Boris Johnson appears to fat-shame fellow MP

by | 28 Jan 2022 | Eating Disorders, Mental Health (all), Other / Misc | 0 comments

Well, I never thought my EATING DISORDER related blog would have 2 posts about MP’s in as many months…. But when Boris Johnson appeared to be fat-shaming a fellow MP during Prime Ministers Questions in the House of Commons this week I felt I had to write about it.

Just in case you haven’t heard about this yet, let me give you the context of this discussion. During Prime Ministers Questions this week (Wed 26th Jan 2022), Scottish National Party’s Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, was addressing the pending increase in National Insurance Tax when he threw in a slightly backhanded comment of “the impending National Insurance tax hike hangs like a guillotine while they eat cake”.

With his comment Mr Blackford seems to be referring to the recent debacle of a Number 10 office gathering during the lockdown, during which Boris Johnson was presented with a Birthday cake, in what most would see as plainly against lockdown rules (an issue totally worth discussion, but not on this blog). Boris Johnsons’ reply was “I don’t know who has been eating more cake”; seemingly making a fat-phobic, diet culture laden comment about Mr Blackfold’s weight. There is *so* much wrong with this.

Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford

Firstly, I feel increasingly saddened with the state of UK politics. It seems common place these days for MP’s to launch direct personalised attacks on their fellow MP’s with regards to things which are irrelevant to the matter being debated.  Are MP’s not supposed to be role models, citizens of our country who uphold our values and stand up for things we believe in? If they are, then I don’t understand how, what is essentially workplace bullying and harassment, can appear to be a central part of their debating tactic. I am aware that there are a lot of deeper issues here when it come to politics and Politicians, but for the sake of this post let’s just clearly state – it is not okay to treat your fellow human like this.

Secondly, let me make this this clear ; the way a person looks (their weight, size, shape, skin colour or indeed anything else) holds no bearing on their ability to contribute to a debate or discussion about the country’s finances (or most any other topic).

The reality is, it was a cheap shot on the Prime Minister’s part. He was likely feeling pretty defensive about the birthday cake / office gathering issue – but HIS FEELINGS about that are irrelevant to a debate about tax. He appeared to simply be deflecting his feelings about his own actions by attempting to humiliate another human being. The adult, responsible thing to do, would be for him to indicate this; for him to speak out loud that the ‘birthday cake / office gathering issue’ is being investigated but is separate from the matter at hand of the tax issue.  This would firmly place the focus back on the important issue of the tax rise the country is facing. Politics isn’t about singular MPs’, politics is about our country and the way it is run.

The fact that this defensive comment was (slightly indirectly) about another person’s weight just makes this entire interaction all the more complicated too. Diet culture and fat phobia is rife in our society, and with more people that ever struggling with issues such as disordered eating, Eating Disorders, Body Dysmorphia, low self esteem and related difficulties we have to do something about it. Yet the problem is so big; diet culture and fat-phobia are all pervasive in our society. How can we hope to improve this when someone who is literally our Prime Minister is making comments of this ilk live in the Commons?

I’m not sure whom I should be angry at. Should I be angry at the Prime Minister for this obviously inappropriate comment, or  should I be angry at the society in which he lives, which has brought him to a point where he thought that his comment was an appropriate way to respond to his colleague?

So much of the difficulty with improving fat phobia and diet culture in our society is not really knowing where to start to instigate change….. So, all I can hope is that by talking about it, in some small way, I may be helping.

Until next time, be kind, be curious, be yourself.  

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Kel O'Neill

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