As a doctor I have to tell you that two of these models are too FAT to represent 'real women': Women wanting to see more 'wobbly bits' are promoting obesity, says this outspoken criticDr Ellie Cannon: 'It is utterly wrong… obesity has taken its place alongside ageing and differing skin colours.'' Two, if not three, are overweight, while the biggest girl is obese' the doctor claims
22:04 GMT, 27 October 2012
Posing confidently for the camera, they exude the magnetic appeal of demure, yet alluring coquettes.
The subliminal message shrieks that they are glamorous, glorious and – most importantly of all – real women who aren’t afraid to flaunt their flabby bits.
Who can but applaud, we are encouraged to believe, the recent spate of advertisements from the likes of M&S and Dove cosmetics in which stick-thin, taut and toned models have been rejected in favour of what are euphemistically known as ‘big’ girls
Marks & Spencer use models to promote the retailer's Sexy Shapewear range – Dr Ellie Cannon said some could be overweight while 'one was obese'
Taking the test: From left, Julia, Angela, Sarah, Melissa, Tracey and Monica gave their verdicts on the underwear after the advert stirred up controversy
The message is loud and clear: forget Twiggy and Myleene Klass, the former faces of all things fashionable, and instead embrace the woman you truly are, complete with your voluptuous curves and pudgy love handles.
At face value, it all sounds very encouraging.
Very ‘inclusive’, to coin a current buzz word. But hold on a minute, aren’t we rather ignoring the elephant in the room here (pardon the pun)
Fat, truth be told, is neither a feminist nor a cosmetic issue.
It is, quite simply, a health issue. And we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be steered into losing sight of that fact.
It may appear laudable, in our current politically correct climate, to claim that criticising the larger lady is just as despicable as taunting the disabled or discriminating against someone because of their age or origin.
But, frankly, it’s utterly wrong.
The fact is it is absolutely outrageous that, in an effort to illustrate the diversity of women, obesity has taken its place alongside ageing and differing skin colours.
Yes, these adverts have captured the notion of individuality beautifully, by using women in their 50s.
But including overweight – and therefore unhealthy – women in the mix is downright misguided, at best.
Too good to be true The Mail asked real women Julia, Angela, Monca and Melissa to put M&S slimming clothes to the test
Overweight The M&S models said to represent ordinary women, could be overweight according to the Dr
For example, in the M&S advert, for its Shapewear control underwear, which uses women from sizes eight to 16, I would say that, lovely as they all look, at least two, if not three, are overweight, while the biggest girl is obese.
Yet, when women took to Twitter to voice their response to the adverts, the majority complained the models were: ‘Too perfect, with too few wobbly bits.’
All too often celebrities such as the model Sophie Dahl or Nigella Lawson are touted as real women with real bodies.
But both have trimmed their figures (in Sophie’s case, by several stone) and say they are much happier having shed the flab.
Statistics show that the prevalence of obesity in the UK has tripled in the past 25 years but the fact it is now so common does not make it satisfactory or healthy.
It may seem unfair to criticise what is essentially a very common problem, but day-to-day as a GP I deal with the medical consequences of patients who are overweight.
Obesity makes a woman four times as likely to suffer with high blood pressure and three times as likely to suffer a heart attack.
According to the Department of Health, obesity costs the NHS a staggering 5.1billion a year.
I am really concerned by this trend of supposedly empowering women by what has become known as the ‘body acceptance movement’ which embraces the notion that fat is fine. While fat may be fine cosmetically, it is not fine for your health.
Body shape has been hijacked solely as a fashion issue, and as ammunition in the war of cool versus uncool.
Thus it is perceived as cruel and ‘size-ist’ to attack those who are fat.
I strongly condemn bullying, whether it be for personal appearance or any other reason, but what worries me is that the real health risks of obesity are being glossed over in an effort not to offend anyone.
Yet, at the same time, we are running around in circles trying to find the obesity solution in the food and fitness industries, as well as the pharmaceutical and medical fields.
While we readily criticise and ban smoking, junk food is still an acceptable vice and overeating is rapidly becoming the biggest eating disorder in the country. Indeed, compulsive overeating has recently been recognised in medical literature as a disorder in its own right.
There is an understandable backlash against the anorexic models the fashion industry has promoted for the past three decades.
The continuing use of ill-looking, skeletal models is shameful and rightly condemned.
We know from studies of anorexics that when they idolise and obsess over images of these very thin women, it exacerbates their illness and perpetuates their self-loathing and body dysmorphia.
Isn’t it just as irresponsible to promote the notion that being overweight is perfectly normal
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image was established in 2011 to challenge the growing trend in negative body image and they work with those such as the advertising industry to address this issue.
They have, for example, stopped the use of size zero models.
While this is admirable, we need to ensure that, by trying to sort out one problem, we don’t exacerbate another.
Given that a third of British women are overweight, it will do our teenage daughters no favours to normalise obesity.
Companies such as M&S have a firm place in the hearts of the public and in that respect they often mould opinions and shape our aspirations.
It is a shame they wasted a great opportunity to promote what is healthy.