Female hands holding bitten hamburger and dipped French fries

    Career women don’t have time to eat healthily. Did feminism make me fat?

    13 June 2017

    Was it the prosecco that did it? Or was it the cheesy chips that made me fat? I often ask myself these questions when I navel-gaze at weekends. That is, literally navel-gaze, inspecting the newly-formed layers of tummy flab I’ve amassed.

    It wasn’t always this way. As a student, my buttocks were as pert as the apples in Alan Titchmarsh’s garden, and you could have ironed shirts on my stomach.

    But I have been replaced with a chunkier, hungrier version of myself. For the first time ever, my BMI has ventured into the orange section of the chart. I am, technically speaking, ‘overweight’.

    Like many women, I have constantly blamed myself for this transition into chubbiness; me and my insatiable appetite for carbohydrates and parties (two passions that sustain each other, if I’m honest).

    But now I know I shouldn’t have been so self-critical, as it’s actually feminism’s fault that I’m fat.

    And don’t just take my word for it, Rosie Boycott – Sadiq Khan’s food advisor – was the one to suggest it. Speaking at the Hay Festival recently, Boycott blamed women going into work for a decline in eating habits, and the nation’s subsequent weight gain. ‘Everyone gave up cooking’, she said.

    Tell me about it, Rosie, I thought when I first heard the words. Because what’s happened is that – whereas women were once traditionally homemakers – we are now so busy nurturing our careers that there simply isn’t time to conjure up meals for ourselves, let alone other mouths. As a result, we’ve increasingly turned to microwave meals, takeaways and worse (is there worse?) to get our fuel.

    I like Boycott’s hypothesis; particularly as something bigger than Space Raiders has to be responsible for the nation’s obesity levels, which have trebled in the past 30 years. Estimates indicate half the population could be obese by 2030.

    The consequences are grave; obesity has been blamed for a surge in diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and has put a strain on NHS resources. Estimates suggest it is responsible for about 30,000 deaths a year in the UK, 9000 of which occur before retirement age. So something’s got to be blamed.

    Her opinion really does chime with my own experience as a ‘career’ woman who’s only ever used a saucepan to check her mascara. I hate cooking. It’s so dull, and frankly I care much more about high-flying than frying. Thus I have turned to some functional alternatives.

    My real downfall is Pret. The sandwiches there are like meth to me; I stuff them into my face as if egg mayonnaise was my only reason for living. Not that Pret is particularly devious, but it’s certainly not given me the Britney Spears figure I dream of.

    I’m not sure what the answer to this feminism-related obesity is, anyway, particularly as cooking is such a drag, and I hardly want us to put our pinnies on and get back in the kitchen. Men are going to have to help out more, if they’re not doing so already, to even things out.

    As women continue to do well in the workplace, the problem can only get worse. And as Boycott points out, these changes are being replicated around the world: ‘Societies change, women start working, and the fast food and takeaways arrive’, were her exact words.

    Perhaps it’s better to be circumspect about all this; weight gain is a small price to pay for a better career. Especially when, should it pay off, women will be richer than ever – and able to afford things like chefs and personal trainers. Quite simply, if we keep going, we can handle our own obesity crisis.