Boris is already a portly gentleman. What if he had is-Serkin within driving distance?

The Skinny | No. 42 • Boris Johnson: National Fat-Shamer Supreme

Boris is already a portly gentleman. Imagine if he has Is-Serkin within driving distance?
Boris is already a portly gentleman. Imagine if he has Is-Serkin within driving distance?

What are we skinning? British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s determination to ensure his own population is markedly less fat than the Maltese one – a benchmark the UK is perilously close to reaching.

Why are we skinning it? Beyond the obvious pun on ‘skinny’ that all this entails? Well, mainly because the ensuing fracas triggered two national neuroses back into gear with one fat-shaming stone.

What are you referring to? Well, first of all – Malta’s worrying obesity statistics are – not to put too fine a point on it – the elephant in the room. An undeniable fact that needs addressing. Secondly, the reaction of the Maltese social-media sphere was also quite telling.

How so? It was very much characterised by the typical ‘nobody insults our country except us’  rhetoric that always rises to the surface whenever a foreigner says anything remotely critical of the Maltese archipelago.

But Boris is not just ‘any’ foreigner, is he? Indeed not: he’s the current prime minister of a former colonial power, which adds a further sting to the tale.

Emphasis on ‘former’. The Empire is a thing of the past. Yes, thank the gods that has been liberalised – I’m here for the memes.

Some good-quality memes came out of this, yes. The side-by-side comparisons to former bodybuilder Robert Abela were a low blow, though somewhat inevitable and even oddly charming. Who would have thought our PM’s chiselled physique would have been such a nationally unifying rallying point?

Careful. Yes, I know. Valorising LITERAL strongmen is where this already escalated situation goes belly up.

It wasn’t ALL memes and butthurt though, was it? It wasn’t, thankfully. If this can kickstart a more comprehensive discussion on how to deal with our ongoing obesity crisis, then I’m all for it.

Giving Brexit BoJo credit for something? Well, marginally stranger things have happened.

Do say: “While an instinctive degree of righteous indignation at Boris Johnson’s insensitive comments is understandable, perhaps the most productive response to them would be to open up a mature debate on obesity levels in Malta, and hopefully follow it up with concrete steps taken on a wide-ranging governmental and social level to tackle it. After all, the Maltese have proven adept at ‘flattening the curve’ on other matters. Who says we would be able to face the obesity challenge as well?”

Don’t say: “Boris is already a portly gentleman. Imagine if he has Is-Serkin within driving distance?”

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