As someone who lost a decade of my life to bulimia, I can’t abide the screeching about Elle Macpherson ‘fat-shaming’

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The model Elle Macpherson was invited on to This Morning to discuss her beauty secrets this week. Bizarrely, after sharing tips on weight loss, she has come under fire on social media for acknowledging that she did not pull her figure out of a hat, and that what she puts in her gob has a direct effect on the shape of her famous body. I’ve found it more annoying when models say: “I’m just lucky! I eat whatever want and stay slim!” This is only true if the only thing you like to eat is fresh air on a stick of celery.

“She’s FAT-SHAMING!” the internet screeched. “Anyone can wear a bikini!”

Indeed they can. But this woman is a supermodel. She has made her living by looking a certain way. What were people expecting her to be talking about on This Morning? Russian government policy? Window cleaning? Bunions?

When are we going to stop expecting every single woman to represent every single other woman? If Elle MacPherson saying you can cut down on carbs if you want to be slinky in the summer makes you feel bad about yourself, then throw your TV out of the window (do not do this if you have double-glazing: it bounces back and bops you on the head).

She is not your problem. There are ways to feel good in your own skin without attacking another woman for publicly saying what she does to feel the same way.

I will admit that I am bananas when it comes to my own body image. I lost my twenties to the eating disorder bulimia nervosa. The decade I should have spent having adventures and voyages of self-discovery was lost in a grotesque fog of bingeing and purging.

I didn’t get an eating disorder because Diana Dors was doing a diet segment on Good Morning Britain when I was 11. There’s a great deal more to why addiction or obsessive compulsive disorders seize your life. Let’s not blame those who work at being slim and are into healthy eating for the mental health issues of others.

Diet talk bores me. Diet talk in front of children worries me. My family drive me mad when they refer to pudding and chocolate as “naughty”. Food isn’t naughty. Guilt around food is far more damaging and that comes from those who raise us far more than anyone we see on TV.

When I relapse (which I still do, sometimes for months), it’s never because another woman has suggested a protein shake as a meal replacement. It’s never because of anything other than the bits of my mind I have to look after otherwise they cause me chaos. Let Elle be Elle.

That said, the “Are You Beach Body Ready?” campaign by Protein World was annoying. Just like the Kellogg’s “if you can pinch more than an inch” shtick was back in the 1980s when I was growing up. I was glad there was a fuss about it. Sod off if you’re a company trying to make a catchphrase around what our bodies should look like. Cake is there to be enjoyed, not suffered.

I spent so many youthful years dreading the summer as I liked to hide inside baggy winter jumpers. What a waste of time. Now I wear bikinis and don’t give a monkey’s what other people think I look like.

On I’m A Celebrity, which was watched by millions of people, I wore one in the shower and even went topless a few times because frankly you can’t wash ants or maggots off your skin properly in a swimming costume. I’m fully aware that I don’t look like a supermodel and got the booking as I was to be the “middle-aged mum” of the group. The pressure was off, I know that. I think 20-year-old me would have gone into that shower wearing her sleeping bag.

I have chub everywhere, I look like I gave birth two weeks ago (my youngest is five) and my children get to ping my bat-wings as a reward for eating their broccoli. It delights me when I see a young woman at one with her chub. I saw one recently wearing a crop top with her rolls of fat on display. Good. “You look beautiful,” I wanted to say, and I wish I’d had the confidence to wear that when I was a teenager.

The ability to send rapid-fire responses online to criticise something someone has said makes it very hard to discuss anything reasonably. It escalates to a point that a model who says she gives up cream if she wants to lose weight is suddenly made the enemy. Critics might as well come out and say: “If I want to pour double cream on my fish and chips then wash it down with a bucket of milkshake with free lumps of lard, it’s my right to do so.” Well, yes it is. Just as it’s the right of a slim, healthy woman in her fifties to suggest: “Lay off the white bread and pasta for a bit and your bikini won’t dig into your flesh so much.”



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