Leading transgender icon Jodie Marsh was outraged this week when ASOS, the online clothing retailer, implied she looked like a man. She accused them of crassly “body shaming” a woman in a fragile psychological state. Sorry, wait, I’ve got that wrong.
Jodie Marsh isn’t a transgender icon: she just looks like one. When her career as a glamour model fizzled out, Marsh reinvented herself as an “extreme bodybuilder.” You know the type: a cartoonish figure tanned so dramatically that she basically looks like she’s ‘blacked up’.
Now there’s noise brewing from the Twitter police about the awfulness of a fashion retailer criticising the figure of a woman in the public eye. But hang on a minute. Let’s put aside the fact that this was obviously a light-hearted joke at the expense of someone who attention-seeks for a living, who ought to have thicker skin.
Let’s instead treat it as seriously as Marsh wants us to–and examine the facts. They are that Marsh has done grotesque things to her body and relentlessly publicised them via the press and social media. By anyone’s definition, she is ‘fair game’ for fair commentary.
Too often, the Left-wing language of victimhood–in this case, the term “body shaming,” which at its most unobjectionable seeks simply to reduce stigma around fat people–is used by celebrities who make extreme and very public life choices to insulate themselves from ridicule.
Marsh is a businesswoman who is well aware of the power of personal branding. And she has recreated herself in the image of a Victorian circus performer… for what? Self esteem, perhaps. But more likely, attention and commercial advantage.
She has profited from the freakish spectacle of dark brown body paint, fake boobs and gigantic biceps. Yet she’s incensed that someone might laugh at how undeniably peculiar she looks.
I mean, for Heaven’s sake, Jodie: the drag queen DJ Jodie Harsh who named herself after you looks more like a woman than you do these days.
The reason people snigger about Marsh looking like a man is: she does. A bit of lippy and an “up do” don’t come close to addressing the colossal and, let’s be honest, really quite disturbing transformation she has put her body through.
If people want to turn their bodies into vehicles for public exhibitionism (is there a better way of describing the bizarre cult of bodybuilding?) they are perfectly entitled to do so. But they can’t cry foul when others react to their outrageous provocations.
I mean, it’s not like Marsh herself doesn’t know what she looks like. She certainly spends long enough each day in front of her front-facing (read: selfie) smartphone lens, tweeting pictures of her odd physique.
Judging by the latest snaps, Marsh has spent hours enough in the gym to last a lifetime. Perhaps it is time, if I may be indelicate, to swap the dumbbells for the therapist’s couch, and to work out what drives a beautiful woman to turn herself into an object of pity and scorn.