XXL

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 12 February 2011

What does size have to do with anything you ask.

Well speaking as a person who has fought with her weight since 1949 I can tell you it has everything to do with everything. We live in a society that reads us by our adipose tissue.

Do I agree with it?

Of course not.

Am I subject to it?

Of course I am.

My reason for describing the nurse as obese is because she is. Does it matter in a hospital environment - well it's obvious aint it? Would you go to a hairdresser who had dandruff, a comb over and a seriously misbeshaving rug?

I don't think so.

I don't have a problem with her being hugely overweight but there are some who do. My reason for describing her thus was to give you a picture of my day on the ward.

There is something decidedly uncomfortable about watching a huge health professional shuffling behind a trolley as she dishes out drugs.

Does it make her a bad person?

No of course not.

Does it maker her less good at her job?

Of course not.

Was I being rude, dismissive and offensive?

I hope not.

But since you bring it up it it's worth mentioning that it strikes at my own insecurities about size and self esteem.

Having lost a deal of weight over the last year, I still find myself baffled by my belly whether real or imagined. And yes it matters to me that I am less fat. Why? Because it says something about my own self image, health and discipline but more importantly its what is said about me by others. Do I care what other people think and say?

Essentially no. But it certainly feels better being addressed as a human being rather than the fat funny bird.

Do I think our size obsessed culture stinks?

What do you think?

Weight issues belong to all of us as a society. Obesity is an issue to be looked at not swept under the carpet or defended. It is a political issue when food companies lace our food with hidden sugars and starches, take away our freedom of choice and confuse us with weight gaining produce only to sell us weight reducing solutions - that don't work.

As it happens the nurse in question is extremely good at her job, very efficient and caring. But she is XXL and it doesn't bode well for her own health. Ironic isn't it?

It cannot have escaped your notice that so many 'funny' woman use their size as currency for their acts. From Hattie Jacques to Dawn French, from Jo Brand to Katy Brand, from Miranda to me. men rarely use the size of their beer bellies as sauce material

So dear bloggers the use of ones love handles to get a laugh is as old as the hills, my use of the word 'obese' has set off this debate. I welcome your comments since I don't know the politically correct position on weight and still, at the ripe old age of should know better, am still caught up in the battle of the bulge.....

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At February 12, 2011 7:17 AM Maureen Hills wrote:

Hi Jeni
Well said!!
Will be listening to your fantastic show tomorrow!
Love Maureen in Shepperton x x

2. At February 12, 2011 11:19 AM Stephanie wrote:

(In the spirit of full disclosure - I'm a recovered anorexic, now very overweight. Weight is a sensitive subject for me too.)

I winced when you described the nurse as obsese - simply because I'm so used to the word being used as an insult, not as a value-free description. You were clearly - and understandably! - in a huge amount of sorrow and distress at your mother's situation, and it read as a way of lashing out at someone who was there doing their job.

I wholeheartedly agree that it's horrific and sad and shallow that our culture is so obsessed with weight - so I really don't think you've helped in chosing that particular word to describe the nurse. You could have added just as much colour to the story by describing her age, or tiredness, or the way she smiled. You really didn't need to mention her weight.)

3. At February 12, 2011 11:29 AM Lindy Fleetwood wrote:

Weight tell me about it but from the opposite angle. Prior to 18 December 2007 I was a constant healthy 8stone 7pounds, six months later down to 7 stone, blah blah blah.....few years later and almost back on my feet up to ten and a half stone, don't mind the belly bit but the extra chin does annoy me, but hey I am alive, getting healthier could not give a flying four x what anyone else thinks, I quite like being a size 14 instead of a 10. I would not wish to put any more pounds on but if I do so what so long as I am healthy and mobile. Like I always tell our daughter it is not the carrier bag that matter but what is inside it !! anyone can walk down the street with a Prada bag but it could contain a 2.99 jumper from Oxfam. It is what is inside that matters, and Jeni inside you is just oooodles of love and fun xxhugxx

4. At February 12, 2011 2:42 PM Fee wrote:

I wasn't going to enter into the discussion but you did ask for opinions.

I guess the argument is whether you would have liked to be called obese in your "pleasantly plump" days. Say some foodie critic said he was on your Good Food Live programme with the "obese but good at her job Jeni Barnett." We'd all be screaming "What's her weight got to do with anything?"

I guess the other worry I would have is that she is a fan, recognises you, goes onto Google, comes here and finds all the chat about the obese nurse.

It's the word isn't it? It may be factual, but it's like smelly or fat, descriptive, factually correct, but kind of insulting.

Enough of that. Sorry you're going through a tough time with your mother, it's horrid I know. There's nothing you can do but grit your teeth, battle on and be nice to the doctors and nurses! Seriously it's VERY good to have them on your side, I know that from experience.

Luvnhugsxxxxx Fee xxx

5. At February 12, 2011 3:21 PM carol wrote:

Yep me too, caught up in the battle, diet, eat? Should i shouldnt i?
Its all about how you feel and how you think others feel about you. Perception.
As someone close to me battles with weight i know how painful it can be for people. This subject becomes so emotive because peoples feelings are involved. I wonder if the reaction would have been the same if you had described the nurse as plump, cuddly, large etc. The word obese is so honest and perhaps raw and some find honesty hard to hear, i myself prefere it and thats what i lke about you Jeni. You didnt say it nastily that was clear, it was a statement not an insult. You cant please em all, all the time! cx

6. At February 14, 2011 3:19 PM chris Benton wrote:

Hi Jeni , I also cringed at your comment regarding the " obese " nurse I think it was unfortunate that you described her that way , Iwas a qualified nurse for over 28 years and overweight for the majority of that time, if I had been described as you cribed the nurse in your article I would have been very upset, did you ask for permission to " speak" of her like that ? I'm very glad she is good at her job.. thank goodness .. It wasnt untill I found happiness in my personal life did i manage to fully address my weight issue, its usually the case.. Thankfully i managed to loose 7 stone & have kept 6 off for five years, i wish you and your mother well.. But please think next time before putting pen to paper. I'm a big fan of your's Jeni but you overstepped this time ..Good Luck & take care.

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