The first rule of Fat Club is: don’t talk about Fat Club unless you are yourself 'big and beautiful', or what most of us would call 'grossly overweight'. Or just plain 'fat'. Otherwise it’s as much of a no-go zone as the salad bar at a Weight Watchers’ meeting.
So it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Jamelia, the former pop star and Loose Women panellist, came under sustained attack this week for talking about fat people. As a beautiful and effortlessly slim young woman, Jamelia is, of course, not allowed to talk about fat people. Those are the rules.
So what outrageous hate-crime did Jamelia commit? Did she call for fat people to be exiled from our shores? Did she demand they be branded with a large F on their foreheads so we all know exactly who they are, even when they’re hiding behind a desk? Did she support public floggings of obese people caught with super-sized Subway sandwiches?
No, Jamelia simply suggested that high street shops should stop selling fashionable clothes in plus-sizes because it normalises obesity and makes the problem worse. Which is of course completely true.
The 34-year-old mother of two made her offending comments during an appearance on Loose Women, saying:
'A huge proportion of our teenagers are well over the weight they should be. I am all for celebrating people as they are … but I do not think it’s right to facilitate people living an unhealthy lifestyle.
'I don't believe stores should stock clothes below or above a certain weight. They should be made to feel uncomfortable when they go in and can't find a size. It shouldn't be normalised in high street stores. They should have specialist shops.'
Cue the angry response from a litany of rotund women angrily insisting their size is about 'women’s body autonomy', that 'fat can be healthy' and it’s none of skinny-minny Jamelia’s business.
There was even a Twitter campaign, from defiant self-styled 'curvy fashionistas' using the hashtag #WeAreTheThey who accused Jamelia of 'bullying'.
#WeAreTheThey don't have a lot of full body photos but I'm working on it :) pic.twitter.com/XAfLuFcJdd
— cathy (@morlonbrondo) April 23, 2015
I can make just a tshirt and pants look good! Fashion is a right honey!! #WeAreTheThey pic.twitter.com/KW1nsN2L3a — Mia Juicy (@Juicybstorm) April 23, 2015
thank you to the retailers that support plus size and believe we should be fashionable #WeAreTheThey pic.twitter.com/L2q7n1Qgzi
— Sarah H Plus (@SarahHPlus) April 23, 2015
thank you to the retailers that support plus size and believe we should be fashionable #WeAreTheThey pic.twitter.com/L2q7n1Qgzi — Charlie (@CharlieRosina) April 23, 2015
One tweeter, Debz, insisted: 'People's health is their own business and if someone chooses to be plus size and healthy or unhealthy that is up to them. The idea behind the hashtag is that EVEN if people are unhealthy, they have a right to buy clothing without being made to feel uncomfortable.'
But Jamelia was simply telling the truth. This isn't about fat-shaming or bullying obese people, it’s about being cruel to be kind, about being honest with people who are sporting their whole-tray-of-muffins-tops with pride while they eat themselves into an early grave. No one wants to see children - or adults - being bullied for their size, but when you can simply buy bigger and bigger clothes to cover your ever-bulging body, it is simply making the problem worse.
When shops sell XXXXXL school uniforms for grossly obese children and super-trendy outfits for over-sized teens, they are sending out a message that their size is normal, acceptable and healthy - and even desirable - when it is, in all honesty, none of those things. If high street stores stopped selling clothes in plus-sizes, it would send out a clear signal that 'You Are Now Too Fat To Buy Normal Clothes – It’s Time To Lose Weight'.
But of course that wouldn’t be playing by the rules of Fat Club, would it? Because we are all supposed to sit back and say nothing as an entire generation is fattened up for slaughter before their time. Still, as long as they’re dressed in the latest fashions and we all play along with the Big Fat Lie, then nobody gets hurt.