You're probably a sociopath if you dislike Mary Berry. She’s been gracing British tubes since the 1970s (I seriously urge you to go tumbling down the rabbit hole of her glorious vintage cooking segments if you ever have a minute or 800 to spare). Berry may be best known stateside for her six-season stint as a judge on The Great British Bake Off, though she parted ways with the show rather painfully and publicly once the show jumped networks from BBC One to Channel 4.
The octogenarian has since been hosting a show of her own, Classic Mary Berry, on the former network since the beginning of this year. It’s an unimpeachably delightful show; Berry’s a magnetic presence.
But a good number of British viewers weren’t pleased with her comments on this past Monday night’s episode, the Telegraph reported on Tuesday morning. The episode featured Berry traipsing along the fishing village of Port Isaac in Cornwall, described within the episode as a “fish lover’s paradise,” with her friend Nathan Outlaw, a seafood chef whose restaurant Nathan Outlaw has two Michelin stars.
During the episode, Outlaw proclaims he’s a fan of windsurfing, an admission to which Berry expresses mild surprise. “You, windsurfing?” she asks. “You must go very fast… bit of weight on that board!” she says, laughing, gesturing downwards to imply that he is a large, heavy human. Later on in the episode, as Berry's making a barbecue spatchcock poussin with herbs and aioli (ooh la la!), she asks him how he crushes garlic. He responds that he simply smacks it with his palm and the side of a knife. "There's a bit of pressure going down there!" she says, patting his back, implying that his body weight has enough force to demolish garlic.
You may believe this is some gentle ribbing between two friends, but Berry's comments to Outlaw were perceived to be fat-shaming by some on British social media. The Telegraph (and various other British outlets) certainly drew this conclusion from a matter of tweets. "Wow how many times is Mary berry going to fat shame tonight!!" one viewer said. Another: "So, #MaryBerry thinks it’s funny to fat shame the chef when he says he likes surfing."
Neither Berry nor Outlaw has responded to immediate request for comment via email on Tuesday from MUNCHIES regarding what they make of these accusations. But the real story here may be that this isn't Berry's first rodeo with allegations of casual fat-shaming. In October 2015, she came under fire for arguing against the very idea of "large" people judging food competitions.
“You don’t want somebody who’s judging cakes to be large,” she said to the Sunday Times in an interview. “Or else people will say, ‘Look what happens when you eat cake’. I eat carefully because people don’t want to see a large person judging cakes.”
Er, yikes! Whatever she said to Outlaw is considerably tamer than what she said back then, which, truth be told, may best be left in the past. Let them eat cake, Mary.