Miriam Margolyes is looking at why we in the UK are getting fatter.
We were left at the close of episode 1 of Miriam’s Big Fat Adventure with the question of whether it’s possible to be fat and happy.
Episode 2 is all about extremes. What some of us will do in pursuit of perfection.
A short cut:
We meet 28 years old Jess who a year ago had weighed 23 stone. After losing 7 stone herself, she was then eligible for bariatric surgery. It’s a life-changing decision. She would have a stomach the size of an egg. She is convinced that to become the person she feels she truly is; weight loss is essential.
There is criticism that such operations, which cost between £5000 – £8000, should not be done on the NHS. With 6 billion pounds a year in Britain spent on obesity-related illness, the question of fatness is not just personal, its financial. Are fat people taking too big a slice of our health budget?
For me, the idea of this kind of surgery is out of the question. I think it would be utterly miserable to spend the rest of my life eating only from very restricted food groups and in minute portions. Where’s the joy in that? Where’s the comfort? But joy and the temporary comfort in food has got me into the mess I’m in now! A woman who feels not only defined by her weight but burdened, worn down and defeated by it.
Short cut No 2:
Plastic surgery. Miriam has a consultation with a private plastic surgeon and has a 3D image taken of her as she is now and of how she could look with extensive liposuction. She finds the images very uncomfortable.
I, like many women, avoid looking at myself in the mirror. Going to the hairdressers is an experience I don’t enjoy. There I am, brightly lit and reflected in all my substantial lack-of glory. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. And don’t even get me started on shopping for clothes.
Miriam rejects the idea of plastic surgery. Too brutal. To literally carve up one’s body to fit an image of perfection. No. And I’m with her on this. I found it interesting, that the plastic surgeon himself, admitted that patients so often have unrealistic expectations and that there’s a limit to what can be achieved. Patients want to look like one of the Kardashians. And the truth is, not even the K sisters themselves looks like The Kardashians. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors involved. Oh, and filtering.
Miriam attends a Body-Building Competition in Wales and there’s a lovely moment in the dressing room where a number of mahogany-painted hairless men in thongs are flexing and pumping themselves up before going out on stage to be judged. Miriam sits behind one of them as he bends over. The look on her face is priceless!
Asking some of these chaps about their extreme body sculpturing and whether it’s worth all the time and effort, in some cases to the point of obsession, their response is an emphatic Yes. It makes them feel good about themselves. And I suppose, there’s no arguing with that. But I do question if, long-term, they are chasing an unattainable dream.
We meet Jess again, months after her bariatric surgery and she’s lost in total half her body weight. There’s no denying that she looks great. And is she happy? Asks Miriam. Yes, Jess says but she now wants a tummy tuck and breast augmentation and… her mission to achieve her personal vision of perfection is clearly not over.
To transform your life is it necessary to transform your body? For some of us, that’s the only answer. But is it? I have yo-yoed dramatically in weight and I’m not sure that I ever really felt any different about myself. 6 stone lighter and looking pretty damn good, I was still the same person, riddled by the same insecurities, beset by the same demons. But I have to admit, buying a dress for wedding or a special occasion was a hell of a lot easier.
Miriam closes her adventure by reflecting that to feel confident and loved is the most important thing in life. She has a partner, friends and a remarkably successful career. She has a lot to feel confident about. And blessed.
Whether her attitude to her body has undergone a significant change through her experience of making this programme, I’m not sure. Maybe she’s found some form of acceptance. For her sake, I hope so. But I haven’t. I have a feeling that My Adventure in this, an investigation in to one of the most important areas of my life, has only just begun.
I’d love you to join me as I carry on with my own investigation in to why I’m food obsessed and why I feel such shame about it. To do so, subscribe to my blog here: