Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Cr Christian Jessen -vs- Common Sense

I am frantic. The deadline for the first issue of Evolve Magazine is looming and as Features Editor I have my work well and truly cut out. I’m having about 37 simultaneous heart attacks* and have drunk my body weight in nice, soothing cups of tea. However, so disgusted was I by today’s events, I thought I’d cease having heart attacks briefly to indulge in a good old rant.

*Not really, please don’t call an ambulance.

You may recall, Blog Fans, that last year Giles Coren incurred the wrath of Body Gossipers everywhere when he shouted random, increasingly ludicrous statements in a maniacal fashion at Ruth Rogers on Radio Five Live. It was ok, though, because Giles Coren is just a food critic with (I suspect) borderline anorexia (not a medical expert, or a person whose opinion should be trusted on anything outside the realms of the quality of one’s gravy) and judging from the listeners who phoned in, most people were able to use their noddles and judge (correctly) that he was spouting utter tosh.

However, I was decidedly more disappointed to note that Dr Christian Jessen has today written a piece condemning plus size models as unhealthy role models in an increasingly obese population, (which was the argument that Mr Coren’s nonsensical rantings also essentially amounted to, if you were able to decipher it between his frothing at the mouth and waxing lyrical about Kate Moss’ arse). So often, people seem to be posing the question ‘why all this emphasis on eating disorders when the REAL problem is obesity?’ and now Dr C has jumped on the bandwagon.

There are a few blindingly obvious misconceptions which need to be addressed, and I am shocked that it didn’t occur to Dr Christian to do his research (back to medical school for you, I think):

1. Compulsive overeating is a type of eating disorder. It has the same common root as anorexia and bulimia (low self-esteem) and should be treated with equal gravity and sympathy. Low self-esteem is generated, in part, by the expectation to conform to an unrealistic beauty aesthetic. Therefore it’s perfectly possible that the sight of a gazelle-like, airbrushed slip of a thing could have you reaching for the Pringles.

2. Whilst there is evidence to support the idea that seeing extremely thin models on television and billboards has an adverse effect on self-esteem, there is no corresponding evidence for feeling the overwhelming desire to binge after an episode of the Vicar of Dibley. Obese ‘role models’ are there to represent, not to inspire.

3. Even if this were the case, we are talking about ‘obese’ people in any event. Traditionally, a ‘straight size’ model is anything between a UK size 4 (US size 0) and a size 8. A ‘plus size’ model is therefore defined as anyone who is over a size 10. A size 10, 12 or 14 person is not ‘fat’, particularly if they are, as is often the case, 5 foot 10 or over. (Yes, that’s even by the standards of the Bollocks Mass Index charts, I think you will find).

I could continue, but I have lost the will to type, so filled with despair am I at this apparent overlooking of the facts and the potential damage it could do to the progress being made in the beauty revolution. I used to love a bit of Super Size –v- Super Skinny but I’ll be boycotting it from now on. Very, very poor show, Dr Christian. Hang your head in shame.


  1. Once again you've hit the nail on the proverbial Natasha, and I wish it'd been you on the radio with Giles Coren, you'd have whipped his ass over the airwaves!

    As Body Gossip's mum, my comment about Dr Christian's article is that, as a doctor and a celebrity, he has a huge influence over the very people who are suffering from the low self esteem that Natasha talks about here.

    Like Kate Moss and her 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' comment, he must know the repercussions his words will have.

    Our Body Gossip celebrities work with us, not to divulge their own comments and opinions on the vast subject of body image, but to tell the real life stories of real people in the UK, with real bodies. We believe that this is harnessing celebrity power for good - to empower real beauty, and give real people's stories a very high profile voice.

    So jump on board the revolution at and

    And thank you Natasha for your wise and witty words on a very important topic. Body image is a battle in this country, and in the whole world, and it's people like Natasha who will make sense of it.

    Ruth (Body Gossip) x

  2. Very well written article and I wish you had continued beyond point three with your argument and taken the man to town. I was enjoying it!!