My response (months later) to Polly Vernon’s Grazia article

Okay, okay, I know I’m months out of date, but I did rip out and keep the Polly Vernon article I’m about to write about, so I must have felt it was important.

I think it’s fair to say that Polly Vernon caused quite the stink with this article, written for the Guardian in September 2003. Her more recent article in Grazia was a little more involved. Still opinion based, it drew in elements of popular culture (a Big Brother contestant’s Twitter feed was involved) and some data (though the sources were not stated). In essence, they both say the same thing. “I am thin, I have tried to be thin and I have succeeded”.

The article lays out many of the awful things that happened to her after the original article was published, according to her there were hate sites made about her online and, horrifically, an envelope of fake anthrax that was sent to the newspaper’s offices. All because of one article discussing her weight.

The phrase that most spoke to me was this

“I am a thin woman who, unlike every other thin woman in town, has dared to admit that I go to some lengths to be, and remain, thin. I am saying the unsayable. I’m not peddling any disingenuous people-pleasing nonsense about how I am just made this way (I am not), about how I eat and I eat and just never put on weight (I don’t), about how I secretly long for curves, because being thin never makes me feel sexy (I do feel sexy as a thin bird. So shoot me). I’m telling the truth. I’m not saying it’s right, or that I’m right. I’m certainly not telling you, the reader, that you too would feel happier if you were thinner. But this is the truth about my experiences of it.”

Am I the only person who gets annoyed by celebrity women saying that they are thin through no conscious action? That they are thin just because they are? I’m not saying some people aren’t thin naturally, but at least, as Polly herself says, she’s being honest about the effort she’s put in to it. There are a lot of fat blogs out there, and whatever their agenda is, there is a market for them, but I think it’s actually refreshing to hear someone talk honestly about their weight at the other end of the spectrum. ¬†Why should she lie about her eating habits? Isn’t that worse?

There is nothing more grating to me than people saying they are curvy, and as such look like a “real woman”. How about this: every woman is a “real woman”. No size of woman is ‘realer’ than another. It seems nonsensical that I even write that sentence. The whole anti-skinny backlash has done little other than reinforce the boundaries between ‘us and them’ between ‘fat and skinny’. You have to pick your camp in the body war, are you on the side of the “real women”, or the presumably fictional “skinny” ones?

It shouldn’t be about that.

Polly lost weight due to a number of factors. She is happier at this weight. That should be the end of it. In the original Guardian article Polly wrote:

“When I was loudly declaring my love of dark choc Baci in my local Italian deli, I heard the man in the queue behind me mutter, ‘Yeah, right.’ In short: you get thin, you become public property.”

Well when you’re fat the same thing happens. It all boils down to the same thing: judgement. We’re all guilty of judging people, but it’s whether you have the dignity to keep it to yourself, or if you feel the need to express it at the possible expense of someone’s feelings.

Please forgive me for what I’m about to quote, but in The Wedding Date (oh God, I know. I know), the lead male character (I believe his name is Neil) says that “Every woman has the exact love life she wants”. Of course what he means is that every woman has the love life she allows herself. I believe the same is true for weight. And similarly with weight as with relationships, people automatically think that their proximity to you affords them the right to pass comment and judgement on them both. It does not.

I know this isn’t supposed to be a weight blog, my apologies for that. I’ll be posting something about nice dresses soon. I promise.

Lots of love,
The Lady Who Rarely Updates.


  • 1
    Jo M
    May 10, 2011 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Hi Roz, it’s Jo, Jim’s sister here!! Just caught your blog and have to say I am loving it!!!

    I often wear crap clothes as I simply cannot be arsed with the trawl of looking around the two or three shops in town that actually fit me and then I buy something that I am less than happy with because I need something to wear, and I go out feeling like I’m not satisfied and should’ve worn something old anyway!!!

    I do enjoy your personal style and I wish I had the guts to pull it off!! Good luck and hope to see you soon xx

  • 2
    June 30, 2011 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, I completely agree, but unfortunately it seems that we are in the minority. Just uponned your blog when doing a fatgirlthin search where I upponed Polly’s part-of-an-article in the Observer which talked about being thin and which I thought was quite funny. Why the vitriolic backlash? Anywhoo. Keep writing! :).

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