As if there weren't enough nails in the rivet-studded coffin of feminism already, along comes a bestselling diet book with which we can hammer in another one. This one, the charmingly named Skinny Bitch, by former LA model Kim Barnouin and former LA model booker Rory Freedman, got its boost from being publicly purchased by Victoria Beckham, the first lady of extreme-weight-loss regimes. The book advocates a punishing vegan diet, free not just from meat and dairy but from "liquid Satan" (to traditionalists, "fizzy drinks") and "crack cocaine" (those maintaining a normal relationship with food probably know it as "coffee") and couches its advice in unambiguous terms.
Barnouin and Freedman's world is divided into "skinny bitches" (good) and "fat pigs" (bad) and makes explicit many of the links between food and morality, weight and happiness that other diet books merely leave their readers to infer. For example: "Every time you put crap in your body, you are crap," and "Of course it's easier to socialise after you've had a few drinks. But being a fat pig will hinder you, sober or drunk." They make almost no pretence that their diet is aimed at improving women's health; it is purely about getting skinny - "saying goodbye to soda and hello to a sweet ass". All of which is either refreshingly honest or a shining example of female misogyny at its finest.
Sales of the book have increased by 20,000% since Beckham was seen buying it in an LA bookshop last week, which suggests two things. The first is that there are enough women still in thrall either to Posh Spice, the size-zero "ideal", or some hellish combination of the two to lift it from number 77,939 in the Amazon sales ranks to 209th in the US and 10th in the UK. And the second is that the formula "new dietary twist + skinny celebrity endorsement = fat profits for someone" remains unshakeable. The only appetite some women are willing to indulge any more, it seems, is their appetite for masochism.