In his appallingly written, unintentionally sad piece for Esquire, Giles Coren manages to out himself as the world’s worst dad. Before you have a chance to delve in to the article, the title: “I don’t care what my child becomes… as long as they’re not fat” lets you know that this piece isn’t going to contain any sort of rational argument or care for his child. Straight away we’re greeted with two happy pictures of a father and son, and a perfectly horrible description of his son, where Coren describes his son as “r*tarded” and “fat”. Forgetting the ableism pulled straight from 1975, I’m a little bit worried for a completely new reason at this point. If Giles Corens’ son is actually fat, who are these pictures of? Whose child is he hugging and throwing in the air?
By this point we can assume that Giles Coren is not only abusive toward his son who by all accounts is not overweight, but possibly in need of a new prescription on his glasses. Next we’re greeted with caricature style descriptors of fat people, and a genuinely terrifying declaration of “I’d kill them all”. Coren then goes on to gallantly argue for the saviour of the NHS with the murder of all fat people, before stating that he doesn’t care if his children become alcoholics or drug addicts. Without demonising either of these issues, alcohol and drugs cause a lot of problems with health, which in turn probably cost the NHS a similar amount of money. Why does he care anyway? Being rich enough to send your kids to private school must mean you pay for private healthcare? I digress.
Further on, Giles reveals how he imagines his daughter growing up, saying he doesn’t mind if she becomes overweight because “well, there are uses for a fat woman”. We’re reminded of the extremely worrying way Giles talks about his daughter in previous articles, where he describes staring at her like the “dippiest lover” and how the holiday the two of them had alone was the “sexiest” he’d ever had. Alarm bells.
So. Why was this utterly shambolic, disgrace to the art of writing, abusive, fatphobic, borderline perverted piece hosted on one of the country’s biggest magazine websites? It’s not surprising that a magazine named after a title of an antiquated social system hosts this bollocks, but the fact that these magazines in general are permitted to thrive in a supposedly enlightened society makes me wonder. Why is it when child suicide rates are at a 14 year high, a shocking rise in self harm has been reported, that we as a society allow people like Giles Coren to keep feeding in to the culture that is stealing the lives of 4 young people a week? Children are hurting themselves for a multitude of reasons, but self image and self esteem are at the top of the list, and I know from personal experience.
When did we decide that the dehumanisation of fat people was an acceptable way to make a living?
Fatphobia has a wealth of intersections that make it such an important topic to address, the fact that unhealthy food is cheaper and easier to make means that people living in poverty or those with mental health issues are more likely to be overweight. The fact that poverty and mental health issues are more prevalent in BME communities means that anti-fatness runs deeper in to issues of racism and classism that people like the aforementioned terrible dad of the year seem to forget. And while the author is overt in his hatred for disabled people, the more covert fatphobia in prevalent in our society society helps to marginalise and oppress fat and disabled people. There are so many reasons for being fat, some people physically cannot exercise, some have eating disorders, some people cant afford to eat healthily and some people actually just enjoy being fat. What a strange thought! Some people are perfectly fine with being overweight. Just the same as some people are perfectly okay to accept the health risks that come with alcohol, cigarettes, eating meat, living in a city etc. All of which is fine. One of the things I like about being a human is autonomy over my own body. What isn’t okay however is someone propelling hate speech against a certain demographic that they don’t find attractive enough to consider human.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever have kids, but what I do know is, somewhere in the very distant future, that I’d want my hypothetical children to be kind above all else. I’d want them to value themselves beyond their looks, and to gain self worth from making the world a better place to exist. I’d be horrified if my child grew up to get a sense of self through making others want to end their lives. Its then I’d know I’d failed as a parent.