Does overweight really mean overlooked?
According to Paul Yarrow it does.
Forget oil spills and Afghanistan, what caught my eye in the media last week was the story of Mr Yarrow (pictured above). He’s the guy at the back of the picture looking pensive and frustrated as if, to quote Russell Howard, he’s taking a tricky shit.
Apparently he’s been popping up like a pale bulby version of the witch from Chorlton & The Wheelies in a lot of the outdoor news broadcasts that the BBC likes to hurl at our telly’s in their attempts to keep us informed and up-dated about the various news items that make our world such an interesting place to live in.
Shove a camera, a boom mic and an anchorman outside Westminster and there Paul Yarrow will be, floating in the background like the inevitable anomaly in “Picture B” of a Spot The Difference picture competition.
A quick news podcast outside the magistrate’s courts and Paul Yarrow will be dynamically standing still in the background, usually to the left of the guy holding the microphone, not saying anything but ready, Goddammit, for anything.
Now this isn’t a real life Where’s Wally viral. No. This is a campaign. This is a media war. This is the start of a big movement (and no, I’m not talking about Russell Howard’s tricky shit).
Paul Yarrow, in his own words to the Evening Standard, said: "It is a statement about the image conscious media. I am overweight and people like me are treated as unsightly because of the way they look.
"I could have a valid point about something but the microphone is always passed to the person alongside me. The point I am making is that the more you push me aside, the more I'm going to be determined to make my presence known."
Now, while I admire Mr Yarrow’s stance and his campaign to give a voice to the voiceless I can’t help wondering about the effectiveness of his crusade. Because, to be honest, standing at the back of a news reporter who the viewer will be concentrating on so they can ingest the information, is not a particularly good way to get noticed and, more saliently, to get taken seriously – which surely is the true aim of Mr Yarrow’s campaign. As it is he’s become something of an internet joke. He’s in serious danger of truly becoming a real life Where’s Wally.
And is he really doing this on the behalf of all overweight people? Do overweight people really need Paul Yarrow gurning in the background of news reports to make them feel more taken notice of? More to the point, are overweight people really ignored and overlooked in our society in the first place? Are their opinions and their intellect truly counted as worthless?
‘Cos let’s be honest, when you look at most of our MPs, they’re all rather portly to say the least. Being overweight is plainly no bar to political acumen. I suspect also that a good deal of our richest businessmen have supped deep of the fat of the land and have a few spare tyres rolling about the place – usually between the ribcage and the pelvic floor. And does being overweight ever stop you getting on the telly? Of course not. I bet we can all name 5 celebs who could be deemed as being overweight.
In fact here’s 5 for you now straight off the cuff.
1) Ruth Jones (who I’d even say is a bit of a fox)
2) James Corden
3) Dawn French
4) That gingery fella from TimeTeam
5) The annoying opera guy from the GoCompare adverts
OK. So maybe 5 was a bit much. But my point is this: how much is Mr Yarrow’s campaign for the benefit of others and how much is it to satisfy his own personal need for recognition and validation? Because, let’s be honest, we all feel overlooked and ignored sometimes – regardless of our metabolism – but we don’t all throw ourselves under Jon Snow when he’s performing a to-camera monologue for ITN.
Mr Yarrow’s campaign seems a bit... well, shabby and ineffective. There’s nothing to identify his cause – no banners, no sloganeering. He could just as easily be protesting about the fact people with bad hair get ignored by the media. Or people who wear polo-neck sweatshirts.
Let’s hear it loud and proud folks – equal rights for comb-overs who clothes shop at ASDA!