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Julia Bryce: Why fat shaming Tilly Ramsay for a cheap laugh may come at a devastating price

Tilly Ramsay on Strictly Come Dancing. Photo credit: Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire.

Ah. Here we go again. Another older white man picking on, sorry, fat-shaming a young teenage girl. Oh how lovely it is to be a woman in the 21st century.

This week Steve Allen criticised 19-year-old Tilly Ramsay on his early-morning LBC show calling her “a chubby little thing”.

A chubby little thing. Wow. How poetic.

There’s nothing like a man over three times your age telling you how your body should or shouldn’t look. After all, Tilly was clearly put on this earth to please the 67-year-old.

It isn’t the first time he’s had a dig at a woman for her appearance after he weighed-in on reality TV star Gemma Collins’ figure, too. And guess what? It probably won’t be the last time either.

Tilly Ramsay has criticised radio DJ Steve Allen who referred to her as a “chubby little thing” live on air. Photo credit: Ray Burmiston/BBC/PA.

This all sparked when a listener on his show commented that the children’s TV presenter and daughter of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was also taking part in Celebrity MasterChef Australia.

To which he responded: “Is she? Well, she can’t blimming well dance, I’m bored with her already. She’s a chubby little thing, isn’t she? Have you noticed? Probably her dad’s cooking, I should imagine.”

Tilly expressed her disappointment and hurt on social media, and has since been inundated with a tsunami of support from fans and celebs alike.

But what gives this guy the right to body shame a teen to the nation? Why are we still putting up with these comments from ignoramuses and giving them a platform?

He’s just a bully

Criticising anyone for their weight isn’t just downright rude, it can also be incredibly triggering.

Having suffered from an eating disorder for the past 15 years I know all too well how easy it is to plummet back into the darkness and make bad choices all because of a few comments that what, are meant to be funny? I certainly wasn’t laughing.

Steve reminds me of the school bully who used to taunt me daily in secondary, calling me fat in front of the class to try get a good laugh going.

And laugh some of them would.

The majority of those laughing were adolescent males, but then there were also a select few females who took great pleasure in provoking him to do it again and again.

Even being part of “the sisterhood” can’t save you from being fat shamed by your own.

But Steve isn’t part of this sisterhood. And neither were those girls. He never could be, not after his remarks about Tilly and picking on someone who is quite clearly more mature than he will ever be. Her response on social media clearly demonstrated this.

“I draw the line at commenting on my appearance. This isn’t the first and definitely won’t be the last comment made about my appearance and I accept that and I’m learning to accept myself,” she said.

“I won’t tolerate people that think it’s okay to publicly comment and scrutinise anyone’s weight and appearance.”

Sticks and stones…

Words can hurt. And they can be incredibly damaging.

Not just for those in the public eye, but for us everyday folks too. And when we are exposed to drivel like the comments on Steve’s show, I hate to say it, but that’s exactly when you start questioning your own appearance and comparing yourself to others.

Radio DJ Steve Allen. Photo credit: David Parry/PA Wire.

Using someone’s appearance and weight as a weapon is bullying. It is ignorant, nasty and abusive. Steve abused his power. And he abused a multitude of women across the country in mere seconds without batting an eyelid.

But it isn’t just bullying, fat shaming women is a control game. A game where each and every one of us is told they should look the same, be the same, and fit into an idealistic mould of what these misogynists think is the “correct way” to look, dress and act.

We need to do better

With an estimated 1.25 million people in the UK living with an eating disorder according to Beat, it’s no surprise so many of us are livid with this downright disgusting behaviour.

At 67 years of age you’d think Steve Allen would have the capacity to use his head and know what is, and isn’t acceptable these days. But maybe that’s asking too much?

Perhaps before you go chiming in on how young women look, you should take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘do I really have the right?’.

Nikita Kuzmin and Tilly Ramsay during the live show of BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing. Photo credit: Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire.

No, Steve, you don’t. And other Steves out there, take note. Women aren’t here to get in line and be whatever version of ourselves you want us to be.

We’re here in every shape of every size of every colour and we’re not going to stop banging the drum until the Steves of the world have finally bagged themselves some manners.

For anyone in Scotland who needs help with eating disorders please call Beat, the UK’s leading charity supporting those affected by eating disorders, on 0808 801 0432. There is a one-to-one web chat online.

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