Tabloids and newspapers are obsessed with weight and dieting. Ooh look, he's put on a few pounds... ooh no, she's a bit chubby. The Mail isn't as ferociously evil as those garishly-coloured disgraces of women's magazines, but it likes to have a piece of the action anyway.
Today it runs a story about Fern Britton suffering from nervous exhaustion and not being able to turn up to work - but fails to mention a week of some of the most vitriolic nastiness in newspaper history. And for why? The woman had a gastric band operation to lose weight.
The Mail's website has an excellent archive, by the way. Let's have a look at some of the headlines about Fern Britton to see what sort of coverage she's received at the hands of the caring, woman-friendly Mail...
Fern Britton and Eamonn Holmes reunited after 15 years (and, my, how they've grown)
Little Britton: Fresh-faced Fern before she piled on the pounds
Fern Britton's Ashes to Ashes moment: 80s flashback to when she was thin enough to dance in a skintight leotard
How the incredible shrinking Fern became little Britton
Little Britton: TV’s Fern continues her incredible shrinking act
Oh Fern! Why DID you have to fib about your gastric band?
By AMANDA PLATELL All By This Author - 03/06/2008 01:03:25
Weight a minute... Is that really Fern?
Little Britton finally tells the truth: 'I DID have weight-loss surgery
By SARA MCCORQUODALE All By This Author - 01/06/2008 20:53:06
Who do you think you are kidding, Fern?
By AMANDA PLATELL All By This Author - 14/09/2005 07:54:03
Dieting? I'd rather be fat and jolly, laughs Fern
Two things to notice. Firstly, the Mail subs never get tired of the 'Little Britton' pun. It's a cracker. Secondly, that vile sow Amanda Platell's been sticking the boot in. Firstly a couple of years back when Fern said she was happy to be 'fat and jolly' and now recently when she lost weight.
Platell back in 2005:
There cannot be a woman in this country who has ever stepped on a pair of scales who does not sympathise with Fern Britton's battle of the bulge.
Interviewed about her weight and about pictures taken of her in a bikini on holiday, Fern maintained this week she had nothing to worry about - that her size was not an issue.
Well, I'm sorry but that's simply not true. Fern's weight is an issue - a big issue. It's putting her health in danger and jeopardising the future of her family. That's not just my view, it's what her own doctors have told her.
Ah, the textbook 'I'm sorry but' bullshit. Did Allison Pearson have to teach you to write that one, Platell? Or did you make that one up all by yourself? You vicious contemptible old bitch.
Alas, Fern is no more a size 16 than my native Australia is the proud holder of the Ashes.
On one level, it's still tempting to sympathise. Her husband, Phil, is famous for his condensed milk puddings; the culinary temptations he provides would be hard for any woman to resist.
But there comes a point where an occasional self-indulgence becomes greed and where a few excess pounds become a life-threatening problem.
There also comes a point when journalism becomes simple disgusting playground finger-pointing with a very thin veneer of 'health concern'.
You can forgive Britton for having been miserable about her weight, having been under such a horrendous attack from such appalling witches as Platell. So when Britton does cave in and have surgery, what does Platell do?
2008. Platell hastily puts the boot in again:
Head down, arms hugged protectively over her chest, eyes darting around for a sympathetic face, Fern Britton looked for all the world like a little girl who'd been caught with her hand in the sweetie jar.
But... she did exactly what you, on your fucking high horse of wonderfulness and never having done anything wrong in your entire fucking life, said she should do - and lost weight. So where's the bloody problem?
I've no doubt she meant it, but I'm sorry to say that's exactly what she did. She let down millions of women who admired her and trusted her, but who now feel a little betrayed. Because Fern's big plus was always her honesty.
Yes, you're concerned about all those other poor widdle women, aren't you Platell. Not just picking on fattie.
What's the big deal, you may wonder? Well, when 23 per cent of all British women and 22.3 per cent of men are clinically obese, when childhood obesity has gone up 50 per cent in a decade and more than one in ten youngsters are obese, I'm afraid weight does matter.
Ah yes, here comes the science - concentrate! Platell is going to tell you all about how she's really concerned about things that are vital to the future of the nation, not just slagging a woman off for being a certain shape and then losing weight. Obviously, she would never do that.
Let's face it, Platell is a tedious cunt who uses wafer-thin justification to mask a pretty shabby piece of bitching. But what do Mail readers feel? Do they feel let down? What are the comments on the latest story about Britton? Bearing in mind that Mailites are usually the most callous, low and pathetic internet commenters in the world, it's a surprise to see:
Fern hasn't let anyone down. Shame on the people who have made this lovely woman feel so bad. I don't think many at all think badly of her, her fans want her back on TV being her usual happy self.
Personally I don't care how she lost weight, it is her own business.
- Carrie, Nottingham, 10/6/2008 12:13
Who cares! She looks good and feels good, more important things going on.
- Laura, Northern Ireland, 10/6/2008 12:41
Fern you haven't let anybody down! You look fabulous. As you said at the time "a girl likes to keep things to herself".
This Morning isn't the same without you. Come back! We love you and miss you.
- Tanyab, Fleet, Hants, 10/6/2008 12:43
Well, I hope everyone is now happy! I wouldn't have advertised it to the world either - it's private!
- MJ, Lisbon, 10/6/2008 12:44
Fern has let no one down, she has taken her health in her hands. She has not recommended any one to do the same but has always promoted exercise and better eating habits. I wish Fern well and hope to see her again on our TVs.
- Trudy Hort, Chesterfield, 10/6/2008 12:46
Maybe she should have mentioned the gastric band instead of having everyone believe it was down to willpower, but at the end of the day it's hardly the crime of the century! She obviously reached a point in her life where she desperately wanted to lose weight and realised she needed help. I think the NHS should look at the success of the gastric band and maybe offer it to more overweight people who are a constant strain on the health service.
Fern, I think you should return to work with your head held high.
- Cattie, Birmingham, 10/6/2008 12:52
For goodness sake, leave Fern alone! At least she made the desision to move forward in her life and take control of her weight. Lets not forget Fern is a person, and however she choses to lose weight is irrelevant, if it wasn't for so much media pressure, she probably would have been comfortable in revealing this. Get back to work Fern! You're constant cheery uncontrollable laughing is missed!
- CM, Glasogw, 10/6/2008 12:54
So what if Fern has had a gastric band. You still need the determination to lose weight, after all chocolate melts in your mouth and you could eat many bars slowly. I suspected last year that Fern had had a gastric band because she was losing weight constantly. Good luck to her. I just wish that I could afford to have a gastric band. Hang on in there Fern, you are an inspiration to us fatties that it can be done.
- N Briggs, Portsmouth, England, 10/6/2008 13:00
Fern should hold her head high, its not something anyone would want to broadcast- good luck to her.
- Lisa, Holyhead, 10/6/2008 13:07
I don't care how she did it, whether she lied about how she did it, so what! She looks fabulous and all her friends family and fans should be supporting her. I say good luck to her and hope to see her back on our TVs soon.
- Sharon, Derby, 10/6/2008 13:13
I don't think anyone blames Fern for having the gastric band. However, the blatant lies that her weight loss was achieved with only sensible eating and exercise is what is the killer for her. I don't watch This Morning, but can well imagine to some people that she's almost part of their daily ritual and family. It's like your mother/sister lying to you.
- Deborah, Essex, 10/6/2008 13:14
I don't care about the gastric band business, bring back Fern to This Morning. There is no better partnership on TV then Fern and Phil. What she does in her private life if her business.
- L.E, UK, 10/6/2008 13:17
I think Fern looks great - as someone who is constantly battling with my own weight I can totally understand why she has done this. She is still doing loads of exercise and eating sensibly - she has raised loads of money for charity though her cycling marathons etc. I can totally understand why she kept it quiet especially since all this media attention. Leave the poor woman in peace and let her get back to work and doing a job she is fab at.
- Moira English, Banbury, 10/6/2008 13:18
Leave Fern alone! So what if she had a gastric band fitted... that's her business.. no one else's.. We criticise the girl for being over weight.. we criticize her for doing something about it... just leave her alone and let her live her life with Phil and the kids!
- Gillian Spratt, Co Antrim, N.Ireland, 10/6/2008 13:22
If Fern felt she had to step out of the limelight because of all this ridiculous media hype, then it would be a huge shame and tragic loss to television. The media ought to hang their heads in shame - she is a fantastic lady and she DID lose the weight by exercise and diet. The gastric band doesn't exercise for you, it doesn't shrink your waist, it merely limits the amount of food you're able to eat before feeling full. Believe me, exercise and diet are very hard work - could you cycle as far as she has? She's worked really hard - she hasn't had a load of cosmetic surgery, liposuction or tummy tucks for goodness sake! Give her a break!
- Sally, Bicester, Oxfordshire, 10/6/2008 13:23
Give her a break- did you honestly think you can drop that much weight just by eating healthy and exercising in such short period of time?
- Josie, USA, 10/6/2008 13:23
Britton clearly has a lot of popularity and that certainly hasn't decreased down the years, despite Platell's attempts to slag her off for being fat and then slag her off for losing weight. Which gives you a bit of hope for Mail readers, for one thing. And puts Platell's horrible non-journalism into perspective.