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It’s that time again…

This week, repeat-offender Newsweek can’t report on David Cameron’s handling of the Murdoch Scandal without calling him fat. Twice.

“And when I look upon the slightly chubby, shapeless, ruddy face of British Prime Minister David Cameron, I can see Orwell’s prescience once again.” [emphasis added]

Let’s not even get into the fact that “David Cameron is fat” is total news to me. What do the words “slightly chubby,” “shapeless,” and “ruddy” add to this sentence (besides perhaps indirectly calling George Orwell’s looks into question as well)? What is the message here? Clearly, fat begets ugly begets political incompetence.

“The political right remains frustrated because Cameron simply doesn’t have the fire in his flab for demonizing asylum seekers or welfare cheats.” [emphasis added]

I love alliteration as well (also consonance – see what I did with the l’s at the start of this sentence?) but changing the phrase “fire in his belly” – which, being well-known, reads as “chutzpah” or “will” – to “fire in his flab” only serves to remind us that the author thinks David Cameron is fat.

To be absolutely clear: my response to this article has nothing to do with the politics of David Cameron – just like the repeated mentions of his perceived physical imperfections have nothing to do with the politics of David Cameron.

Apparently chubby, shapeless, ruddy flab (ew!) rather than knowledge and experience are the real measure of a leader.

Fat in the Media

There’s one thing I notice when reading the news that jars me more than dropping the Oxford comma or using non-words like “irregardless” – superfluous mentions of body size. The first flaw can be chalked up to lazy copyediting. The latter is more insidious. I find myself saving pieces to read aloud to my friends and family; holding up pieces of journalism and making sure I’m not the only ones who sees these jabs for cheap filler or non-news. It’s become an obsession.

With that, I bring you a new series:

Each week, I will bring you a new needless, fat-phobic comment from the news. Get excited!

For starters, Newsweek. Now, this is old news by now, but Wills and Kate got married. I know you care/don’t care/have moved on to Kim Kardashian’s epic nuptials, but comments from the Newsweek coverage of said wedding still irk me. Let’s examine:

Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, … is now on his about-to-be third wife and looked almost as relaxed and cheerfully overweight as Elton John. [emphasis added]

Mmkay, so we start off ragging on Earl Spencer for being almost-trice married. Perhaps matrimony’s not his bag. Don’t know, don’t care. What makes my teeth hurt is the end of that sentence where his weight is – rather needlessly – thrown in and we manage to rope in an insult to the Crocodile Rock-er. Well played, Newsweek.

“Cheerfully overweight” tells me nothing about Earl Spencer. Granted, I don’t care to know much about him, but his body size has absolutely zero relevance in the story – especially given that any space given to describing the Earl Spencer’s physical being is space not devoted to our new pretty, pretty Princess.

To the extent I care to read about something like the Royal Wedding in a news magazine (read: very little), I’d prefer to learn the facts and related sociopolitical ramifications. Reporting on the body size tells me more about the reporter than the reported.