by Liz Smith

In Great Britain, for as long as Prime Minister Tony Blair was in office, it was great sport for the English press to make fun of his wife, Cherie Blair.

I suppose this is nothing new — ever since men rose to power in the world, the masses have enjoying taking shots at their mates.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a whipping boy for F.D.R.

Nancy Reagan took her shots for conferring with astrologers and gazing too lovingly at Ronald Reagan as well as for pillow-talking about what he should do.

Hillary Clinton can’t escape even now from having stayed with Bill and her every mistake has been magnified. So far as I can think, only Clementine Churchill survived being wed to Winston without too much flak.

Now I see that some of the savage British press referred to Cherie Blair, who just departed 10 Downing Street, as “menopausally fat.” (Other epithets such as “gargoyle smile” and “wicked witch” don’t seem half as insulting as that.)

Are some of us in the distaff world menopausally fat? I suppose so, but couldn’t we just blame that on growing older and being more careless of our health and not on poor old queen Menopause?

These thoughts reminded me of a wonderful book I want to recommend by the writer Wendy Shanker. In 2004, Bloomsbury published her “The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life.” (Here’s an excerpt.) Making note of the use of the word “girl” in the title, I nevertheless recommend this work for those of us who sometimes wish we were still “girls.”

You can get this little wonder, of course, on and it is a diverting and encouraging read. Wendy is described as “a fat girl who has simply had enough — enough of family, friends, co-workers, women’s magazines, even strangers on the street all trying (and failing) to make her thin.”

Wendy is a good-looking soul and she hasn’t given up entirely on counting calories, exercising and trying to exercise self-discipline. But she points the way to reality — don’t let the obsession to be thin ruin your life and your peace of mind. Try to come to grips with reality and enjoy yourself no matter what you may weigh.

Menopausally fat indeed! Menopausally inclined toward realistic living.

Liz Smith is a columnist for the New York Post and author of “Natural Blonde” and “Dishing.”

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  • Dr. Pat Allen July 12, 2007 at 9:32 am

    I often want to ask women who say menopause made them fat exactly what they mean by that. We tend to find a new excuse for weight that won’t disappear, but the basic facts about weight loss do not change:
    – We must burn more calories than we consume.
    – As we age, our metabolism does slow down and we may develop some insulin resistance.
    Women in particular need to change the way they eat and monitor the calories they consume. It really matters that we know what we eat, how much we eat and when we eat it. Frankly, if most of us over 40 ate what the USDA recommends, we would all be overweight! A Western diet should rely more on complex carbohydrates (forget the white bread), nutritious greens and low-fat/high protein options.
    So, it is not about “menopausal fat”; it is acknowledging that as we age, our bodies burn fuel less efficiently and we have to develop new patterns of eating and exercising to avoid the consequences of being overweight.

  • Laura Sillerman July 12, 2007 at 9:27 am

    This entry by Liz Smith, our favorite “Octopausian” (she’s 84 and has never lost her adolescent zest), illustrates perfectly why we and the world love Liz’s lips on any topic — and why we’re hot on her heels for more contributions, opinions and wisdom.