Daily Mail attacks “curvy” Miss England finalist

// 11 April 2008

You may have noticed that the Daily Mail seems to have developed a bit of an obsession recently with Miss England’s first ever size 16 finalist. Chloe Marshall has been praised in lavishly patronising drivel full of godawful cliches about “real women” and “role models” and of course liberal use of the word “curvy” as a euphemism for “fat”. “You don’t have to be a size zero to be beautiful” – oh, thank you Daily Mail, now I have permission to eat something other than celery! But it was only a matter of time before the plus-size princess was stripped of her tiara:

At 5ft 10in, Chloe should have a body mass index, or BMI, (indicating her levels of fat) of 20. Hers is 26.03.

Chloe’s BMI puts her as undeniably overweight.

Our doctors’ surgeries are full of people whose problems are caused by their weight.

Devastating conditions – from Type 2 diabetes to heart problems and many cancers – are caused or exacerbated by obesity.

And if Chloe is so overweight at barely 17, one shudders to imagine just how fat she will be a few years down the line.

Bollocks. Absolute, unmitigated bollocks. Chloe’s BMI, at any height, should ideally be somewhere between 20 and 25. 26.03 is slightly overweight, but not exactly pushing into gastric bypass territory. Furthermore, since she appears to have little fat around her middle, I would bet that she’s not unhealthy at all. She might benefit from losing a few pounds, but she’s not exactly a poster girl for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Chloe may be a little on the chubby side, but she is surely no more overweight than many of her fellow finalists are underweight. Where’s the hysteria about them?

Comments From You

Feminist Avatar // Posted 11 April 2008 at 4:48 pm

There is also some evidence that people who are slightly overweight- with BMIs of 26 or so, have a longer life expectancy than their lighter counterparts.

Furthermore, BMI is only a very vague and simplistic measure of health, with weight distribution a better indicator. And athletes are all overweight as muscle weighs more than fat.

Samara Ginsberg // Posted 11 April 2008 at 4:55 pm

“There is also some evidence that people who are slightly overweight-with BMIs of 26 or so, have a longer life expectancy than their lightercounterparts”

I’ve heard this too, but couldn’t remember where so I didn’t say anything about it. If anybody has links, please share!

Anne Onne // Posted 11 April 2008 at 4:56 pm

Exactly, it’s total bollocks. A BMI of 26.3 is by definition not ‘obese’, so how can conditions supposedly linked to obesity affect her, if she’s not obese?

Frankly, considering how many of the commenters are probably more obese than she is, it really does make me wonder how humans can be so good at criticising and shaming someone else, whilst ignoring their hypocrisy.

And EXCUSE ME, but nobody ‘should’ have a BMI* of 20. 20 is the lower limit for a ‘normal’ mass, under which you would be underweight. Promoting the lowest possible boundary for a healthy BMI as being the recommended weight is wrong, equates thinness with health, blames people who actually are a healthy mass by suggesting they should be thinner, and actually probably contributes to all that size zero fetishising the Mail is so up in arms about.

You know,it’s funny how they’ll clutch their pearls about size zero models, yet when we have a Miss England who is slightly over the ‘average’ weight category for her BMI, suddenly it makes her obese.

”Our doctors’ surgeries are full of people whose problems are caused by their weight.” We also have many people there because of tobacco, but I’ve yet to see hundreds of articles shaming smokers for chain smoking, no matter how bad it is for their health? Why does society manage to accept that smokers, damaging themselves as they are (much worse damage than obesity, since you can manage diabetes or blood pressure much better than you can manage lung cancer!), are allowed to because it’s their body, but not fat people? Where’s the outcry about the nanny state and privacy here? Oh I get it, it’s because this is about women, and whilst smoking can be sexy, having any body fat cannot. Hence the punishments.

* I understand BMI has a lot of problems if you’re using it to deal with muscular people, but if it weren’t so often misused to shame people, it wouldn’t be such a bad scale. My issues with it are mostly with how it’s interpreted by the media (like here) and how people don’t take into account that excersise and diet are far more important than weight. You be thin and be very unhealthy.

Samara Ginsberg // Posted 11 April 2008 at 5:03 pm

Anne, I just gave you a little solo round of applause sitting alone in front of my computer. You go girl!

Anne Onne // Posted 11 April 2008 at 5:17 pm

Heh, thanks. The anger I felt when I read the comments a while back (probably just after it was written) resurfaced. It’s what I would have written on their page, but remotely feminist comments have a habit of disappearing magically into the ether more often than not . . .

But I am totally to-death sick of all the appropriation of science or faux-science to shame fat people/LGBTQ people/women/coloured people into accepting that they suck. I love science, I’m not about to let these idiots hog it and use something I care about so much be used to oppress people.

We need a Ms. England (Ms World, anyone?) who is picked from kickass women on the basis of kickass-ness, and then we can have a whole programme and ceremony about how awesome they are…Funny that won’t happen.

Still, at least we have the ‘Real Hot 100’. But the more emphasis we can place on women being awesome, the better.

Shea // Posted 11 April 2008 at 5:17 pm

You go Anne! The body facists are at it again. I think Chloe looks gorgeous and is it just me or does the article actually seem to endorse eating disorders? Sinister, very sinister.

Elise Conolly // Posted 11 April 2008 at 5:38 pm

Whilst the Daily Mail article is vileness itself, I do feel a bit concerned that I’m reading comments like “she could stand to lose a few pounds” on a feminist blog.

Re: the request for links (this is just from a quick google for publically available studies)- http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/293/15/1861 in the Journal for the American Medical Association

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/323/7324/1280?ijkey=61dc117f45dadfd16469677074de6a3d80261c17&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha – from the British Medical Journal

yeomanpip // Posted 11 April 2008 at 7:00 pm

This BMI crap is pathetic.

My girlfriend is a nurse, and she tells me that more and more doctors and nurses are saying the current system should be scrapped, although it does seem that there are too few medical publications that support that view.

Kate Harding, over at Shapely Prose, has put together what is called the BMI project to show how wrong it is.

McDuff // Posted 12 April 2008 at 12:23 am

Where’s the hysteria about them?

You’re not familiar with the Daily Mail then?

Let’s put it this way. You know how most patriarchal tools have this kind of dysfunctional relationship with women that varies between jealousy, bitterness, resentment, hatred, all those kinds of things? The Mail just hates women. No, really, that’s the answer. They’re either men who hate women or women who hate themselves. They actually put it on the application form and everything.

Yunus Yakoub Islam // Posted 12 April 2008 at 8:23 am

In my indie-band playing youth, the love song I wrote to my partner (and we’re still together after 25 years) was called Baroque baby! As for the Daily Mail, how many of the male journalists there have BMIs that verge on the terminally grotesque. If you ask me, someone needs to shove a stick of celery up Paul Dacre’s ample jacksy!

Sam // Posted 14 April 2008 at 11:00 am

It’s true about the BMI being inaccurate. It doesn’t take into account a person’s muscle mass which actually weighs more than fat. After I started going to Karate my BMI went through the roof but I was fitter than I had ever been due to all the lean muscle I had put on.

Rae // Posted 16 April 2008 at 4:52 pm

Its about time that people/media accepted the slightly “CURVIER” body as normal, as that is what it is “NORMAL” – she is not obese in any way shape or form. She also has the advantage of height which means she can carry the weight evenly in appearance. At last a young girl who is proud of her curves and has the balls to stand her ground and say “I am what I am”.

I for one am sick of looking at size zero models, give us someone of normal appearance. Well done Chloe.

Sam // Posted 28 April 2008 at 12:10 am

CNN said Chloe only weighted 176 pounds at 5 10′, which would mean her BMI would be 25.3, one point less than what the Daily Mail says, although how trustworthy can they either be.

Which isn’t even considered obese, as they’re making her sound, she’s slightly overweight! And she looks adorable!

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