The people who are happy to call themselves 'fat'
- 18 March 2014
Clarissa Dickson Wright, of cookery show Two Fat Ladies, has died. She was one of a select group of celebrities happy to admit being "fat", writes Tom Heyden.
Dickson Wright and her late co-host Jennifer Paterson were relative rarities in being unashamedly "fat" in an era obsessed with size. "If you're fat you're fat. I hate this modern-day political correctness, that you don't call things by their proper name," she told the Guardian in 2009. But from musician Fats Domino, whose first recording was The Fat Man in 1950, to rapper Fat Joe, there have always been some who have based their stage names on their frames - and others have also played on the theme.
Comedians are well-represented. Jo Brand has labelled herself "a middle-aged, menopausal fat feminist" and made fat references part of her routine for several decades, explaining in a 2011 The Guardian interview that: "It's almost a thing that I can't stop because I've been doing it for so long." That's not to say comedians are invulnerable to downsizing pressures. Dawn French's weight has fluctuated in recent years, even drawing accusations of "betraying the fat club" - a telling example of how much size can become part of one's celebrity identity. French told the Daily Mail last year: "I am perfectly happy with how I look and I always have been. I'll always be a fat girl and I am happy with that."
Hollywood is often held up as one of the drivers of size-zero celebrities and body image issues. But there's also the opportunity to exploit one's weight. Actor Jack Black, promoting Tropic Thunder in 2008, joked: "I've got a lot of fat guys trying to knock me off fat mountain. They're all coming. They're like, 'I want to be the fat guy.' I'm like, 'No I'm the fattest fat guy. I'll beat you fat guys.'" Kirstie Alley turned her widely-documented struggles with weight into the satirical sitcom Fat Actress. Then there are more peculiar acknowledgements, with Jack Nicholson once quoted as saying: "With my sunglasses on I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and 60."