25 June 2009

Fat activist is not a slur

An anonymous person has just described one of my posts as "self-promoting activist drivel." I was surprised to read the word activist as a slur because I think of it as an honourable way of being.

Well, mostly. Some fat activism is crap, some is racist, or poorly conceived and executed, or self-aggrandising. Some is frantic and exaggerated, I'm resisting the term hysterical because of its sexist connotations, but there it is, it can be overzealous too. Some is naïve and laughable, some is offensive. Sam Murray talks about activism being part of liberal humanist individualism, that it fails to acknowledge that people are constructed by their circumstances and can never escape them. I agree that this is a problem within some kinds of activism.

So the anonymous commenter is partly right, some activism is drivel. Anonymous thinks that my work is drivel, but I don't accept that because their comments are in the minority, no other critic has ever said that, and I hear from many people who tell me independently that my work is useful to them. I won't argue about being called obnoxious though, sometimes I am obnoxious.

Meanwhile, I want to restate why activism is not a slur.

We are part of the cultures that make us. We cannot step outside them. The idea that each one of us can make a difference is part of a political ideology popular in the US where a lot of fat activism originates. I don't know what kind of difference fat activism makes, if any, but doing something feels better than doing nothing. Mostly I think that existence is fairly meaningless, about trying to make the best of our short lives here as humans, so I see fat activism as a framework that adds meaning to some parts of my life, it's an embodied and intellectual challenge that's also a lot of fun, sometimes beautiful. Activism emboldens people to ask questions and not take things for granted, it encourages us to make human connections and to create communities of kinship and resistance. Activism is part of the bedrock of fat culture. These are some of the reasons why I'm proud to be an activist and why I don't consider it an insult.

The dead, gay, kinky and academically-popular French philosopher Michel Foucault helps me think about this. He talks about power not being a monolithic entity but almost like a dance that plays out between people, organisations and things. He says that resistance occurs where power is enacted, that those upon whom power is enacted are in a good position to resist because they have intimate knowledge of the nature of that power, and that opportunities for resistance are always present. So although we are created and constructed, and the way we see and do things depends on the contexts in which we live, it is also possible that we have individual and collective agency, the ability to act. I really like this, it reminds me that activism is about hope in otherwise hopeless situations. If that's not a reason for living then I don't know what is. Here's the reference if you'd like to read this yourself: Foucault, M. (1980) 'Power and Strategies' in Foucault, M., ed. Power/Knowledge, Brighton: The Harvester Press, 134-145.

I should address the self-promoting part of Anonymous' comment. I am self-promoting because I want my work to be heard, especially with regards to situations where I am silenced and misrepresented as a fat person. I want to talk about fat-related things in an open way, hence this blog. I love to talk and think about fat, it is a fascinating subject. Unlike Anonymous I also write in my own name because I think it is important to be accountable and to be a visible person doing this work. This is the same reason why I refused a pseudonym for my first novel. Facing the possibility of criticism is not always easy, but I believe it is a big part of working with integrity.

But I also see myself as part of a really big and popular movement, one that does not begin and end with me. Fat activism is not a one-woman show. I honour the people and organisations who came before me, and want to support other people working in the field, I am interested in the social change that mass movements can engender. I am as much a speck on the face of the earth as anybody else working for this kind of change and I am comfortable with that.

PS Anonymous, it is ok if you or anyone else would like to start a dialogue with me, to talk about our differences, to listen to each other respectfully. We can do that, either here or by email. I could then rectify my position so that it is at least less drivelsome. But insulting me anonymously and then running away does not cut it.

24 June 2009

I still get fatphobic street harassment

You might want to listen to Lou Reed's mighty Street Hassle whilst you are reading this. Multimedia experience!

Until this week I was under the mistaken belief that I rarely if ever got street hassle these days for being fat because I exude rad fatty confidence. It used to happen in the past, but not now.

This is a ridiculous belief because it carries an assumption that the kind of creeps who try to get in your face are able to make a distinction between fat people's relative levels of self-confidence. It also supports a blame-the-victim mentality: crushed by fatphobia in the street? It's your own fault, you should be stronger! I think confidence can help, but it can also make you a target, and really, the kinds of people who say horrible things to you, or spit at you, or whatever are likely to do this no matter what you do to avoid it.

Anyway, my self-delusion about street hassle was challenged this week because I've been the target in two incidents. Just now a 'phobe/narrow fuck rode at Kay and I on his bike and demanded we get out of his way, with a bit of added fatty-bashing name-calling. We were too surprised to block his way and shove him off his bicycle, which is a terrible shame.

The other incident took place last week. I noticed a guy wanting to get our attention as I walked with C to Stratford Station, and on the way back he spotted me again and made a beeline for me. I thought he was a christian trying to convert me, that happens a lot in that part of my neighbourhood, but no, he had some flyers for some kind of weight loss thing he was selling and wanted to give me one. He looked desperate and I guess he was zoning in on any fat person that walked past, lucky them. I kept walking and said no, but I was shocked by the intrusion, concerned about how it might affect other people, and eaten up with unrealised revenge fantasies as I walked home. I felt interfered with when I had done nothing to invite it. It didn't ruin my day, but it was an irritation.

So I'm wondering why this has happened now, after a long period, years, where I have either had little street hassle, or where I haven't even noticed or remembered it happening. Is this one of the effects of the Global Obesity EpidemicTM? Maybe the moral panic around fat makes people feel okay about being arseholes. Have other readers of this blog noticed any changes in the kind and level of street hassle you deal with? Might it correlate with the fat panic epidemic?

It made me think of how I deal with this kind of interference. I ignore it as much as I can because I think those who do it are trying to get a rise out of you and I don't want to play that game. On other occasions, where I've been with other fatties, we've been able to laugh and ridicule the harasser Chubster-style, which is pretty satisfying. I remember reading about a guy who agreed with the harassers when they yelled at him in the street, like: "I'm a fat bastard? Yes, thanks, I am!" I like that, responding to hatred with humour. What are your strategies?

23 June 2009

Research: excluding fat people from the conversation

It is quite usual, de rigueur actually, for conferences and gatherings about obesity to feature thin or normal-sized experts (yeah, 'normal' is problematic, but you know what I mean) and no or very few fat people. I'm not talking about no or very few fat people behind the lectern, I mean anywhere.

A conference about disability where disabled people are not central to the proceedings is not ok. Neither is a gathering about race or sexuality where minority ethnic or queer people are required to sit in the audience and listen politely whilst a bunch of white or straight experts tell them that their lives are worthless. This is insulting and patronising and also ludicrous. These events still happen, but they are more likely to be regarded as unsuccessful and profoundly flawed than panels that exclude fat people. Not so in the world of the obesity expert!

I attended two gatherings this week, ostensibly about obesity (yeah, another flawed concept), where fat people were in the minority, and where we were spoken about in profoundly gross ways. I want to distinguish these events from meetings such as those sponsored by groups with a vested (and commercially-sponsored) interest in eradicating obesity, such as those organised by the Association for the Study of Obesity, or the National Obesity Forum, for example. What I'm talking about are gatherings that are presumed to be neutral, inquiring and scholarly investigations onto the experiences of being fat.

Body Image: The Impact of Magazines was an event at The Women's Library was a panel event featuring Deanne Jade from the National Centre for Eating Disorders, Dr Vivienne Nathanson the head of Science and Ethics at The British Medical Association and Susie Orbach, who is promoting her new book. There is a tepid write-up of the event on The F Word, although Corinna's comment at the bottom is spot-on.

As another commenter remarked, nothing much was said, although all three speakers reiterated that the obesity epidemicTM is a serious problem, about which Something Must Be Done. To me the talk, which really amounted to a lot of hot air, reiterated the failures of feminism to address fatness. Not all feminism, of course, some of the early fat liberation activists were feminists and incorporated a dynamic feminist vision into their work. What I mean is feminism that approaches fat through eating disorders, an assumption that fatness is inherently pathological, that conflates fat with 'body image,' blames 'the media' for everything that is bad in the world, and promotes a kind of hand-wringing helplessness about the ills of modern society. Corinna and I were more or less the only two fatties in the crowded room, and we felt the rage. The Women's Library appears to be an island of privileged middle class white academic feminism within a largely poor and ethnically rich neighbourhood and, like many events at this venue, this was another wasted opportunity to enliven a tired and stale discourse.

Nathanson's smug appreciation for Change4Life – a fatphobic health campaign in the UK, and a project she helped produce – kind of foreshadowed the self-congratulatory atmosphere amongst the obesity experts at Size Matters? Please note I'm going to leave out the question mark because it's just confusing and the conference clearly believes that fat is a serious problem rather than a question. But I will say that Size Matters is a conference organised by the Centre For Appearance Research (CAR) at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Speakers included Nichola Rumsey, Andrew Hill, Michael Gard, Lucy Aphramor, Jeremy Gauntlett-Gilbert, Jane Ogden, Meredith Jones. That's four professors, two doctors, one double-barrelled posho and one civilian. All thin, 'normal' or athletic. Only Aphramor, who also happens to be one of my PhD supervisors, was explicit in her support for size acceptance and made reference to her own thin privilege. There is not the time or space to present a detailed discussion of all the presentations here but I have a few comments.

I used to think that Tim Lang was the most odious creep in the world of professional upholders of fat hatred, he helped produce the Foresight report on obesity that has fuelled the current wave of government-sponsored fatphobia in the UK, and epitomises academic arrogance and entitlement. Having been to Size Matters I think he might have been toppled from his throne by Professor Andrew Hill and Dr Jeremy Gauntlett-Gilbert, two men who are so disturbingly slimy and repellent that I had to look away from them as they were presenting.

Both tried to appropriate Aphramor's work on Health At Every Size, and there was certainly some sexist or heterosexist subtext to that, yet both were unable to address their own deep-seated assumptions about what it is to be fat. Hill was outright rude, supercilious and thoughtless. When Jones referred to a comment made by a research participant who referred to weight loss surgery as being like an internal policeman, Hill blurted out jokingly: "A chocolate policeman!" referring to the idea of fat people as insatiable eaters, even after surgery. Has he no idea what weight loss surgery is actually like? His extreme lack of empathy, which may easily be a hatred of fat people, was evident in the way he presented evidence about fatphobic marginalisation and discrimination, he seemed to enjoy it and not consider how it might feel for fat people in the audience to see their lives reflected so terribly in statistics, illustrated by photographs of headless and tragic fatties. He dismissed Gard's thoughtful presentation about how the Obesity Epidemic is overstated with a snarky comment about people who deny climate change. He was equally dismissive of fat activism, saying that nothing exists in the UK, that NAAFA was weak, had "pissed off most obesity researchers" and that he suspected he may have been blacklisted by them. No shit, Sherlock!

Aphramor and many others dispute the scientific evidence connecting fat and ill-health but Dr Jeremy appealed to the audience with an entitled: "It's got to be right, hasn't it, really?" enunciated so persuasively in the Queen's English. Dr J's conviction that his (classed, gendered, racialised, etc) perspective is sensible, correct, and just plain right regardless of any pesky evidence, as well as his uncritical faith in a model that is plainly wrong, is not enough for me to be on-side, though the delegation of women seemed to lap it up, maybe they have a thing for guys like him. I was out of the room when he said something flippant and insulting about weight loss surgery, thank god, which is horrifying when you consider that he assesses people for weight loss surgery for a living.

Ogden was the most disappointing speaker of the day. Although she sold-out fat people in her book critiquing dieting in the early 1990s, that work was nevertheless useful at the time. I hoped she might have reconsidered her position during the intervening years, but she has not, she is worse, and not only that but she is ill-informed. Her slide of a gastric band depicted a banded gastroplasty instead. Someone in the audience who has had a gastric band pointed this out but you'd think Ogden would know the difference between weight loss surgeries, being a professor, an expert in the field.

I don't think that you have to be fat to be able to say intelligent things about fat people or fat experience, there are people within the Fat Studies community for example who are not at all fat. What they have is empathy and respect for fat people, a capacity for self-reflection, a commitment to social change. They support other fat scholars, they use their power and privilege to include us (and let us remember that if you are fat you are also likely to be of a lower socio-economic position, so we should recognise that power and privilege permeates fat people's entry and status within academia, and elsewhere), and they are not interested in building careers that denigrate fat people. This should be the baseline from which fat research takes place, but it is not, indeed most obesity researchers, including those I saw speak this week, are so alien to this kind of ethical position that they don't even recognise that they themselves are part of the problem, they truly believe that they represent the solution, that they are the good guys.

When fat people are absent from events such as Body Image: The Impact of Magazines and Size Matters, we are abstracted and made Other. No wonder Ogden referred to fat people as "those people" throughout her presentation. At The Women's Library talk there were veiled references made to a fat Other who was working class and therefore ignorant. At Size Matters it was clear that fat people exist as passive, pitiful, and grateful sites for intervention by the experts and professors mouthing off. As a fat person the effect was of having a disgustingly and disastrously distorted version of your life thrown back at you over and over again.

Furthermore, it would be naïve to think that such for a could be places where fat people could speak up and be heard, or be able to challenge the proceedings. Who on those panels would be able to listen to somebody who they have already stereotyped and dehumanised? Why would any fat person speak up when they cannot guarantee that their words will be understood or supported? Why would a fat person speak truth to power when they have already internalised the fat hatred in the room, or have felt traumatised by it? Why should the people being bashed by the discussions be the ones presumed to be responsible for fixing the problem? Hence there is silence.

This week I have come away from both Body Image: The Impact of Magazines and Size Matters feeling grateful to my bones for my own communities. As Dr Jeremy Gauntlett-Gilbert guffed about on stage I blocked him out of my mind and remembered Apple Hard turning a cartwheel at the first Chubsters workshop at NOLOSE 2004. I thought about the Fat Studies events I've been to recently, how exciting they are. I remembered my excellent friend Max Airborne, a freak of the best kind. I thought about Devra Polack high-kicking in a catsuit, Kelli Dunham talking about medical self-advocacy, my partner's belly poking out from under her t-shirt. I thought about the books and the work that has sustained me and continues to inspire me, and which provides the answers to the basic questions on which people at Size Matters and The Women's Library seem to stumble. Thank you, fatties! It made me both long for visibility and recognition, the hope that some day this radical envisioning of fat will be mainstream, as well as a desire to protect it from people like Andrew Hill, who would inevitably cock it up.

Meanwhile, conference organisers, please start inviting fat people to speak at your events, please get smart about the alternative discourses that are available through Fat Studies, learn about fat activism (and no, this doesn't mean that Dove campaign) and make a commitment to stop supporting, funding, and creating platforms for fatphobia in the academy and in the world. People want to hear new and radical stuff, it is popular, people love to engage with it, it is life-affirming. Your conferences will be memorable and inspiring if you take this leap, exciting work will come of it. You will be happier.

16 June 2009

How the fashion world treats Beth Ditto

I find it hard to write about Beth Ditto. You'd think it would be easy, she's the epitome of rad fatness in so many ways, not just as a singer in a great band but in the way she uses her voice to put fat (and other stuff too) right at the heart of things. She speaks up beautifully to a mass audience without preaching and she does it with style and equanimity.

Beth's path and my own have crossed a few times, mostly long ago, and she is friends with some of my friends. I love her and feel protective of her, I want the best for her, I am one of many people who feel this way. Sometimes I find it hard to think about her achievements because they are so far beyond what anyone (or maybe just me) would expect for a radical fat dyke, she has truly pushed the envelope, who will follow or better her? Could that even happen? Beth enables people whose dreams have been robbed from them to dream big. Kids may be growing up during a war on fat, but they are also witness to Beth as a powerful role model, and this gives me a lot of hope for the future. My generation had next to nothing.

For these reasons, it feels difficult and disloyal writing about her here, but as I write I realise that it's not Beth that I'm writing about but the circus that surrounds her. Carrie Brownstein, the music blogger and ex-Sleater-Kinney guitarist, a thrilling role model in her own right, helped me realise this today with her excellent post about the British media's consumption of Beth, Beth Ditto: Eaten Alive. Reading this post I felt reassured that Beth herself is sovereign, and in a funny way it's not her that we should be looking at, it's the reactions she inspires.

Some of these reactions include the rush by the fashion industry to appropriate her. I used to wonder who was playing who, but now I think that Beth is just being her own sweet self as usual. It's nothing to do with her that she represents everything execrable to high fashion – that shit is not her fault! – she puts herself in that milieu and of course those fashion people are going to go crazy! Why wouldn't they? They're the ones who have really helped create this mess.

But instead of accepting that Beth might mean that all fat people can be as cool, everyday and incredible as anyone, something they've refused to consider, the fashion world has responded to Beth by trying to turn her into a Magical Fatty. Like the racist Magical Negro, oppressors use this exceptional and mystical figure to help them feel better about themselves. Thus arch fatphobe and diet book author Karl Lagerfeld feels no inhibition about cosying up to Beth, her mere proximity absolves him of any sin. Beth is special, she's amazing, but in this context she is Special, a state that tries to strip her of humanity.

With this in mind, it's no surprise that the things that have been bugging me about Beth recently are the things that relate to the way that the fashion world is trying to represent her and her body. First it was Katie Grand's Love magazine shoot. Beth's nipples were airbrushed from the cover, she was mostly nude in all of the pictures and she looked ghostly and unreal, far unlike the sweaty pumping presence she is onstage, where she inhabits her body completely.

Which brings me to the Evans doll version of Beth, which is being used to promote the range of clothes that her name is being used to sell this coming summer. I hate this doll and I am suspicious of the clothes. Where a fat body has movement, flesh, bumps and rolls, this doll is hard and smooth. The Beth-doll's breasts look stuck on, like an afterthought on a thin frame, the thin body that resides within every fat person perhaps. The doll has Barbie-style legs, nothing like Beth's own chunks. It has flinty, cold facial features. It creeps me out. And Evans sells shitty quality, poorly-fitting clothes at premium prices to a pretty-much captive consumer-base. The mark-up between manufacturing and sales price must be beyond belief, and I can't bear to think what the people who make this stuff are paid. Will the range named after Beth be any different?

I could go on about this at length but I won't. My point is that the fashion world and its related media are trying to appropriate Beth but they don't really know what to do with her. They're trying to fit her into stale formats (crappy plus-size fashion) and, as Carrie Brownstein points out, they cannot get over their own projections of fatphobia. Beth's circus is trying to make something of her and it is entirely ill-equipped to do so. Those people don't know how. The thing is that Beth doesn't need doing-to, she's fine as she is, she's magnificent, and we should remember this because we too don't really need doing-to by rubbish experts who apparently know better, who want to fix us, sell to us, improve us, or make us into dolls, or render us Magical.

09 June 2009

Fatness First, fat activism appropriation and ambiguity

My partner saw someone wearing this t-shirt in our neighbourhood this week. Obviously it's a parody of the Fitness First gym trademark. The guy wearing it wasn't fat and I don't know why he was wearing the shirt, maybe he enjoyed the subversion of a globalised gym culture brand? Maybe he's a culture jammer? An Adbuster? Who knows!

Anyway, I did a little digging about the t-shirt because I was curious and I found out via 5 Non-Gringos that the tshirt project in the Philippines manufactures a load of spoof designs, including the Fatness First one.

I don't get some of the jokes in the designs, maybe they are in local slang or I'm not tuned in to the parodies that relate to sex and drinking. However, I love the idea that, in a country where a significant part of the population is employed/oppressed by these globalised brands and corporations, some people are exploiting those very same meaningless brands by parodying them, localising them and selling them on. Maybe this is a case of the sweatshop biting back.

At least four of the designs are about fat and I think they're pretty good! I doubt these have been produced as some kind of pro-fat statement, the shirt sizes are limited (xxl for men and only xl for women) so it's unlikely that they were made for fatties to wear, more likely for normative-sized people to wear as a fat joke of some kind. But I think the spoofs are ambiguous and could be read through a fat lib kind of lens, in fact I support the appropriation of fatphobic symbols by rad fatties, though I think we should be careful to avoid some kinds of cultural appropriation. I would love to see a big fat person mooching down the street with a shirt that proclaimed Tummy Illfigure, The Fat and The Furious, or especially Fatman.

08 June 2009

Review: Longing for Recognition

I've just finished reading Jacqui Gingras' extraordinary book, Longing for Recognition: The Joys, Complexities, and Contradictions of Practicing Dietetics and I want to share a few thoughts about it.

First, here's a declaration of interest: my PhD involves some of the themes in this book, my co-supervisor is one of Gingras' associates, and some of my work is to be published by Raw Nerve later this year.

Longing for Recognition is an autoethnography (my crap definition: a social study of a group of people where the person doing the study is included and central to the research rather than a remote observer) presented as fiction. It is based on Gingras' own research into dietetic culture and teaching in Canada, where she is a dietician. Dietetics is of interest to fat people and fat activists because, amongst other reasons, it is the place where medically-sanctioned weight loss attempts occur, and where dominant medical beliefs about fatness are transmitted between expert and patient/consumer/client/passive recipient of superior medical knowledge.

The book follows the stories of a group of people involved in teaching and learning dietetic practice, it explores the way that people are socialised into dietetics. This broad group of people includes Jacqui herself, her partner and baby, an academic manager, a lecturer, various dietetic colleagues, students, and their families and friends. The chapters are arranged around the curriculum of an imaginary course on the social, theoretical and ethical considerations of dietetic practice, but also include accounts of supervision sessions between dieticians facilitated by a psychotherapist; coffeeshop meetings between friendly colleagues; letters written to academic s/hero Judith Butler; poems; accounts of clinical encounters. Using this framework, Gingras is able to give an incredibly rich portrayal of a time and a place and to discuss some of the nuanced implications of dietetic practice which, as we see through our encounters with the characters, are infinitely contingent.

Longing for Recognition investigates dietetic teaching and culture from different perspectives, not just theoretical ways of seeing, for example through an imaginary dialogue with poststructuralism, but also through the filters that participants bring. In this way Gingras is able to address an abundance of themes with great complexity, such as: the university tenure system, work/life balance, considering Health At Every Size, working ethically within unethical systems, teaching methods, emotional aspects of health practice, relationships, race, motherhood and more. It asks of its subjects: what should we be teaching? What is dietetics about? How can we work with people sensitively and appropriately? These questions are surely relevant to other health professions and, whilst reading this book, I was often reminded of my own training as a counsellor/psychotherapist.

Whilst fiction enables Gingras to make central what might be hidden or marginal in more traditional texts, the quality of that fiction is not always as strong as the quality of the research. The characters are earnest and somewhat anodyne, they lack edges that would make them more compelling in traditional fiction, and this (Canadian?) earnestness leads to some unintentional humour, there's a lot of herbal tea drinking, hugging and dodgy fashion going on, for example, and some of the psychotherapeutic interventions during the supervision scenes are somewhat preposterous. I suppose these issues beg the question of whether one reads this book as a novel, and judges it against the standards that one might judge a novel, or if one suspends that kind of judgment and relates to Longing for Recognition as a different kind of read altogether.

Nevertheless, Gingras' bold and experimental writing up of her research is inspiring in itself. One of my fears about the academy is that it turns thinking, feeling, complicated people into scholarly sausage-meat capable only of reiterating formulaic arguments or products. Gingras shows that this need not be the case, although her excellent, probing and brave work exposes the tired nature of too much academic research. I am also grateful that Gingras is able to present this complexity in an accessible fashion without losing any of the detail or patronising her readers.

Speaking of reading, Gingras includes an appendix of all the readings that the fictional lecturer assigns her class. This may make me sound a bit sad but I think it would be fun to re-read Longing for Recognition as though one was a student in the class, joining in with the readings and discussions with the characters. Such an activity suggests that this is a book that has wider possibilities, that it could take on a life beyond paper and pages, and create exciting new dialogues between readers, authors, teachers, students, colleagues, thinkers, activists and practitioners.

Gingras, J. R. (2009) Longing for Recognition: The Joys, Complexities, and Contradictions of Practicing Dietetics. York: Raw Nerve Books

www.rawnervebooks.co.uk

05 June 2009

Anti-obesity campaigns: industry is a magnet for abusers

Readers of this blog might recall posts about LighterLife and TOAST, first-class purveyors of sleaze and slimming. Now Slim-Fast is ready to join that hallowed roll because one of their celebrity spokes-slimmers (no, not Whoopi Goldberg) has just been handed a four-year sentence for child abuse. That's one year for each of the four years that Barry Bethel sexually abused a minor.

It's a shame that Bethel's conviction for child abuse involves the real-life misery of a real-life girl because otherwise I'd be happy to crow about the apparent yet not entirely surprising relationship between sleaze and the diet industry.

Interestingly, Slim-Fast dumped Goldberg in 2004 for making a sexual joke about George W. Bush at a Democratic Party fundraiser. The company have made no such public statements to distance themselves from Bethel, although it's true that his ad spots were in the 1990s so maybe the company has selective amnesia that they ever employed him. Perhaps it's perfectly acceptable in Diet Land to have a convicted child abuser as a weight loss role model shilling your product and, despite his conviction, Bethel's kept the weight off - good man!

By the way, Unilever, who own Slim-Fast and a million other of your favourite brands, make a €40 billion annual profit.

This post is brought to you with apologies for its unfettered cynicism.