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12 February 1998 Edition

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Television: You're Gorgeous

By Sean O Donaile

The first time I became aware of diet food was as a gawky thirteen year old in Limerick, when I witnessed four rotund Americans ordering four super large pizzas and four ``diet cokes''.

Since the beginning of time we've been obsessed with getting enough to eat and putting on weight, but in the last twenty years our bellies have been overflowing, the Western World has become obsessed with dieting and fatness just ain't the status symbol it used to be.

Heart Of The Matter (A Matter Of Fat, BBC2) investigated the death of Californian Christina Corrigan, who died at the age of thirteen, weighing a 48 stone. Her mother blamed society for her death as she had been rejected and abused by her peers to a point where she ceased to socialise, and her''spunkiness'' was replaced by self-consciousness. Society saw it otherwise and Christina's mother was recently charged with child abuse.

Helen Jackson and her colleagues in ``The National Association For Fatness'' have started an anti-discrimination campaign and state that they can't control their weight. We haven't yet reached Yankee levels of chubbiness (I recall once sitting beside a 30 stone man in Boston who munched his way through a bucket of burgers, but no-one ever believed my heroic tale) but one in five of us is now overweight. The fat lobby argues that we've become too accustomed to looking through a TV lens at thin people while right wing Sunday Times columnist AA Gill of the thin lobby - who arguably holds less weight - argued that fat people are ``unhappy because nobody fancies them'' and the only good use for those too overweight is as draught excluders.

Fellow right winger Nigel Lawson was wheeled in to show his new frame, five stone less, but he's still a ``fat cat''. On and on they argued, the only point of advice I garnered was to turn off the central heating to shed a few pounds.

At the other end of the scales are the models featured on BBC1's Inside Story, many of whom pride themselves on being anorexic. Isabella Blow took us on a blow by blow account of young girls as young as fourteen as they attempted to ``ascend into a glamorous and otherwise unattainable world''. The photographers drooled over each new model like animals of prey and we had to listen to such nonsensical lines as ``they glide from limousine to fashion show.......''

Immature Charlotte is one such yearling from the renowned Storm Agency. 17 year old Charlotte jumped from a world of ``doing my sums at school'' to New York catwalks and was obviously too young. We followed her progress at New York Fashion Week as she wooed the critics with her ``wicked little doll'' looks and her ``angel of face''. Extreme youth sells with male photographers drooling over school kids and designers queuing to hang their creations on teenage frames.

Many of these schoolgirls are prone to the pitfalls of heroin and anorexia, which are rampant in the business. `Heroin chic' is the skeletal dead eye look inspired by junkies, which recently came in for harsh criticism from Bill at the `Oral' Office, but anorexia is still in vogue. Republicians could be accused of becoming over-fashion conscious, with the Ardoyne men in ballys modelling for Adidas and Gerry and Martin abandoning the famous wax and tweed jackets for more upmarket gear. Still no sign of Calvin Klein coming on board with the peace process. Which is where Charlotte ended up.

I have since discarded my Calvin Klein boxers and decided not to pursue the shallow and cut-throat world of modelling.

The six men who sailed from Peru to Polynesia in 1947 on a raft didn't have the need for wearing any clothes as they were too busy recreating the famous ``Kon Tiki Adventure'' as featured on Teilifis Na Gaeilge on Tuesday last.

Legend has it that the Incas sailed on balsa wood rafts 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean in search of a new life and six Norwegians spent 101 days recreating the historic voyage. After lashing together nine logs with rope and erecting a bamboo cabin, they were seen off by sceptical dignatories in Lima. The raft steered itself across the ocean and even if it turned backwards it still headed in the same direction driven by currents. Remarkable footage of the voyage earned it an Oscar in the days before Hollywood money played a part.

The ``hardy bucks'' spent their days meditating, tanning themselves and catching fish. Sharks were a constant danger and were speared with skill while flying fish obligingly landed on deck for breakfast each morning. They were also followed by whales but never fatally. Radio was established by means of an air ballon and ink was provided by captured cuttlefish. After 101 days gulls were spotted and the raft was washed ashore on a coral reef.

This programme made a very welcome change after being subjected to two hours of Emmerdale Farm and Brookside.

The unfortunate populace of Dublin might consider sush transport as all other modes of transport seem to lead to gridlock. Prime Time RTE, highlighted the plight of the poor unfortunates who have to endure overcrowded buses inhabited by grumpy drivers and irate passengers. Taxis are a rip-off, there are none when you want them and their drivers are all experts on the latest political scandal or football match. Dubs are slow to abandon the 66,000 cars which clog the City Centre, as it offers privacy and you can pick your nose when you think no-one is watching.

The Corporation is now trying to end all free parking in the city, and create bus corridors, which are being opposed by local businesses. Dublin Bus Chief Executive Alan Westwell mysteriously promised ``a better ride'' with Dublin bus, but there's still not many takers, but Tony Gregory had the right idea in raising taxes and creating better public transport. They could always repossess all taxis and fat cats Mercs, paint them black and copy West Belfast.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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