Why is thinness the ultimate female ambition?

hannahbetts_2806965bIt has taken Hannah Betts over a year to revert to her normal body shape after a bout of illness left her skinny, vulnerable and ‘unsexed’. Now she asks why her healthy attitude to food is so at odds with the views and desires of other women.

A year or so ago, I was poisoned, my appendix exploded, and I almost died. Although, for the purposes of this article, the above sentence should read: “A year or so ago, I lost more than a stone in four days, when I was poisoned, my appendix exploded, and I almost died.” Because my sudden and dramatic weight loss was the only part of my situation that people – by which I mean other women – appeared able to notice.

Nothing I have achieved in my life has been as publicly celebrated as this inadvertent weight loss: not my Oxford first, nor lecturing there, nor becoming a leader writer on a national newspaper. Even my much-loved doctor congratulated me on it. When I emerged after several weeks’ isolation – shaky, uncertain, still visibly malnourished – the female response was universal: “You lucky bitch.”

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