Dawn French: If I can have sex, I'm not too fat
Many people have told Dawn French, both in person and anonymously online, that she is too fat, but as far as she is concerned, her weight is not a problem.
In a candid interview published in the September issue of The Australian Women's Weekly, the 55-year-old comedienne explains that as long as she can walk, swim, work and make love to her new husband, the number that appears on the scales doesn't matter.
"My version of too big is different to other people's perceptions of too big," she says. "I have my own rules about that. I must be able to walk. I must be able to have sex.
"I must be able to swim. I've got to be able to do my job and got to be able to walk my dog. Beyond that, it's really nobody's business but mine."
Dawn says she has been overweight since she was a child and has never let it bring her down.
She says she has always had high self-esteem and is shocked by the number of women who let their waistline determine their happiness.
"I have always been a fat woman," says Dawn, matter-of-factly. "There have been periods of my life when I have been fatter or thinner, but essentially, I've been a fat person all my life. And I have always owned that. I have never had a problem with it.
"It's something I attribute to my dad, who from a very early age, never allowed me to think I was any less for being a bigger girl. So I had armour, always.
"Without being cocky, I always thought I deserved to be loved properly and only by someone who really deserved me. Just because I am a fat girl doesn't mean I don't deserve the same happiness as every other woman or cannot make good choices about my life. And this isn't the case for a lot of big women. I have discovered and was very shocked by just how damaged is the self-esteem of many larger women."
Dawn says she was equally shocked when, after losing weight, she suffered a kind of public backlash.
After years of being the unwitting poster girl for the larger woman, it was as if her shedding a few kilograms constituted a betrayal.
"As my career progressed and I got a greater public profile, my being fat kind of made it okay for others to be fat," she says. "It allowed people to breathe in a way. But then what happened was that I slightly betrayed the fat club by losing a lot of weight.
"About three years ago, I dropped nearly eight stone [50kg]. And the thing that shocked me was how people reacted. Everyone wanted to know how I lost the weight, why I lost the weight, whether I had been paid to lose the weight, whether I wanted to write a book about losing weight. It was as if the fat I once carried was all that was interesting about me. I couldn't believe it. It was just some fat that was gone.
"And then when I put three stone [19kg] back on, it was as if I had swung back towards the fat club and everyone stopped freaking out. It was like, 'Dawn is fat and all is well with the world again'. It was as if people thought I couldn't be funny anymore if I wasn't fat."
Dawn is a judge on Australia's Got Talent, which airs on the Nine Network, Sundays at 6.30pm.
Read more of this story in the September issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.