Ashley Graham: Size 14 women are 'obese and heading for diabetes', says former Tory MP Edwina Currie

'I don't think she looked incredible. I think she looks unhealthy'

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The Independent Online

Edwina Currie has sparked outrage after calling a size 14 model "obese", "unhealthy" and "heading for diabetes". 

The former Tory health minister provoked an angry reaction after making the claims about Ashley Graham, the US lingerie model who has become a poster girl for the body-acceptance and fat positivity movements.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, where she had been invited to discuss the size 14 model Jess Greaves, who has claimed that photos of her have been digitally altered to make her look curvier. 

The 69-year-old ex-MP said: "It seems to me that plus-size models - and extolling them and making it seem normal to be obese - is just asdangerous and unhealthy as the zero models, the very thin ones."

"Whether it's attractive or not it's unhealthy," she continued, pointing to a photo of size-14 Graham. "If you're that sort of size, and I'm not as slim as I should be... you're heading for diabetes, hip problems and knee problems."

The show's host suggested that Graham was a role model for many women, but Currie continued: "I don't think she looks incredible. I think she looks unhealthy. If you're that sort of size... you're doing your pancreas an awful lot of damage."

Graham is a spokesperson for the Health at Every Size moment, which "supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control)."

Currie's remarks, which fly in the face of a growing consensus that women deemed "plus-size" often have perfectly healthy bodies, were heavily criticised:

Last year, a study indicated that fat acceptance improved public health, whereas a focus on obesity tended to increase overeating.

As a Conservative MP from 1983 to 1997, Currie developed a reputation for making headline-grabbing claims. She stated that "good Christian people" did not contract Aids, maintained that pensioners who couldn't afford their heating bills should simply put on a jumper and said that Northerners died of "ignorance and chips."

She has forged a media career since leaving Parliament, and revealed in her 2002 memoirs that she had a four-year affair with the former Prime Minister John Major during her time in office. 

Currie appeared in I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here in 2014, the 2011 series of Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Wife Swap in 2006.

In 2012, she argued in a radio broadcast that it was now "fashionable" to be overweight.