Comedienne Dawn French never had a problem at poking fun at herself, particularly where her weight was concerned, and in her hit sitcom Vicar of Dibley, many of the show’s gags surrounded her character gorging on sweets and ice cream.
However, Dawn, having lost around seven stones in weight, is quite literally half the woman she was a few years ago, but in an interview with the Daily Mirror, she revealed that he weight loss had “nothing to do with self-esteem” or worries about how she looked.
Instead, Dawn said she decided to lose weight simply because of the health risks associated with obesity, and especially those that pertain to middle-aged women.
Dawn began the interview by pointing out that she doesn’t keep a precision track of her weight, and isn’t a “scales gazer.”
So when asked what her current weight loss tally is, Dawn told the Mirror’s Rachael Bletchly, “I really don’t know. I’ve never been a scales-gazer.”
She added, “I had lost about seven-and-a-half stone but then I put a bit on because I ate at Christmas and I haven’t really weighed myself since…
“So I’d guess it’s about six-and-a-half stones. I just did less eating and more exercising and I’ve kept that up. But I have more treats now.
“Christmas was very difficult because there were potatoes and hot sausage rolls and lovely things everywhere.
“I’m not a big drinking person and hardly ever have alcohol. Perhaps it’s not sweet enough for my sweet tooth.
“I have chocolate in the house but I avoid it because I like it too much and I’m weak willed. So it is best for me to see it as ‘against the law’. Except at Christmas time.”
And when asked about the motivation for her radical lifestyle change, Dawn said, “When you’re over 50 you have to pay attention to your health a bit [and] I want to be there for my kid.
“I have quite a lot of exciting adventures that I want to do, and I had just ballooned a bit more than I wanted to.
“I’ve never disliked myself, and my weight has had nothing to do with my self-esteem. I still refuse to dislike my old body.”
The “kid” she refers to is Dawn’s daughter Billie, who is now 20 years old, and of how she copes with “body image” issues, Dawn said, “She is a 20-year-old girl and like all 20-year-old girls that I’ve ever met she has all sorts of feelings about her body as I did when I was 20, but no more than any other kid.
“I listen to her and her friends all the time sitting round our kitchen table and they talk of little else than what they look like and stuff, which is a shame.
“Jen [Saunders] and I were talking about this the other day – how funny it was that at that age we thought we were hideous monsters.
“But we look at pictures of ourselves now from back then and we weren’t hideous monsters at all.
“It’s not just that we’re older now – we actually were lovely young girls just as they are lovely young women.
“You just don’t know that when you’re going through it, that’s the shame. But it’s definitely worse for girls today – because size zero has happened. I can’t begin to understand that.
“Why would anyone want to be called a size zero or even aspire to being a zero?
“I don’t even understand the thinking behind it, let alone the practicalities. What is all that about?
“But then I’ve never been in the world of ordinary dress sizes – and I’m still not. I’ve always been on the edges of that, since I was tiny. Tiny in age, I mean. I’ve never been tiny tiny.
“It’s just shocking and upsetting that my daughter and her friends feel pressure to be much thinner than they should be. Luckily Billie hasn’t suffered from any eating disorders, but some of her chums have and it destroys families.
“For me, whatever age or size I’ve been, I have rather liked myself. The shell is not the thing at all.
“Now people seem so bothered about how I look but I think it is only interesting for about five minutes.
“Then there are loads of other things to get on with.”
And finally, of what projects Dawn has in the pipeline, she said, “We may do a Christmas special of Roger and Val [the hit sitcom she starred in alongside Alfred Molina] but the last series had a perfect ending so we need to think how that would work.
“And I am going to write a one-woman show and go on tour next year.
“I don’t know yet exactly what it will be about and I really need to get on with it. But I am going to do it with a puppet of me – as if one of me on stage wasn’t bad enough.
“I’ll tell a story which may be about body shape but I don’t want it to be too on-the-nose and preachy.”
Dawn’s a real inspiration isn’t she?