health

Samantha Brick has been on a diet for every day of her adult life. She thinks you should do the same.

Samantha Brick.

By KATE HUNTER

Remember Samantha Brick – the British woman who ignited an online bonfire when she wrote that women hate her because she’s beautiful?

That was a heap of fun, wasn’t it?

Well, Samantha’s playing with matches again, with an article in the Daily Mail in which she announces/admits/confesses she’s been on a diet every day of her adult life and so has every other woman with a skerrick of self respect. Brick says going without food has been worth it because she’s never been without a job or a boyfriend. Winning. If that, of course, is your goal. It’s certainly Samantha’s:

“I don’t believe overweight is ever attractive. Whether we like it or not, we live in an age and a part of the world where men and women regard thin as beautiful.

As an actress, this is something Joan Collins understands only too well, revealing last week that the secret to maintaining a perfect hourglass figure into your 70s is spending every day on a diet.

Joan, 79, said she controlled her weight during a long career so that she could stay in work – an entirely laudable attitude.

Like Joan, I have no intention of letting my body slide flabbily into middle age. I believe that any woman with a modicum of self-respect should watch her figure with the same vigour. Is it any coincidence that Joan is still attractive and in demand for work?”

When I read the full article I was horrified. What an appalling attitude! What an awful woman!

No disrespect to Joan Collins – I loved Dynasty as much as the next child of the eighties, but if her figure was being judged as more valuable than her talent, then that’s a sad blight on the industry and who would want any part of it?

I like to think of myself as the kind of person who doesn’t stress about her weight. I never consciously compared myself to models while I was growing up; and celebrities in magazines with their svelte post-baby bodies bothered me not a jot. They are them and I’m me, loved for who I am and what I can do. Blah blah blah.

But then I thought about it. Do I really not care?

Am I THAT different to Samantha Brick?

If that’s the case, why did I take a chicken and celery salad to a girlfriend’s house last week when everyone else was having actual barbecued chicken – with skin, in fluffy white bread?

Why did I apologise for my shameful little lunchbox and say, almost before I’d said hello, “Oh my God, I’m so fat. I have only one pair of jeans in circulation.”

Why did my friend and I have that silly little exchange girls have, “Oh god, you’re not fat. I’m fat. The only thing I own that fits me is my sunglasses!” Ha ha ha. Sad.

Am I that different to Samantha Brick? I’ve never tried her patented ‘Polo Diet’ (eating a packet of Polo Mints – similar to Lifesavers – for breakfast and lunch), but I’m no stranger to cauliflower rice. If I detour through a McDonalds Drive Thru surreptitiously I’ll call it, laughingly, a ‘sneaky cheesy,’ when in fact it’s just a cheeseburger.

Eating a cheeseburger doesn’t make me a bad person  – so why can’t I say I had one for lunch as easily as if I’d had a bowl of miso soup? Why do I make a joke about it? My cholesterol is fine. I have a waist. The doctor says, “No problems there,” when she takes my blood pressure. Am I the same as Samantha Brick – bothered by my weight and ashamed of what I eat, just less vocal about it?

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Samantha sees being in control of what you eat (and consequently being in charge of your arse size) as being in charge of your destiny. Like it or not, the world admires slim and if you can say no to chocolates and potato products,  the world will say yes to you. Samantha explains,

“For three decades, self-denial has been my best friend. And one of my biggest incentives is that I know men prefer slim women.

I have only ever dated men who kept a strict eye on my figure. My partners are not only boyfriends but weight-loss coaches.

My first love continually reminded me that one can never be too rich or too thin, and my husband of five years frequently tells me that if I put on weight he will divorce me. 

In the workplace, male bosses will always give the top job to a woman who looks fit and in control, rather than one who looks like a bulging sack in danger of imminent cardiac arrest.

I have some insight here, as I was overweight until I was 14 years old. Bitter experience taught me that the world pays no attention to dumpy girls. The world admonished Kate Moss for claiming that ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ but I’d go further. As I see it … there is nothing in life that signifies failure better than fat.”

A doughnut is loaded with so much more than sugar.

A quick poll around the Mamamia office showed that even if they eat what they like, most girls THINK and WORRY about what it will do to either their jeans size or their health. A doughnut is loaded with so much more than sugar.

Eating a cupcake needs a justification. “It’s Friday. And it’s someone’s birthday somewhere.”

Having chips is proof of a character flaw – a hilarious glitch in the ability to reason. “But they’re chips. You know and I know it’s the burger that’s the garnish.” LOL.

Or it’s simply clear and present gluttony. “Last night I ordered six serves of dumplings. SIX. It’s amazing I can still walk.”

Not everyone worries about getting fat, as such. Nat says:

“I do like to stay in a healthy BMI and keep fit – so I have an exercise plan and a meal plan (about 1200 calories per day) that I stick to. It’s not really strict, and if I go over it’s not the end of the world – but guidelines work well for me and I’m happy with it.”

And although Lucy never uses the word, ‘diet’ she says:

“I take my tea without sugar even though I desperately want it….  And often on a Sunday night I’ll tell myself I’m going to be healthy this week. The thing is, I would never let worries about weight seriously effect what I eat – I wouldn’t say no to cheesecake ever.”

Jam owned up to being a constant weight worrier, saying that:

“I don’t remember a time when I WASN’T worried about my weight. I basically never put a piece of food in my mouth without feeling either proud that I’m eating well or embarrassed that I’m not.

Someone pointed out to me recently that you do actually need a minimum number of calories to stay alive. I honestly never think about food in that way – in my head calories are something to be avoided at all costs and minimised at all times.

I’m not proud of that, in fact it’s a little bit sick, but it’s not a mentality I’ve ever been able to shake.”

These are smart, confident women who believe in diverse and realistic portrayal of women in the media yet they still feel bad about taking sugar in their tea. HOW IS THIS SO?

Are we really, deep down unsure of our place in the world and our partners’ affections – or do we just like being able to wear skinny jeans?

There are, of course,  women who declare they eat whatever they like and love their bodies whatever its shape and size. And there are those who stress about having honey on their porridge. I know both – hell, I’ve been both. What I’d like to know, are there any women out there who really and truly just don’t care. And how can I be like them?

Kate Hunter is a mother of three and the writer of all sorts of things. In addition her work as an editor at Mamamia, she’s an advertising copywriter with hundreds of ads under her belt. One or two of them were okay. You can follow her ramblings on twitter @katelhunter

What do you think? Is every woman on some kind of diet all the time- and should we be?

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