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Piers Morgan's open letter to Tess Holliday is contempt dressed up as concern

‘Stop lying to yourself, Tess.’

IN DECEMBER 2016, Piers Morgan posted a scathing tweet in relation to Lady Gaga’s diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Dale Winton funeral Source: Doug Peters/PA Images

Piers branded the singer’s admission as ‘vainglorious nonsense’, insisted that PTSD was exclusive to the military and implied that Lady Gaga was on little more than a quest for ‘exposure’.

And in September 2018 – almost two years after his initial dismissal – Piers retracted the sentiment.

I launched into her and sort of inferred that no one outside the military should really be claiming to get PTSD. I don’t think I should have been quite so dismissive of everybody….I do accept that you can have it in other forms.

One might wonder whether we will be forced to wait another two years for a similar retraction following the open letter he penned to plus-size model, Tess Holliday, this week in which he urged the 33-year-old to ‘stop lying to herself’ about being content in her own skin.

NY: NYFW - Christian Siriano Spring Summer 2019 Runway Show Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Seemingly intent on continuing a war of words with Cosmopolitan’s recent cover girl, Piers wrote a scathing assessment of Tess’s health, appearance, and social circle before urging her to lose weight in order to act as an inspiration for ‘millions of other Americans with morbid obesity’.

Of Tess’s role as a mother, Piers wrote:

You have two young sons; one of 13, the other just two years old. They need you to stay alive and be their mum. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth and it’s time you faced up to it.

Of her social media presence, Piers remarked:

On Tuesday, you posted a very unedifying semi-naked Instagram photo of yourself to your 1.7 million followers. You wrote the following words to go with it: ‘@lizzobeeating told me to caption this photo ‘Damn…that look good.’ But when I saw your photo, which quickly went viral on Twitter, my heart sank.

And of the friend who encouraged her to celebrate the so-called ‘unedifying’ image, Piers lamented:

If your own friends are telling you that you look ‘damn good’ in a photo that is so obviously deeply unflattering, then as I said, you need better friends. A real friend would be telling you what I am telling you.

Marie Claire Fifth Annual ''Fresh Faces'' Source: F. Sadou/PA Images

Piers is entitled to his opinion, and if he is – as he insists – ‘not obsessed, but worried’ about Tess and her health, let’s try quell his concerns by focusing on a point he made regarding British politician, Tom Watson.

Piers made reference to the fact Mr Watson reversed his Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis after losing 100 lbs, and advised Tess to use Tom as some form of inspiration.

And yet a recent study illustrated that thin people, who don’t exercise, are more likely to develop the condition than a fat person who does exercise… like Tess.

Writing for The Huffington Post this week, Michael Hobbes expands on this finding in a piece entitled ‘Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong‘:

2016 study that followed participants for an average of 19 years found that unfit skinny people were twice as likely to get diabetes as fit fat people. Habits, no matter your size, are what really matter. Dozens of indicators, from vegetable consumption to regular exercise to grip strength, provide a better snapshot of someone’s health than looking at her from across a room.

Hear that, Piers? If Tess’s health is your only concern, then surely you’ll be pleased to know that it takes a lot more than a cursory glance over her covershoot to determine how healthy she is.

Oh, and with regards Piers’ reference to Tess’s children needing a mother?

Well, Hobbes touches on the life expectancy of obese people by referring to a 2015 study which found that the stigma attached to being overweight can actually be more detrimental to a person’s health than their actual weight.

Definitely something to think about there.

Indeed, considerable research has been done into the misinformation that surrounds obesity in Hobbe’s aforementioned piece, which is perhaps why Piers’ sanctimonious pleas fall so short on this occasion.

Piers’ personal opinion is that Tess shouldn’t weigh 300lbs, and that’s fine, but it’s also possible to recognise the positive impact Tess’s covershoot had on millions of people.

Seeing a 300lb woman on the cover of a magazine historically reserved for thin women was a landmark moment; an editorial decision which will have a far-reaching effect on the self-worth of countless readers.

To so easily dismiss the positive implications of Tess’s shoot is Piers’ biggest failing in this instance.

“The editors and producers paying you large sums of money to glamourise your morbid obesity are cynically exploiting you. They’re your enablers,” he writes.

This isn’t true, it’s simply that they’re seeing the bigger picture.

But if Tess does ever choose to alter her appearance, you can be damn sure it wasn’t because Piers Morgan told her to.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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