LIZ JONES: Fergie is right – women must throw off the shackles of self-hatred. Our endless obsession with how we look and what we wear is shameful
It is a true indictment of our society.
Sarah Ferguson revealed a few days ago that her mastectomy — she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 63 — has finally, FINALLY helped her overcome “years” of self-loathing.
Isn’t it shameful that it takes a woman a potentially deadly disease to put her life and priorities into perspective and realize what really matters?
To live. Watching her children and grandchildren grow up. Luck.
Sarah Ferguson and Diana on the balcony of the palace for Trooping the Color 1991. In her latest podcast, the Duchess of York says she has suffered from comparisons to her sister-in-law for years
Sarah pictured at Heathrow Airport in 1996. She says it’s only the shock of breast cancer that has allowed her to regain some perspective
When she joined the royal family around the same time, comparisons between the Princess of Wales, left, and the Duchess of York were inevitable. But Sarah says they were tough
She revealed on her Tea Talks podcast that she used to compare herself unfavorably to Princess Diana.
Understandable if your sister-in-law has porcelain skin, big doe eyes, and is as tall and slender as verbena.
Sara was and is beautiful. Arched, a vivid red head, eyes wrinkled with laughter.
Less verbena, more oak: strong, tenacious, unbending by whatever life threw at her, not least her ex-husband, Prince Andrew.
But this is what women do. We fixate on someone or something that we think is “better” than us.
There is always someone who is younger and slimmer. A new supermodel, a movie star, so to speak. And discover that we inevitably fall short.
Naturally, the closeness of Sarah and Diana, and the endless paparazzi shots in the press, must have exacerbated Sarah’s sense of inferiority.
She was below a critical level that few could handle. But it is an investigation that most of us have felt, seen and suffered to some degree.
Why is it that our beauty – how much we weigh, what we wear – is the only way we judge women? (And don’t forget the fanatics pointing out how white the parting on the Duchess of Sussex’s head is compared to the color of her face).
Sarah, left, and Diana hold their hats during the 1987 Epsom Derby
Sarah, left, and Diana join the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to view the fly-past commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1990 Battle of Britain. Diana holds Harry. Princess Margaret is on the far left
Diana, in the foreground, and Harry walk to church in Sandringham on Christmas Day, followed by Sarah and Prince Andrew
What about how nice we are, what good mothers, our intelligence, our philanthropy, our humor.
Even our courage, which, given the way Sarah handles her mastectomy and encourages women to get examined, she often possesses in abundance.
There’s a lot of interest in Body Positivity right now, which means we should love ourselves no matter our size or age.
Actress Florence Pugh touched on the subject in ELLE magazine last week, saying the reason she wears see-through clothes on the red carpet, revealing her delightfully small, young, perky nipples, is that we need to take ownership of our body, should be proud of it despite their faults.
But so far this only applies to women who are still conventionally beautiful.
People like the ‘extended’ (they no longer correspond to ‘plus size’) model Ashley Graham, or pop star Lizzo are brought out as inspiring people among us who are not so perfect.
But they are super-rich, successful, defying gravity and undoubtedly neglected, while true obesity confines so many women to their homes, to the shadows.
Real women waste their lives waiting to have the right shape, only to wake up one day and discover it’s too late.
I’ve wasted my life, since I was eleven, hating my body. I hid it under shapeless clothes. I didn’t do a Florence Pugh; I’ve had a breast reduction.
I never wore a bikini and never ate dessert. I exercised—jogging, pilates, areobics—until I threw up.
I never had kids or many boyfriends because I felt too horrible to want to replicate or reveal myself.
Children and grandchildren are what really matter, says Liz Jones. Here the Duchess of York and the Princess of Wales are pictured with their children in the gardens of Kensington Palace to celebrate Prince Harry’s seventh birthday in 1991
Many women would have felt uncomfortable being compared to a tall, petite dress horse like Diana, says Liz Jones. Here Diana is pictured at Heathrow Airport in 1996
Sarah talked about her feelings of inadequacy on her Tea Talks podcast
Today I have just been diagnosed with osteoporosis of the spine, largely due to my anorexia.
And like Sarah, it’s a wake-up call. Let’s not compare how we look with someone else.
All that matters is that we live long and healthy lives. After all, the fact that she was a beautiful, thin dress horse did not save Diana.
I do hope for Sarah’s sake that this is indeed the case, and she’s throwing off the shackles of inferiority, of never being able to meet the demands, and enjoying the (hopefully, very long) time she has left.