Body Shamers. Our weight, once a matter so private that only our mothers dared address it, has become the subject of public debate. And women are defending themselves at both ends of the size spectrum.

Last week Gigi Hadid, the model who makes her British Vogue cover debut in January’s issue, snapped back at critics fat-shaming her size 6-8 frame. “Yeah, I’m an athletic person. But I love my body because I know what it’s been through,” she said.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, Carrie Fisher denounced Disney for making her lose 35lb to reprise the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The studio did not “want to hire all of me, only about three-quarters”, she moaned.

After Florish’s experience, an online poll asked if people handing out fat-shaming cards should face prosecution. At the time of writing, 82% thought they should.

Yet if we feel compassion for those accused of being curvy, are we less sympathetic when skinny minnies are criticised?

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, the singer and X Factor judge, who is regularly ridiculed for her supposedly skeletal appearance, claims criticising women for being too small is the same as doing it to someone who is overweight.

“I would never dream of calling somebody too fat and that they should maybe cut down on their food intake. What is the difference?” she spat at her detractors on Instagram.

She followed up by calling for skinny-shaming to be made illegal. “The body-shaming has to stop. It’s bullshit. Something has to be done, changed, even if it’s done in law,” she said.

Fernandez-Versini: ‘law needed’ (Kawai Tang/Wireimage) Days after the Oxford Circus girl was reduced to tears, Rosie Nelson, a 23-year-old model, took her campaign to Downing Street. She was joined by fellow model Hayley Hasselhoff (yes, he is her dad).

Nelson claims that as a model she was constantly urged to lose weight. Even after she had shed almost a stone last year, her agency told her to keep dieting until she had slimmed “down to the bone”.



Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s