You may remember a story from the Daily Mail last month about Donna Simpson, a New Jersey woman “determined” to become the world’s fattest woman.
The Daily Mail isn’t exactly a bastion of media integrity. It is a conservative, reactionary British tabloid that has been involved in a number of notable libel cases. All of this was noted in an excellent post by Charlotte Cooper of Obesity Timebomb, who questioned whether the article was just ”journalistic spin on running a random stereotype-filled story about a superfat woman on the eve of bikini season – always a crowd pleaser”.
In spite of the Daily Mail’s track record, many did take the article at face value. Donna Simpson’s alleged goal inspired some pretty visceral reactions from people: that she is the antithesis to fat acceptance, that she is eating herself to an early grave, that she is a bad mother, that she is selfish and – horror of horrors - that poor old Joe Six-Pack will be saddled with her ever-increasing hospital bills.
As it turns out, Daily Mail did twist Donna Simpson’s words in order to turn her into a big fat freak show.
As was gleefully pointed out in the article, Donna Simpson is a model on the fetish website Supersized Bombshells (“she runs a website where men pay her to watch her eat fast food”). Like all models on all sexually explicit websites, she provides very obvious fantasy for her subscribers. Her ‘goal’ of eating 12,000 calories a day to reach 1000 pounds? All part of the act. The mind boggles at the idea that a journalist could take information from Treasure Bombshell’s profile – who is essentially a fictional character – and attribute ‘her’ words to Donna Simpson.
Internet porn is nothing new and gainer/feedee websites – like all fetish websites - have long been a part of it. Despite this, because of the attention the Daily Mail received as a result of their article, the Sydney Morning Herald ran a story on gainer blogs. Predictably, the story speculated at the undiagnosed mental conditions these craaaazy gainers could have and noted their inevitable death by fatness.
The media’s portrayal of fat people forever feels like one step forward, two steps back. Just when it seemed like progress was being made – with plus size fashion and health at every size getting more and more attention - fat people are objectified as mentally ill sexual freaks that market their bodies to perverts. Spectacular.
After all this, what I’m really curious about is what premise Donna Simpson was given to get her to agree to the interview with the Daily Mail in the first place…