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It's not who you are but the shape you're in that counts Carole Ann Rice.

Byline: Carole Ann Rice

Hello, my name is Carole Ann and I'm a recovering thin person. Phew, that was one of the toughest things I think I've ever had to write.

For as far as confessionals go it's easier to admit to thoughts about getting naked with Jeremy Clarkson or to liking Steps records than admit to having lost it on the hourglass front.

Some may find it easier to admitting to racism or cross-dressing than to breaking the cardinal sin of the 21st century. I am fat. There I've said and done the unthinkable.

I am fat - not in a 'let's pretend I'm large so that I can get lots of compliments from people telling me I'm a beanpole' sort of fat, but a chunky, don't get many of those to the pound, more rolls than Starkey's unequivocal sort of fat.

In reality it's not so much a millstone around my neck but 14 pounds of stubborn lard around my middle, a parting gift from popping out two children in quick succession.

But in an age where youth is worshipped and your waist size in inches is worth more than a three digit IQ, I am beginning to see the benefits of the candor and yashmac.

Everyone can sympathise but few can say with hand on cellulite that they ignore it. It's a national obsession.

Just look at the Duchess of York dangerously initiating her two, healthy daughters into that most pointless of all female neuroses - Guess The Calorie Content.

It used to be that mothers passed on wise words about first dates and tips on wearing clean drawers in case of accidents. But now they teach them how to guess the calorific value of a prawn cracker at ten paces.

And the sad thing is most of us do know the fat units, kilojoules and carb content of our grub with the same shameful semi-autistic efficiency of a trainspotter on acid.

We have developed a fear and loathing of fat.

Newspaper headlines were as much concerned about the bloated guts and tattooed beer bellies exposed by the lager lout hooligans at the Euro 2000 matches this year as the xenophobic language and rioting our countrymen exhibited.

And if you haven't seen the new Reebok advert you're in for a treat as a breathless man runs for his life pursued by a giant beer belly, complete with navel and tummy hairs, which blobs after him like a mutated but frighteningly more believable scene from cult television series The Prisoner.

All the while the menacing chant 'belly's gonna get ya' sounds like the voice of our conscience.

I laughed so much I nearly split my seams.

Just six months ago the Government held a Thin Summit where Tessa Jowell urged magazine editors to use realistically proportioned models on their fashion pages.

And what has happened? A big obese zero that's what, because thin, just like sex, sells.

But can fat be sexy? Since increasing, my, er, knowledge of the subject I like to think it can. Yet I can think of few fat sexy people.

Quite a few of my friends are Fat Sexy and then there is James Gandolfini, who plays Tony in The Sopranos who is Fat Sexy on loafers. He makes Ricky Martin look like a pigeon-chested mommy's boy such is his sexual weightiness.

But the sad fact remains that it's not who you are it's the shape you're in that counts these days and I have to confess I'm in great shape. After all round is a shape.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 28, 2000
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