Please, please just stop!

// 29 November 2007

Every time I click on the “Femail” section of the Daily Mail I almost wish I hadn’t. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Sometimes it’s good to see just how wrong one publication can get it, even if it is to tear it up for ass paper. At least one thing can be guaranteed – it’s consistent.

While it claims to cater for women, Femail provides nothing more than hackneyed celebrity crap and clichéd perspectives that can be found in any women’s or lad’s magazine. Women are too fat, too thin, too old, too ugly, too pregnant. The list goes on and on. It’s supposed to have a female agenda, and although it’s about women, it denigrates us in the most crass way that I sometimes wonder if Paul Dacre is just having a laugh.

Take the last few days, for example. Sarah Harding of Girls Aloud and the actress Jennifer Love Hewitt have had the Mail editorial treatment. And what’s the verdict? Sarah Harding, who probably weighs little more than 8 stone soaking wet and wearing lead-lined scanties, has bingo wings and was apparently “ready for take-off” at the recent launch of a hair salon. You’re surprised aren’t you? I was, especially when I saw the photographic “evidence.” Maybe it’s because I’m not looking through the eyes of a Daily Mail reader, but I could see nothing other than a woman with a very well-toned body. But no, according to the Mail:

“…when she arrived her little black dress revealed the unsightly loose skin – hence the term ‘bingo wings’ on her skinny arms.”

Harding has recently lost weight, and the article does draw on this, but only to offer the claim that this has proved less than aesthetically pleasing. We are offered no useful or insightful information. Don’t you just love the way the press continues to revel in what it sees as the misfortune of others!

Jennifer Love Hewitt has come under fire for being a bit of a porker, apparently. The Mail juxtaposes two photos of Hewitt – one taken recently on the beach during a Hawaiian holiday with her fiancé, and a photograph taken for an ad campaign. She looks beautiful in both photographs, but in the former she looks like she’s gained a little bit of weight. She’s now possibly, for example, a size 8 whereas once she was probably a size 4! The Mail continues:

“The star’s curvy, cellulite-riddled physique was in stark contrast to the slender – and airbrushed – frame she showed off during a recent advertising campaign for US label Hanes.”

I would hardly call her “cellulite-riddled,” but so what if she does have a bit of cellulite? Who doesn’t? And who doesn’t look smoother in an airbrushed photography? It’s not real! The main problem with these articles is not only that there is actually nothing wrong with JLH or Harding, but that the Mail thinks that it can comment on their physical attributes in such a destructive and harmful way. They are women, albeit women in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean they can’t gain weight or get old – or – gasp – go grey! We all do!

The Mail must be a pretty unusual place to work. If the same rigid standards of perfection are enforced on the staff as they impose on the world of female celebrity then it must be an office filled with uber skinny wannabes pumped full of so much botox that their skin looks like it has been glued onto their faces. I’ve tried to figure out the rationale behind the Mail’s thinking – maybe they believe that in drawing on “flaws” of female celebs they will encourage women in general to accept the fact that it is acceptable not to be “perfect” (whatever that means). However, I’m sceptical. What this article does is criticise women who are widely considered beautiful, and who are still considered such in spite of what the Mail has to say. This, then, further perpetuates the idea that physically we will never be good enough. One thing is certain, if I had bingo wings like Sarah Harding, I would be a very happy woman!

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