The young lady above is called Katie Green. She’s been in the news a few times in recent months, but for the benefit of this blog’s high-minded readers it may be worth recapping why. Last summer, Ms Green won a competition to model for Wonderbra. Then, by her account, they referred her to a model agency, where she was unbelievably – no, actually, all too believably – told that she was too fat and she needed to lose two stone, as they wouldn’t have anyone on their books who was more than a size ten. Which says a lot about the modelling world, if this woman can be considered too fat to be a viable proposition.
Katie then went public with this story. That got her into the papers again. Rival bra magnate Michelle Mone, who can spot a PR opportunity a mile off, headhunted her to be the face (well, I say face, but you know what I mean) of Ultimo. And Katie has turned her experience into a campaign against the size zero culture. Fair enough, and I wish her luck. Young women have enough problems with the images portrayed by the media, and any turning of the tide against the idea that women should look like pre-pubescent boys is welcome. Sometimes you would get the impression that the fashion and advertising industries are actively trying to promote eating disorders.
But that’s all by the by. The aspect of this story that caught my eye was this:
Yes, you recognise that bloke. It’s Liberal Democrat MP, classic motorcycle enthusiast, asteroid aficionado and all-round man about town Lembit Öpik. What, you may ask, is a respectable politician doing hobnobbing with a lingerie model half his age? Officially, Westminster’s answer to George Clooney is simply helping Katie with some ideas about how to publicise her Say No To Size Zero campaign. Unofficially – or at least according to the Mail – it doesn’t seem to have taken him long to get over his Cheeky Girls heartbreak.
Well, one salutes his indefatigability, of course. And I must say, there’s something oddly engaging about Lembit. I remember it was said of the late Clement Freud that, having established himself as a noted wit and media personality, he decided to become an MP so people would take him more seriously. With his party colleague Lembit, the opposite seems to apply. I sometimes get the impression that he became an MP so as to be better placed to blag invites to showbiz parties. Maybe, if he hadn’t become an MP, I would be sharing a drink with him at sci-fi conventions.
Be that as it may, let’s not forget that, while Lembit is the nearest thing we have to an MP for Heat magazine, in formal constitutional terms he also has actual electors. And I often wonder what the conservative Methodist farmers of Montgomeryshire make of their representative’s swinging lifestyle. Actually, they probably love it, on the principle that Lembit’s life of glamour brings some reflected lustre to the area. Certainly, he’s the most colourful character in Welsh politics, at least unless someone can convince Greatest Living Welshman Howard Marks to take a run at the ballot box.
In related Liberal Democrat news, teenage Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson has called for a crackdown on airbrushing in ads aimed at young people, on precisely the grounds that unrealistic body images damage young girls. As Anton remarks, her point may have carried more weight if it was made elsewhere than in the Daily Mail, an organ that specialises in attacking female celebs for being either too fat or too thin, or occasionally looking a bit rough when papped without makeup.
And finally on this theme, a brief editorial note. Despite rumours to the contrary, I am not moonlighting at Stumbling and Mumbling.