Which way to interpret the optics

With all the focus on the UK’s new PM and Chancellor, I hadn’t noticed their new Health minister until OH (35 kilo super slim yoga bunny) said this morning, “I’m not fat shaming but … (which of course meant the exact opposite) have you seen the photo of the new Health Minister in the NYT?” (on Truss’s RHS below).


However, she made me think about the optics - ie. should a health minister look like a super healthy exemplar, or should it be someone who looks like they have serious health problems?


I take it that 35kg was tongue in cheek, but I can’t tell how ironic you’re being.

Should the health minister be glowing with health? To me, it’s a job, rather than an aspirational vocation. If they can do a good job then it should make no difference, although it’s hard to imagine how someone in poor condition could maintain the energy levels required to be in government.

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I seem to remember that the Health Minister herself said something about not fitting the image.

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A lot of attention is given to politicians’ appearance - remember the tabloid outcry over Foot’s so-called donkey jacket at the Cenotaph?

More importantl,y how can someone who looks as though they have neglected their health over a long period make recommendations to the public about the importance of diet, exercise etc?

Conversely, one might argue that someone who looks as though they might have made considerable use of the NHS (or needs to) might be more informed about the system and the needs of patients.


One might hope that a Health Secretary with health issues themselves would be more in tune and empathic with the needs of others in a similar situation. However since Tory Health Secretaries rely on private health insurance that’s probably not the case here.

However, as a person she’s just another hypocrite IMHO.

“ She had previously tabled a motion in 2010 calling for mental health assessments for those seeking abortion, and she also voted against extending abortion rights to people in Northern Ireland.”



Perhaps someone could investigate and report some facts about the health of the Health Minister, rather than any of us simply assuming… suggesting… anything negative…


A rough calculation - 44.4521 kilos apparently


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Apparently, the woman is only fifty-two years old and from the photo seems in poor physical condition for her age. I don’t think one can easily dispute that and it’s reasonable to assume she has health problems. However, my point was a serious question about whether or not a health minister should look healthy or not, because there are arguments in favour of each position.

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Maggie de Block was the previous Belgian Health minister. I don’t follow Belgian politics sufficiently to comment but she was popular I believe.

Impressive! Now that’s a big’un!

But do you think she was popular for looking like she might be on the side of patients? As far as I can gather, tho’ it’s early days, the UK health minister’s ultra conservative ,but there’s been nothing on health apart from being against abortion (Catholic and single).

And people aren’t really addressing my sincere question of is it better for a health minister to look healthy or not?

I really don’t give a monkey’s about the appearance of a health minister.

I will, however, judge them on their pronouncements and policies and on that basis I think Coffey should not be allowed charge of a spoon of Calpol let alone the NHS.


Like _Brian, I gave my opinion, though obviously in my own way.

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What I see from her photo is that she is medically obese and that could be a serious issue for her.

She is only 52 and may well be in reasonably good health because of that, at the moment. But obesity at her age makes her 50% more likely to die young.

Is she already on regular prescription drugs for treatable conditions? Probably, I would guess. I was diagnosed with high BP in my 50s while I was lithe, and otherwise looking fit and well.

I caught a brief glimpse of her with reporters on TV and she was mobile and brusque as she sidestepped them and their questions, looking to be full of confidence.

Does her physical appearance set a good example for the job she’s got? No! But she’s there and she’s doing that job, and I hope she takes care of herself.

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I said no, but that was a gut reaction. It’s not an easy question to answer, but if she were my GP and I was obese and worried about my health, I might see in her someone who knows exactly how I feel.

But someone else might think the opposite - what does she know about weight loss?

For me, it’ll be a gut reaction, and not a reasoned answer.

If she does her job properly then that’s all that matters. Her size and shape are her business.

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And maybe crack open a bag of Hariboos to share.

What do your eyes suggest when you see the photos?
Thats open to all posters.

But also has no solution to my needs - physician, heal thyself.

I would suggest from the thickness of her ankles that she has fluid retention and is probably on some type of medication. Her weight may be due to the medication. My brother ballooned from a very slim 12 stone to 16stone when he was put on steroids.

We live in an incredibly complex world these days when it comes to weight. Fat shaming is a real issue and because of it what we are seeing is increasing acceptance of overweight people in the media. On the one hand, one might say “good we need to live in an inclusive society”, but it also means we are losing sight of what is a healthy weight and what it looks like in those around us.

My concern would be whether her advisers around her modify their language/message to her about the importance of healthy weight because of what they see and also how objective she herself can be about promoting the importance of healthy weight, exercise and healthy eating.

Is she a good example / a good role model? No of course not. But then a thin health minister can be prejudiced and intolerant of people who are overweight. It’s all to easy for the thin to dismiss the fat as “they’ve got no will-power” when, in fact food addiction is no different to drug addiction.

As I’ve said, the topic is incredibly complex.

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She looks like a sick woman to me, trying to do a demanding job while struggling with personal health issues.