I have a love/hate relationship with the Daily Mail. I can’t seem to stop myself reading it, even if I quite often skip directly to the reader’s comments just to annoy myself. I especially love to hate any of their coverage of women – overweight women are a particular favourite. I have no idea why I do it, perhaps I need some expert advice on my masochistic tendencies, but although I rarely read the stories about celebrity weight gain, or even worse, the weight loss articles, I still have an undeniable urge to make my own blood boil sometimes by reading the comments.
Daily Mail reader’s comments are a legend. They are everything you might expect them to be, and more besides. Weight loss and obesity-related articles are the best for bringing the trolls out from under their miserable little stones though. Oh, that and any woman who might be considering having babies after the age of 40.
Last week, gout got the Daily Mail treatment. While most of the news media took the revelation that there had been a 7.2% increase in the condition over the ten years from 1999 – 2009 and conjured up headlines like, “Gout cases double in a decade,” the Mail did not disappoint, and screamed, “‘Disease of kings’ on the rise as more people get gout because of increase in obesity!”
Leaving aside the fact that obesity isn’t actually a direct cause of gout, although eating too many purine-containing foods like seafood and red meat, or drinking a lot of alcohol could possibly lead to both conditions, it was just another opportunity to have a pop at the fatties. In this example, it would appear that there a lot of gout-ridden Daily Mail commentators as the comments were full of things like “My dad has gout and he’s a marathon runner” . But there were also plenty of people rubbing their hands at another opportunity for fat-bashing. This was my favourite comment:
“Disease of kings? Pah! More a case of disease of lardie Brits who are failing to take responsibility for their and their children’s well being through poor diet and lifestyle!”
To be honest, that was probably a bad example as far as comments go. But it does show that if a newspaper has an agenda, they can quite easily twist a perfectly good bit of health news to fit that agenda.
“Fat woman loses some weight shocker!”
If you’ve never read a Daily Mail weight loss article, you don’t know what you’re missing. Without even looking, I can predict that
1. There will be one next week.
2. It’s 80% likely to be about a woman.
3. She will have lost her weight at Slimming World or if the weight loss was particularly fast, probably Lighter Life.
4. The comments will contain one or more of the following, “She’s not a size 12, I’m a size 12 and she’s bigger than me.”, “She’s still fat“, “Why did she let herself get so fat in the first place?”
Another sigh. They can get SO nasty. I wonder where the hatred comes from, is it the media or is it actually a societal thing now? Shout at the fat people because deep down we’re scared we could end up fat ourselves?
I don’t know whether it’s the media’s fault for putting these boring, every one is the same articles out there for us to comment on, or if we (or the people who comment) are to blame for rising to their bait. All the time the weight loss and obesity-related articles on the site get so many comments, the Mail will carry on publishing them. We’re not silly, we know how it works – it’s the Samantha Brick effect. Publish something a bit controversial and invite people to comment on it. When they do, in their hundreds, the Mail gets loads of advertising revenue because their artticles get ‘clicked’ a lot more.
I’m just as bad, I can’t stop myself reading the damn comments! It’s like I’m self-harming my brain. I’ve actually talked about it in my book, “Voluptuous” due out next year. The heroine becomes so incensed by the torrent of negativity she reads in comments to an online article that she’s fired up with a desire to change the way fat people are viewed and prove that not all fatties are miserable, tragic, unfit and food-obsessed figures of fun, …you get the jist.
The Mail has such an intense phobia, verging on a hatred for fat people, and may of the commentators are adding to it with their ill-informed rants about fat, lazy, disgusting, greedy slobs. They also do slim people no good, because if you believe the media hype that diseases like Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and now gout ONLY happen to fat people, it means the thin people can carry on with their unhealthy habits, believing that they are immune because they fit the prescribed BMI!
As for the Mail…one of these days I’m going to go through all their articles and post something nice on every single one. And not even just the obesity-related ones….