In Katie Hopkins’ reality TV show, “My Fat Story”, she continually says she is setting out to show “anyone” can be at a healthy weight, but she is also constantly ignoring her own privilege and other people’s experiences. Ironically, because she went to school for economics, she almost completely ignores any economic differences in people’s experience with weight maintenance.
Hopkins’ main motivation for her “experiment” in gaining and losing weight is actually economic; she is angry that Britain’s socialized medicine is paying for weight loss surgery and medical care for those who are obese and is convinced that obesity is going to bankrupt the National Health Service in England. Her attempt to show that financial status shouldn’t have any impact on being thin is pathetic at best. She claims that all a person needs to lose weight is to eat less and move more. She intentionally doesn’t go to a gym or a nutritionist, she buys a pair of tennis shoes and a pedometer, so, she rationalizes, anyone should be able to afford it.
First, while a pair of running shoes and a pedometer are cheaper than a gym membership, if you count every penny of your income like many people do, even a cheap $30 pair of shoes and a $15 pedometer can be a lot. The shoes and pedometer that Hopkins purchased look like they much more expensive than that.
Secondly, the TV show has shots of Hopkins running in a beautiful green park with running trails. I am pretty lucky that I live in an area that has a great trail next to it, although the weather seems a bit more extreme than what Hopkins experienced. However, there are many people who live in areas that are unsafe (due to crime, traffic, animals, weather) to run in and therefore are limited to either a gym membership, which is expensive, or walking in their house, which is boring and a lot harder to get the amount of movement needed to really burn calories.
Thirdly, there are many shots of Hopkins eating fresh food, such as salads, fruit, whole grains etc. These healthier items are much more expensive. For example, a package of six Ramen noodle bricks is about $1.50- 1.95 and is 2280 calories in the whole package. A bag of apples in Alaska for six apples can run $4-15 (depending on the variety) and are about 570 calories for the whole bag. If a person is trying to feed a family of six for lunch on a limited budget, a pack of Ramen is a more affordable, more obtainable, more filling, more shelf stable, and drastically less healthy option.
Speaking of more obtainable, many people live in areas that simply don’t have easily available fresh produce and dairy products. These food deserts are areas where there are no grocery stores in walking distance in urban areas (about one mile) or within realistic driving distances in rural areas (about ten miles). People begin to depend on fast food or convenience marts because they are closer especially when dependent on either walking or riding the bus to get to and from the store but they offer mostly prepackaged, shelf stable, unhealthy options. Imagine trying to walk more than a mile to the store with a cranky toddler or a baby after working a double shift, then walking back with enough healthy groceries to feed your family for more than a day. Now imagine, there is a gas station right across the street that sells hot dogs and chips. Which option is more appealing or even realistic?
Finally, Hopkins’ profession is as a TV personality and journalist (or more accurately, a professional troll). She said she finds it perfectly easy to get 10,000 steps in by 11:00 am. Well, that may be perfectly easy if you are making a reality tv show for a living, but if you have a desk job (or two desk jobs), time is a real hindrance for exercise. If you work 8 hours a day at a desk, commute an hour or two for work, how long does that realistically leave a person for exercise? What if you add in, like so many people in the U.S. living in poverty, a second job and a bus commute,
Not everyone has a groomed trail and a whole foods they can drive their car to. Not everyone has hours to spend on working out. Not everyone can even afford a pedometer, but once again Hopkins doesn’t understand that not all people can afford the shoes she walks in.