A new Dawn

The UK’s tabloids went into a major lather last year when comedienne, writer and actor Dawn French was snapped at the Galaxy Book Awards ceremony having obviously lost weight. “Dawn looks hot”, said one red top. “It’s a new dawn”, another in Punsville quipped. “Her ex-husband Lenny Henry must be kicking himself now”, said one television presenter – I cringed especially at that one.  “Some people look drained when they lose a lot of weight, but she doesn’t does she?” beamed another.


Photo: Getty Images

Let’s get something straight here. Dawn French has always been generously proportioned and embraced her size; after all her autobiography is called Dear Fatty, so it’s not as if the woman suffered from self-denial when she was heavier.
People – and the press – have always made a bigger deal (I do apologise – I seem to be going down the pun route myself here) of it than she has, despite her well-publicised adoration of chocolate and flying the flag in many ways for full figured women out there. She always said plus size women can be just as sexy as thinner ones.  And she’s right.

Dawn, from what I can make out, hasn’t been on a diet as such, just started to eat more healthily and take exercise. Both are rational sensible things to do. She’s lost a few stone by this method and good on her, I say. I understand her weight loss being the focus of attention – she looks wonderful, but then she always did. What I can’t comprehend is why fingers are being pointed gleefully and nastily at her.

“No one can be that happy being so fat”, said one commentator.  Another paper pointed out the ‘downside’ of losing weight – loose skin. When I read that, I imagined some paparazzo desperately shimmying up the drainpipe outside her bathroom trying to get a shot of her in the all together just to prove the point. Some have even offered the view that Dawn French has let curvier women down, that she has failed us in some way. No she hasn’t.

And neither have Nigella Lawson and Ruth Jones (who played Nessa in the sitcom Gavin & Stacey). Both have lost weight over the last year, the latter in particular will always be a full figured woman – and looks fabulous with it. The woman gets it in the neck when she’s bigger and when she’s slimmer as well. She can’t seem to win. It’s judgemental and makes all women feel bad about themselves.

Dawn French is still her beautiful curvaceous self. Hardly a size zero and even if she was she’d still be gorgeous. I’ve got news for people having a pop at her – women come in all shapes and sizes, it’s nothing new. Hardly a revelation, you’d think. Dawn looks healthy and happy, which is the best way to be.

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  1. A rare voice of sanity and warmth in a debate which is more known for being poisonous and plain nasty. Women are free to be all shapes and sizes, or should be. Of course, health comes into it. But it’s not likely to help people’s health, emotional or physical, when their looks are held up to scrutiny 24:7 and in such an unkind way. I don’t care how famous or rich someone is, no one wants to hear themselves scorned. Dawn French is incredibly funny, that’s the ‘biggest’ thing about her. In my life she’s given me more pleasure than any number of self-appointed health and fitness ‘experts’. Why is her size even an issue? But given that it is, and that’s undeniable, it’s great to have a rational and intelligent comment about the whole issue. Thanks Cath and thanks Hello for giving this voice a platform.

  2. Thank you, Cathy for your kind comments. Dawn has always been gorgeous whatever her size and as you say she’s a wonderful actor, writer and comedienne – one of our best. I wish people would concentrate on her wonderful talents instead of making horrid remarks about whether she loves cake or not!

  3. the autobiographie is called “dear fatty”. but fatty is jennifer saunders, not dawn french. please read a book before you quote it.

  4. I will right away clutch your rss as I can not to find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please permit me recognize so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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