One of the things I liked about the Olympics was how it made us all feel a bit healthier. There I was, drinking wine while sitting down, watching the running and the jumping and the peddling and the paddling, feeling a bit fitter, sort of by proxy. Which of course is complete tosh but it was quite a nice illusion.
And weren’t they all lovely, the athletes? So smiley and excited. And we got to have a look at all those shiny, strong bodies. And then the athletes started to become celebrities, which was probably annoying for them, because they get up so early in the morning and then they won and just wanted a burger and the papers wouldn’t leave them alone. But it was fun for us because we’re more used to celebrities like J-Lo, who apparently only eats 1200 calories a day, not 6,000 like Chris Hoy. Usually, when we see a picture of someone in a bikini in a magazine they’re cowering from a paparazzi guy while trying to enjoy a family holiday on the beach, not about to win a sprint. How nice when food is fuel and clothing is dictated by the job in hand.
So an interesting, and unexpected, effect of the fantastic achievements by these hard working and remarkably sculpted people was to make the rack of ‘women’s weeklies’ in the newsagent seem little more than benignly pathetic. All this scrutinising the bodies of celebrities for weight loss/cellulite/crow’s feet/an unusual toe became even boringer in comparison. Jess Ennis can jump 30cm higher than she is tall. Victoria Pendleton can cycle at speeds of over 100km an hour. Kim Kardashian can … wear a dress.
Of course the Olympics wasn’t a complete holiday from the usual ambient bullshit. Rebecca Addlington received nasty tweets again for ‘not looking brilliant’ in her post-race interviews, forcing her to frustratedly explain why she doesn’t give a foam float about what she looks like when she’s being the third fastest female swimmer in the entire world. (No one seemed to think it mattered that Andy Murray looked a bit sweaty).
And then we were dazzled by the amazing skills of the Paralympians. Who use their non-perfect bodies to accomplish incredible feats. But when it’s all over it’ll probably be business as usual, to be honest. Much as I’d love all our celebs to be aspirational figures of hard work, talent and achievement, someone from TOWIE is going to fall out of a taxi and it’ll be like the Olympics never happened. And, conversely, J-Lo seems unlikely to take up pole vaulting. So, if we must take an interest in the doings and beings of the people that populate these magazines and websites, could we maybe change the way we rate and regard them, instead?
What if, rather than weirdly and pervily scrutinising famous flesh for evidence of eating disorder, residual ‘baby weight’ or emotional turmoil, we decide how much of an interest in to take in a celebrity based on how much fun they appear to be having? I mean, most of them are absolutely minted – what are they doing for shits and giggles? Surely we should demand that they do more to inspire our fascination than just posing with one leg stuck out at a film premiere?
Imagine. The likes of Now and Grazia would be transformed. ‘Rihanna dances like a twat for three hours at friend’s party – a source close to the singer said she looked a bit mental but was having a brilliant time’. ‘Beyoncé buys pogo stick’. ‘Kristin Stewart spotted laughing so hard Fanta came out of her nose’. I’d be impressed by that.
Let’s forget about the boring celebs, and the invasive pictures, and creepy fetishising of the bodies of women who find, or put, themselves in the public eye. I think it’s been well established by now that putting circles around non-perfect bits of women’s bodies on shiny paper doesn’t make anyone feel good about themselves. And, ok, most of us can’t jump over a hurdle and more than we can fit in Mylene Klass’s bikini; but let’s at least start valuing what we can do with our bodies a bit more, and remember that all this is supposed to be fun.
Truly when someone doesn’t understand afterward its up to other people that they will assist, so here it happens.