You might or might not have seen or heard about Christina Briggs in the past week or two. She spoke to Closer Magazine, as a 25-stone woman, saying that she needs more help to eat healthily, from the UK taxpayer.
Now, it probably sounds bad, me just saying it like that, so let’s have a little more background.
She’s a single mother, she weighs 25 stone (about 350lbs), and she’s unemployed, which means she’s paid benefits from the Government. The article states that she receives “over £20,000” in benefits, but when I was Googling, I saw a Daily Mail article, which put the figure at £15,000.
Thing is, that figure includes rent, council tax reduction, child benefit, and other things I don’t know about, because I’m not a single mother.
What I do know is that what she’ll get for herself, for food and other personal effects, is (assuming she’s on the same amount of benefits as I am!) £240~ a month.
Yes. A month.
That’s what unemployed people in this country have to survive on, for food, gym memberships, internet costs, mobile phone bills, going out for a night, transport, etc. Clothes. If something breaks down.
And if we look at the cost of food, I can completely understand where she’s coming from: healthy living and healthy eating is expensive. When you can buy microwave meals from Iceland for £1, that’s £7 for a week’s worth of dinners, and a couple of quid for a box or two of cereal, and something for lunch (lunch meat is REALLY expensive – the stuff from the counter is RIDICULOUSLY expensive, and a packet of 16 frankenslices of meat is about £3; £2 for two loaves; margarine, milk, etc.)
I had managed to get my food bill down to under £30 for two weeks out of necessity, because my other bills had gotten out of control. I was forced to live on junk food. I could not – literally could not – afford to buy fresh, unfrankenprocessed, meat. Fruit had become a treat, and when I went out and bought fruit (even when I bought it in Aldi), my bill shot from under £30 to over £40.
Living a healthy life is expensive.
I’m not sure about Christina, because I haven’t read the whole story yet (the joy of having paid for my web hosting this week is that I haven’t the money to buy the magazine, hah. The irony.), but I do know that she mentions taking the kids to McDonalds, and “having a takeaway at the weekends”. She doesn’t live on takeaways, because that’s not cheaper. That’s not sustainable.
The price of food, though? Is ludicrously high. We’re talking about an obesity epidemic, and, as she rightly says, “A bag of apples costs the same as a multipack of crisps.” I know which one SHOULD be cheaper.
The other thing is that she feels personally demonised, when she heads out to exercise. I don’t think I even need to really talk about that in-depth, because I’ve gone through it. I’ve been dehumanised. On plenty of occasions.
It’s ridiculous. The woman wants to get out and exercise, and she feels like people are laughing at her? How about no. How about she should be free to do whatever she wants without being ridiculed for it. How about, even if people aren’t laughing at her, she should never have to think that people are laughing at her? That’s the kind of society we’ve created, through the endless stream of media and the generations we’ve brought up to believe that being fat is worse than anything else in the world.
The kind of place where a fat person steps out and automatically thinks that all eyes are on them.
I know, because it’s how I feel, too.
But let me tell you, Christina: I understand exactly what you’re going through. It’s fucking tough, but I just know that you’re tougher. You can do it; get through it. The Daily Mail article says you enjoy swimming, so put the idea of running to the back of the closet for the minute, invest in a good waterproof MP3 player, put on your sassiest cozzie, and go get your water wings back on. Get in the water. Tune everything else out, and swim. Nobody will be looking at you in the pool, because they’ll all be doing their thing, too.
I know, because I’ve been there, done that, at 27 stone. In a bikini, no less.
Best of luck, Christina Briggs, however this all turns out. Please ignore the trolls. Don’t pay them any heed!