Kenneth Tong is 27 years old and the scion of a wealthy Hong Kong family. He is a former contestant on Big Brother, whose psychologist allegedly described him as a “textbook sociopath”. It’s not entirely clear why his views should merit our attention, but attention he has now garnered; a series of posts on Twitter claiming that women should become “managed anorexics” rather than “be sub-par by being a plus-size”, a feat that they could achieve with his miraculous Size Zero pill. Of course they can.
Unsurprisingly, these bold assertions have attracted scathing criticism from intellectual heavyweights (Caitlin Moran and Johann Hari), middleweights (Lily Allen), lightweights (Rochelle from The Saturdays and Gordon Ramsay) and featherweights (well, me). It seems hardly worth saying that “managed anorexia” is about as sensible as a solution to obesity as “managed liver cancer” or “managed crack addiction” and that Mr Tong’s pills reek of snake oil (if that has a smell). His inane burblings are particularly offensive to anyone who suffers from anorexia or has known a sufferer, and generally odious to the human race.
His past actions suggests he is a colossal publicity hound, so perhaps none of this matters to him so long as he achieves that publicity. Indeed, in an ill-advised newspaper interview with Johann Hari, he proclaims that he hasn’t felt compassion for another person for a long time. That would be consistent with sociopathy, although personally I think until they dig up a few bodies from the Tong back garden, even calling him that dignifies him too much. He comes across as a bit wet for a sociopath, more like a sort of evil twin of Gwok Kwan who enjoys making overweight women feel unhappy in the way a school bully enjoys tormenting fat kids.
Of course, there are serious questions underlying this nonsense – female self-esteem and how it’s affected by images of ideal womenhood in the media, by the fashion industry and by stupid remarks by insensitive idiots. Unfortunately, none of these are issues I feel much qualified to pronounce on, beyond pointing out that there is an element of “Women beware Women” in all of this. Mr Tong is clearly a man, but so often the obsessive and damaging chatter you see in the media about thinness, fatness, dieting and beauty is by women. Why this is I really don’t know. Perhaps the Big Brother psychologist would know. Or Rochelle from the Saturdays.