Magazine article The Spectator

Looking for Thinspiration

Magazine article The Spectator

Looking for Thinspiration

Article excerpt

The Duchess of Windsor famously remarked in 1937 that one could never be too rich or too thin, but skinniness in the West has never been more of a status symbol than it is now. The quest for sylphdom is not just about looking nicer in clothes. We trust slim people more than the rotund. Lardies, we believe, are unreliable and lack discipline.

Slinkies, meanwhile, have self-control and willpower -- the kind of qualities that make us feel more comfortable in having them as an employee, say, or as Deputy Prime Minister.

We worry about the impact on teenage self-image of whippet-thin models in advertising campaigns. But intelligent, grown-up women seek thinness with more desperation than any dysmorphic schoolgirl. It's proof that we've still got 'it', that we're still contenders in all games -- be they romantic, social or career-related. A woman who can conquer carbohydrates can conquer anything -- or so we imagine.

I told a couple of female friends over an Atkins-friendly dinner the other day that I'd bumped into a high-powered contemporary whom we hadn't seen since our student days.

The woman had been hugely successful in her career, she has a happy marriage, four children and three homes. It was only when I mentioned that she was thin, however, that I noticed something inside my friends dying. Our successful friend's slenderness was the real proof of her power and status. She had, after all, taken on a foe more formidable than any glass ceiling: Mother Nature and her wicked programme of expanded waistlines and dimply thighs. She had emerged snake-hipped and victorious. It's why, though she seems to be good at very little other than looking fabulous at 40, women admire Elizabeth Hurley even more than men do. Thighs like hers are no accident:

they show character and determination.

And so a new breed of diet is emerging, one that requires hardly any willpower at all. A group of sybaritic slimmers already know it's easier to outsource weight loss than to go to all the effort of dieting. All you need is a chequebook and the right contacts.

Passive dieting is enjoying a mini-boom in London. Thousands of calorie-counted meals on wheels are sent out to women who can't be bothered to watch their own weight. Under one scheme, called the The Lazy Rich Person's six-week body plan, clients are bundled into a car four mornings a week and driven to a fitness trainer's torture chamber in Holland Park. After consultations with a nutritionist, their daily requirements are calculated so that during the six-week regime their food -- conjured into something delicious by some of London's best chefs -- will be delivered to their door every day. …

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