Recently I was eating lunch with somebody and she told me a story. She started off by telling me: 'I did something naughty at work today'. That had me interested. Anyway, she had been hosting an event for work, and a woman kept on pressuring her to distribute some flyers about something or other she'd been putting together. They only exchanged one or two sentences in the whole evening, but my friend had got a distinctly aggressive vibe off this woman. The next day, the woman called to enquire about the flyers and a couple of minutes into the call surprised my friend by asking her 'do you eat anything?'. She continued to tell her that, not meaning to be rude but she was concerned for my friend's health and thought she ought to put on a few pounds, because she didn't look at all healthy, and it's important to eat, even if you want to be thin.
For a few moments my shocked friend floundered and replied with justifications of her weight, that she is very active, does lots of exercise, feels entirely comfortable at this size and, not that it was any of this woman's business, but she'd been going through a pretty hard time lately. Then came the 'naughty' line:
'Not meaning to be rude or anything, but you're probably carrying a few too many pounds, and although I genuinely understand that it may feel hard to lose weight, I'm of course only concerned for your health.'
Now there were a few moments silence before the woman burst into a thousand and one apologies for any offence she had caused and begging my friend to promise that she was forgiven. My friend accepted her apologies.
I was a little taken aback by my friend's confrontational response, but I suppose it really does highlight the point about criticising other people's weights. And it certainly worked, because it showed this woman (who apparently has a track record for such behaviour) that such comments really aren't acceptable. Of course, if you really are seriously concerned for a friend's health that is a different matter, but I find it hard to accept any other sort of comment as anything but false.
Look at the constant scrutiny of the weight of young female celebrities, such as Mischa Barton. 6 months ago her cellulite was splashed across gossip mag covers which are now displaying images of her dangerously thin and gaunt face. So it is evident that this sort of scrutiny has a forceful impact on its objects. And I can think of no other reason for it existing other than the jealousy of other women. Doesn't seeing that starlet having put on an ounce of weight give you just a teensy bit of sick satisfaction? Doesn't seeing her then looking strangely skeletal provoke a tiny spark of jealousy, which you then have to disguise with the correct amount of disapproval?
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the female sex as a whole really is deeply concerned about the collective weight of their fellow womenfolk. What do you say?