When is size 12 overweight? When it's the size of a celebrity splashed across the front cover of a magazine. Hannah Jones reports
WHAT does it take for an artist to be taken seriously?
I mean really seriously - the kind of seriously that doesn't depend on who they're going out with, the size of their bank balance or if they can pinch more than in inch.
What will it take for people to say Catherine Zeta-Jones is a really great actress?
An Oscar on her mantelpiece hasn't quite done the trick, as the media is still more interested in how many wrinkles hubbie Michael Douglas has, if our Cath is sporting a fringe or not, or if she had lessons to get that Welsh-hued Atlantic drawl just right.
What she does on camera is almost secondary to how she lives her life.
Luckily, the papers don't have to worry about her putting on weight, but can you imagine if she did?
You just see the headlines now - "Zeta eatsa her own bodyweight overnight."
But with a body to die for and genetic make-up which should be bottled, she's not going to have to put up with the constant jibes and acerbic asides about her size.
Yes, she has a bosom - but she's never going to be called buxom because of it.
Which brings me to the subject of our other national treasure, the "fuller figured" Charlotte Church.
Now when I say "fuller figured" I am talking about a size 12 here. I'm not talking a size 14-16 or "roly poly" 18-20.
But I am talking without the aid of my celebritese goggles, which zones in on the international language of euphemism.
What's our Charl got to do to prove her talent scores more than her dress size?
Has she got to be one of the biggest-selling UK artists of last year? Check.
Has she got to prove that she's made the transition from Voice of an Angel to serious pop star? Check.
Has she got to be nominated for a Brit Award as a potential Best Female of the Year? Check, as of Monday.
None of this really matters of course, because people would rather read about our Charl, the girl who proclaims she's a "natural fat girl", being lambasted for having a problem with her weight.
The charge has come from top celebrity magazine, Heat.
In this week's issue they've printed a relatively old and unflattering picture of Cardiff's finest on the front cover in a relatively unflattering pose.
Taken from a Top of the Pops angle - you know, like the snapper is sitting on the floor looking up into the folds of your double chin - she certainly doesn't look like a skinny girl.
But she still, even in skin tight jeans, cropped white T and bright gold shrug, looks a size 12. She'd need the use of magic House of Fun mirrors to turn her into a lump of lard.
The writers of Heat, once they hooked you in with their "Charlotte's Weight Battle" front page headline, take a more softly softly approach inside the magazine.
No longer is the singer a thunder thighs, but a "normal" girl whose weight, just like everyone else's, yo-yos.
Hello? That's what's called being a woman.
I'm flummoxed by the current coverage of so-called "curvy and voluptuous" stars like Charlotte.
On the one hand we're told that looking super-skinny is now deemed bad by the media (as well as all doctors, nutritionists and mums up and down the country), but why do magazines think simply adding the word "curvy" to a picture caption will make it seem as if they're genuinely featuring fuller figured celebrities on their pages? Let's look at the evidence again.
Zeta-Jones's already mentioned, and Beyonc and Jennifer Lopez are known for their "big" bottoms. But the last time I looked out of my fringe of jealousy, they were still the owners of itsy-bitsy sized derri res.
I for one am pleased to see skeletal celebs chastised, but claiming normal sized women like Charlotte have a weight problem just because they go from a size 10 to a 12 is not an improvement. Remember this simple equation - the opposite of Nicole Richie Hilton is Bella Emberg, not Jessica Alba.
We'll leave the last word on the subject to our "curvy", Chinese food-loving, bacon sarnie-munching, Cheeky Vimto-swigging Crazy Chick Charlotte Church.
As she puts it, "I'm happy with my figure."
And so she should be - she's a perfect size 12.