Like so many British kids of the Nineties, I grew up with Kathy Burke. I belly laughed at her on Ab Fab and Harry Enfield, before I was even old enough to understand what I was laughing at. She was just this big, sweary antidote to bullshit. I remember being oddly transfixed by her as Waynetta Slob, a character who – admittedly – has aged poorly. But still, Im not sure anyone else on earth could deliver the line, “I am smoking a fag,” with such sheer comic genius. Funny women like Burke were the reason, aged about six, I told my mum I wanted to be a “chameleon”. I meant “comedian”, but the sentiment was there. (Until about a week later when I wanted to be a gladiator, because of Rhino from Gladiators).
Judging by the first episode of her new Channel 4 documentary series, Kathy Burke's All Woman, Burke hasnt changed. The premise is simple: Kathy Burke meets various women, running her hilarious gob about the beauty industry and modern feminine ideals. And as it turns out, 50 minutes of Burke taking a look at the current state of womens beauty standards – particularly the cosmetic surgery side of things – is worth watching for the quotes alone.
“Steam yer fanny? Fuck off,” says Burke, when she is introduced to the concept of a “vajaycial”; representing eye-rolling women everywhere. Because Burke – proudly “fat”, straight-talking, and eminently likeable – is basically the anti-Goop. Now in her fifties, she has become the nations “Nuclear Nana” (Burkes feminist punk wrestling alias). And if youre not desperate to sit down with her over a cup of tea and a plate of custard creams, basking in her uncut and expletive-riddled wisdom, you must literally be Gwyneth Paltrow.
While chatting to “Big Sue” Tilley – the subject of one of Lucian Freuds most famous portraits – Burke quite gloriously calls bullshit on Freuds truly David Brent-esque assertion that libraries should be “retitled beauty parlours” because learning things that makes you beautiful. “Very interesting,” she says, “from the man who fucked every woman that he met.”
Burkes first stop in All Woman is a visit to Love Islands Megan Barton-Hanson. As the latter sits in a whirlwind of hair and makeup brushes (a procedure she says takes hours), she tells Burke about her various cosmetic surgery treatments, from two boob jobs to lip fillers, all of which have cost her tens of thousands of pounds and landed her with endless “stick” from the public. This path began, Barton-Hanson says, with bullying at school, which prompted her to have her ears pinned back. Now, having done her utmost to conform to conventional beauty standards, shes received abuse, and even “death threats” for being “fake and plastic.” The two women discuss the ludicrous double standards at play here.
“I dont want young girls to have unrealistic expectations like I did,” says the former Love Island contestant, who assumed she could be physically sculpted into self-acceptance, but ultimately discovered that surgery “didnt fix anything.” Barton-Hanson is painfully aware of the irony of this statement – knowing she probably wouldnt have become famous if she hadnt played this game to begin with.
Burke later chats to the exact kind of “young girl” Barton-Hanson mentioned. She meets 20-year-old shop assistant, Laura, in a cosmetic surgery clinic, awaiting a breast enlargement consultation.
“You can never sort of win on a level of confidence,” says Laura, with a rising inflection that suggests genuine uncertainty. Burke tells her that shes gorgeous the way she is and, well, thats kind of that. As funny and compelling a presenter as Burke is, the programme lacks any kind of analysis or theory – other than our obsession with social media – to explain why women are under so much pressure to look beautiful.
There always seems to be a temptation for older generations to assume that “kids today” are somehow doomed. Throughout the programme, Burke says shes “worried” about young women and girls. And although this worry is completely understandable (and – we learn – the product of Burkes own issues with self-esteem, when she was in her teens and twenties), theres no real acknowledgement that the difficulties young women face today are basically the same as those theyve faced for thousands of years, if in different forms. Burke is grateful that she didnt have the likes of Instagram to contend with when she was young, but she still struggled with self-image. This first episode of All Woman only pricks the skin of an industry rotten to its marrow.
And while Burke talks about the beauty of fat bodies with “Big Sue”, the assumption seems to be that this kind of body positivity is exclusive toRead More – Source
The Scottish Labour Party is in crisis, and the Westminster mothership isn’t helping
What the hell is happening to the Scottish Labour Party? Its crisis – this abject and sustained coll..
What the hell is happening to the Scottish Labour Party? Its crisis – this abject and sustained collapse into near-obsolescence – is real and deep and profound and not obviously fixable. The party at Holyrood is in the hands of third-raters, a sort of soupy Corbynite claque lacking even the nous and brains of a John McDonnell or a Seumas Milne. It is treated with contempt by the mothership at Westminster, and is undergoing a talent drain of significant proportions. The future looks bleak indeed.
The ongoing scrap over the partys position on a second independence referendum has only further exposed the lack of authority of its Scottish leaders. First, shadow chancellor McDonnell used an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe to cause some shock and not a little outrage when he said the “English parliament” would not stand in the way of another indyref if Holyrood demanded one: “We would not block something like that. We would let the Scottish people decide. That's democracy. There are other views within the party but that's our view.”
The angry response from within the Scottish party, which has lost a sizeable chunk of its traditional vote to the SNP over the past decade, was not faked. Caught in a squeeze between the pro-separation Nationalists and the stridently pro-Union Conservatives, confusion over Labours position on the most controversial and hotly-debated issue in Scottish politics is seismically unhelpful. Having its position dictated by London is not a good look, either.
Richard Leonard, the Scottish leader, may have sought to correct McDonnell by restating his opposition to a second vote, but he quickly had the rug pulled from under him by Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn publicly backed McDonnells position and said that while he was “not in favour” of Scottish independence, “it's not up to parliament to block it”.
The calculation among Corbyn et al is as transparent as it is cynical. Whatever Labours route to power, it is likely to need the votes of the SNP to get there. Nicola Sturgeon has made positive noises about backing a Corbyn premiership, but her price is likely to be another independence referendum. The Labour leadership are clearly happy to sell their Scottish colleagues down the river if it gets them into No 10. The further suspicion is that they anyway hold no great attachment to the integrity of the UK, regarding its make-up as an imperial hangover. A united Ireland and an independent Scotland would mean an end to all that.
For some of us this merely confirms their gross unfitness for office, and while one can understand the SNPs position it would be hard to forgive Sturgeon, who has led a relatively moderate, centrist regime in Edinburgh, if she put the hard left into power at Westminster.
But ultimately this is Labours mess, and Labours doing. A former Blair-era cabinet minister had his head in his hands recently when discussing the state of the Scottish party. “I just dont know how we come back from this,” he said. Leonard has been a catastrophically poor choice of leader, nervy, pink-faced, lacking charisma, with no pitch to mainstream Scotland, unable to land a punch on either of the formidable women leading his main rivals. Even then, its not clear who could replace him and make much of a difference. Talent has scarpered from both the candidates list and even the parliamentary party – Kezia Dugdale, Leonards well-liked predecessor, who is still only 37, has quit Holyrood to run the John Smith Centre for Public Service at Glasgow University. If youre a bright, young thing looking to carve out a career for yourself in Scottish politics youd be advised to give Labour a miss.
As the next Holyrood election draws near, Labours only hope for a decent result in 2021 seems to rest on the possibility of the two main parties blowing themselves up. Early next year, Sturgeon must endure the trial of her mentor Alex Salmond, who faces charges of sexual misconduct, including attempted rape. Holyrood is reverberating to rumours that the First Minister will end up collateral damage in the case. “She may well be gone by March”, one senior SNP MSP told me. Meanwhile, Ruth Davidsons Conservatives have lost much of their momentum due to Brexit and the arrival of Boris Johnson in Downing Street, neRead More – Source
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