Read my lips: we are not obese...
Pleasantly plump or comfortably chunky maybe, but obese? Never! We are... Mediterranean shaped – so there! The recent calumny reported in both local and foreign media that stated categorically that we Maltese are officially the fattest nation in Europe made my blood boil. Says who?
And OK, even if we are, who wants to walk around looking like Woody Allen or Claudia Schiffer on a bad hair day?
I don’t know about you, but I am getting heartily sick of opening a newspaper, a magazine or switching on the TV... to see a never-ending panoply of stunningly beautiful, symmetrically contoured – thin – models and actors parading ‘perfectly’ before us.
All the girls are tall, skinny and gorgeous, of course, and with legs that stretch from the heels to infinity. All the guys are even taller, with well-honed pecs, square jaws and impossibly blue eyes. The rest of us never get a look in.
There are contenders lined up annually for something called “rear of the year”. And yes, you’ve guessed it, they mean “perfectly proportioned” and skinny rear of the year. Never the cuddliest r of the y... or biggest r of the y. Oh no, they eulogise on the perceived beauty of the perfect boobs, the perfect bum, the perfect pair of legs or the perfect pecs.
So I reckon it’s time to stick up for the rest of us, those like... well, myself, with less than flawless physical accoutrements.
So I thought, why not have beauty contests to laud the attributes of the more well-rounded: Instead of rear of the year, we’d have class... behind – or preferably a word that rhymes with class.
And here I have to nominate Doris, who works at the delicatessen in my local supermarket. It’s OK, I told her I would, and she agreed wholeheartedly.
She has got both the biggest and most rotund backside in the archipelago. It is truly awesome, a perfectly proportioned mound of adipose tissue. Indeed, it is so well-shaped it even flattens out on top at the back, so she could, with a little practice, balance a full tray of drinks on it.
But we men must also buck up our ideas when it comes to our own so-called physical imperfections. The perception of masculine beauty as some Adonis with long, slim limbs, a six-pack and a non-existent stomach may be fine for northern Europeans... and other less enlightened races; but give me short, fat and contented any day.
Possibly the defining feature of Maltese manhood – especially a Maltese man past his sale-by date – is the paunch. Yes, sure I’ve got one, but that’s not why I’m singling it out for appreciation.
We are far too critical of, what some might call, middle-age spread. And as a contender in the stakes of gut of the decade... I hereby nominate Bertu, my friend from Gejtu’s Bar.
Bertu’s belly is a thing of awe-inspiring beauty. It is vast and has prevented him from viewing his knees – or anything else below his non-existent waist – since 1987.
It is so enormous he can no longer drink his pints of lager sitting on a stool at the bar, ’cos his ample abdomen stops him getting close enough to his glass.
Bertu, like Doris, is far from embarrassed about his girth. In fact, he positively revels in its immense size. To quote him: “After all, I am the champion lager drinker of Malta – and you don’t attain that accolade without some collateral augmentation. This beer gut has cost me a lot of money, so why should I not be proud of it?”
But let’s return to the women: I have an aunt, Aunty Lina... a sweet lady but one with a ‘condition’ not unknown in women of a certain age. She has... how can I put this delicately?... rather large bosoms. So far so splendid.
But with the passing of the years, these... accoutrements... are no longer as pert and erm... uplifted as they were. In fact, her breasts are so low-slung, if she has to run for the bus, she keeps hitting them with her knees.
Her bras are not so much uplift – as fork-lift. But hey, why worry? Celebrate them, make them a source of wonderment.
Like all the other Maltese physical characteristics, it really is time to shout from the rooftops: “This is what I’ve been given... get over it!”