Fashion, style, beauty, hair, health, fitness, life issues, lifestyle, home, garden and anything else that matters to the woman in her prime of life.

Chloe Marshall - fit, fat, or maybe?

Chloe Marshall's weight is causing a furore in the UK

blog imageFor those who don't know, the reason is that Ms Marshall is the first plus-size girl to ever get a place in the Miss United Kingdom beauty pageant. That fact has brought out doctors, dieticians, bloggers and journalists in droves to comment on her fat/curves/health/BMI and the rest, and whether she should be a role model for young girls or considered a fat disgrace. Can't be easy when she's only 17.

Marshall is 5ft 10 tall, so a standard catwalk height, and weighs 176 pounds (12 stone 8), which gives her a BMI of 25.3 by my calculations. Her measurements are 38, 32, 42 and she's a UK size 16 (for women of my age, that used to be an 18).

I dunno. I have to admit that, for myself, she does look fat. Maybe it's the photograph that makes her look so heavy but I would have guessed she weighed far more than this.

But I also have to admit that my judgement on 'fat' is an aesthetic one, not a health one. There, I haven't got a leg to stand on. A BMI of 25.3 is into the overweight category, admittedly, at obesity grade 1, but it's by no means unhealthy and not even approaching medically obese (the 'normal' range for BMI is 18.5-25). Marshall says she exercises regularly and eats healthily, and a weight of three pounds over the BMI 'normal' range has no impact on your overall health statistics that I'm aware of. You could lose this much with a trip to the sauna.

blog imageI wondered if my reaction was because we're used to seeing bikinis photographed on women who are terribly underweight. But on reflection, I don't think it is. Take Giselle Bundchen as an example, since she's a leading Victoria's Secret model. At 5ft 10.5 tall, so nearly the same as Ms Marshall, she weighs 130 pounds (9 stone 3) and measures 34, 24, 34. That gives her a classically desireable hourglass figure and a BMI of 18.4 - a smidgen below the normal weight range.

They're very different-looking women but they both fall into the category of 'don't worry about your weight, love' - one slightly under, one slightly over. (Incidentally, in my time I've been as low as 17.6 and as high as 26.5 without feeling bad about it either way.)

So why do I feel that Marshall looks fat?

Part of it may be social conditioning, but there's also the fact that there's more to weight than your BMI - there's also your muscle to fat ratio. When I was growing up, the saying was: "If you can pinch more than an inch, you need to go on a diet". To me, Marshall looks like she could pinch considerably more.

blog imageSo instead of a model, let's compare her with a professional athlete - Serena Williams. Williams is also a big lass - big arse, big legs, big boobs. She's the same height - 5ft 10 - but weighs 146 pounds (10 stone 6), which gives her a BMI of 20.8, bang in the middle of the 'normal' range and as close as you'll get to ideal. Her waist measurement is 28 inches, and you can bet your bottom dollar that she has a high proportion of muscle to body fat - she's a powerfully built girl.

For my own part, I feel this fit and muscular body is the closest to what a truly healthy woman should look like, and if I had a teenage daughter, I would prefer Williams on the catwalk rather than Marshall as an image to be emulated.


First foot forward

Why does exercise get so difficult as you get older?

Today I started walking again - for the first time in a month. The wake-up call was putting my back out a week ago. OK, I admit it's my own fault. My sister visited at the end of September and I did nothing but clean, tidy and decorate for a fortnight before she got here, then drive her around for a week. The dog was going nuts, wondering where his morning run had disappeared to, but impressing my sister was obviously more important. I even stopped my morning yoga in favour of slapping paint on the salon walls.

The trouble is, I'm not a teenager any more, am I? At 44 you can't just stop exercising for three weeks and then carry on like nothing's happened, especially when you have a dodgy back. So last Friday, I should have known better than to pick up a 10-litre can of paint and carry it upstairs - even with a daily four-mile walk and my yoga exercises, this would be daft for me without a back brace, but having not exercised at all it was very stupid indeed. Luckily I got away with strapping myself up for three days and taking it easy.

Today's been my first walk since then. I live in the countryside and it's a beautiful autumn day, with mist and yellowing maize, and the cherry trees turning red. Walking is a complete and private pleasure. At heart, I think I do it not just to stay fit, or to keep the dog out of mischief, but to connect with nature, mull over thoughts and feelings, and to calm myself down. I also like being alone for a while, with only my untalkative mutt for company. The idea of exercising on a treadmill or lifting weights is anathema to me, but it's horses for courses I guess - some people like their gym membership, or to exercise in a class. I'm more of a loner. The important thing is to find what exercise you like, and to stick to it.

So even though my inguinal ligaments were screaming after about 30 minutes and my normal walk took 15 minutes longer than usual, I now feel fantastic. I also know that today I'm in better shape than yesterday, and tomorrow I'll be in better shape than today. It's all worth it.


No documents found.

No documents found.