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Toxic Narratives

Toxic Narratives

Toxic Narratives

The heading and article below have been written by Francis Ryan in The Guardian

Three cheers for Holly Willoughby’s refusal to talk about her diet

This short article is an example of argumentative writing on a current hot topic, useful preparatory reading for Higher Level English Paper One.

By not indulging the media’s toxic obsession with celebrities’ bodies, the This Morning presenter is showing that women are worth more than their weight

 “It’s not up to me to give you a blow-by-blow account of what I’ve eaten that day. It’s not helpful, and it’s not what’s important,” Holly Willoughby told the Sunday Times, presumably to the cheers of women everywhere.

The This Morning presenter’s weight loss last year was predictably picked over by the tabloids. And Willoughby is used to attention for how she looks – she shares her wardrobe with her 5 million Instagram followers daily. But she explained that the silence over the issue of her smaller frame has been intentional.

“I very deliberately don’t talk about it. Just because I don’t think it’s helpful to the conversation, for women generally,” she went on. “On this show I’ve sat across the sofa from mums and dads who’ve lost children to anorexia, or their children are currently going through it, and they sit there and say: ‘It doesn’t help that there’s such a fascination with weight at the moment.’”

The public certainly has an appetite for weight loss, and that isn’t exclusively a gender issue; the huge success of chef Tom Kerridge detailing how he lost 12 stone is proof of that. But it is undeniable that there is a particular obsession with women’s weight – and not in the healthy way someone such as Kerridge advocates. Despite the push back in recent years, the media still simultaneously paws over female celebrities who unveil their “improved bodies” while shaming others for “piling on the pounds”. Anyone who has ever seen an “ugly” photo of a famous woman daring to eat in public knows just how poisonous this gets.

Celebrities are often victims in this – no one wants to have their cellulite zoomed in on – but they are also free to decide how to respond. Just as the Kardashians choose to add to their millions by selling appetite suppressants and weight-loss teas to impressionable teenagers, others including Jameela Jamil are speaking out about the reality of Photoshopping.

Willoughby shows that it is within celebrities’ power to avoid playing this game – to say thin does not equal better and women are more than their weight. That toxic narrative is one thing none of us should feed.

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