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In Good Company: One Of The Pleasanter Aspects Of Life

"But why has society conditioned us to believe that thin is beautiful, I ask myself every time I see a meringue?'' mused columnist Enid Blackburn.

One of the pleasanter aspects of my life used to be eating. All my treats were edible. Fresh cream delights to jolly along my shopping sprees, long vigils in a certain chocolate cabin queue for my indulgence of assorted panaceas.

Luscious carbohydrate suppers, with vinegar soaked chip butties or savoury fry-ups to quell my non-maternal instincts after another teenage attack. Then there were the periods of rest, which round off this delightful occupation.

Ah yes – halcyon days, and it wasn’t the fear of heart disease that set me on the miserable road to thin-landia. I have always been prepared to take the consequence of my excesses and have no fancy for prolonged decrepitude. The biblical promise of three score years and ten sounds about right to me.

It was my crowning glory – vanity - which helped me to start this calorie cutting life sentence. I decided to have my perm removed and go straight.

My magazine clipping promised a wet-lipped wildly attractive short-cut, the result in the hairdresser’s mirror looked like my father’s RAF cut.

One can always depend on daughters for unbiased, honest, suicide-inducing opinions. My eleven-year-old ran down the garden path to give me hers. ‘Ooer, your head’s shrunk,’ was her first observation. Did she approve of shrunken heads? ‘It looks daft,’ was her second. ‘Your head looks too little,’ seemed to be the majority vote. My own feeling was, buy a big hat, or reduce my body to fit my head.

By refusing all things soothing; in-between snacks, second helpings, cakes and suppers for the last twelve months, I am now only one stone overweight for my height. I wear high heels and pretend I’m large boned and my clothes, usually at full stretch, fit comfortably now.

But why has society conditioned us to believe that thin is beautiful, I ask myself every time I see a meringue?

Once, fat meant affluence. Corpulent Lady Dowagers were the envy of the starving peasants. Reuben’s beauties were a heavy-thighed, full-bellied lot. Look around at the starch filled faces of the cuddlies, they all appear flawless and bonny, bubbling over with warmth and vitality. Dangerous observations for we ‘lifers’ on a permanent diet!

Even more harmful is a Radio 4 programme broadcast on Monday nights, ‘Fat guy on a bike.’ BBC producer Tom Vernon, 19 stones of cheerfully proud flesh is cycling and consuming his way around Italy in search of anecdotes, atmosphere, pasta and wine. This loveable dumpling believes thin is miserable and after one broadcast almost has me believing it too. Help!

A lot of my success is due to the demon nicotine. Being an after eight smoker, this has replaced the snack I usually take with my drinks.

And after 8pm eating is the scourge of the fuller figure. One theory blames the brown fat we keep at the back of our necks. If you don’t burn it quickly enough it blows you up. Weighing it all up – when you are fat you feel ugly – when you are thin you feel hungry!


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