I have this friend who likes to encourage me with my writing.
He thinks I should be writing a regular column for a national newspaper or magazine (so do I, as it happens). Last time I saw him, we were chatting and he said “there you go, you could be the next Liz Jones – the one people like!”
At first, I was a bit insulted to be compared to Liz Jones. She’s hated by many, and I don’t think much of her views on most things.
Then I remembered reading her book years ago. It’s called Liz Jones’s Diary: How One Single Girl Got Married and it’s filled with self loathing and disappointment. I remember at the time, I kind of related to her and the way she felt about herself. She’s no longer with her husband. Nirpal Dhaliwal had several affairs before they split up. She was largely portrayed as a neurotic harridan who drove him away with her weird habits and obsession with animals. She says herself she probably made herself unlovable.
I’ve been watching Celebrity Big Brother lately (oh, come on; you didn’t think I was high brow did you?) and there was a part in last Saturday evening’s show that really surprised me. The housemates were all getting drunk, and Liz Jones told them that she didn’t have sex until she was 32; and that her husband never once saw her naked. When asked why, she said it was because she’d always thought she was too hideous.
Liz Jones has issues on her issues. In her 20s she apparently didn’t want to have sex until she was 7 stone 12. She barely eats; she has ridiculous rules and rituals. She is, to all intents and purposes, a mental. She has never eaten a whole bar of chocolate, a whole avocado, a whole banana. Bananas? For fuck’s sake! BANANAS! My bloody toddler gobbles down a whole banana while she’s waiting for me to cook her breakfast!
But I can completely relate to some of what she’s said. The first time I had sex I was almost 18, and I don’t think that boyfriend ever saw me naked. Throughout my life I’ve been plagued by the belief that I was ugly. I never understood why people were kind to me. When I was about 21 though, I went out with a man who seemed so gloriously oblivious to what others might think of him, I was completely in awe. I once asked him his secret, and he told me: “Nobody is ever going to notice that spot on your nose, because they’re all too busy worrying about the spot on their own nose.” That has stuck with me; I repeated it to myself like a mantra throughout my twenties.
When I stop and think about it, I feel desperately sorry for Liz Jones. I sort of look at her and think, “this is what might happen if you don’t sort out your confidence issues.” There but for the grace of God. I could very well have ended up like this. I have no idea what stopped me. I think I just don’t have the self control. The woman has been teetering on the edge of anorexia (and probably often half way into the abyss) for 40 years. This woman has spent 30 years not eating after 7pm. At all. Ever. For thirty years.
While I was researching this post, I found a quote from her on the Mail website:
I was always fearful of getting pregnant because the thought of my stomach growing fat, of stretch marks and a big bum, was not a price I was willing to pay for a child. The whole process seemed messy, dirty, greedy.
I almost cried when I read that. How utterly, utterly sad, to miss out on having a child for what is ultimately such a fucking stupid reason. That poor woman. She’s spent 40 years rigidly controlling what she eats, being skinny and wearing designer clothes, only to find – by her own admission – that it’s made no difference. She is miserable and alone. And she’d rather be thin than happy.
Now I’m kind of thinking perhaps she writes such incendiary pieces because she wants the public to reflect the hatred she feels for herself. Perhaps, since she finds herself so disgusting, she just expects that from everyone else, and so does whatever she can – consciously or not – to illicit that response.
I think I probably do that too, sometimes. Definitely not to that extent, and definitely not as publicly as having a go at Holly Willoughby in a national newspaper. But I do. I sabotage relationships all the time without realising what I’m up to until much later. I have little respect for people who say they love me because ultimately, how stupid would one have to be, to fall in love with this.
I’m working on all of that though. I don’t want to be the next Liz Jones. I want to be better than her! (And fatter. With better boobs.)