Updated: Nov 2
Steve Allen isn’t shy of making a controversial comment and has a storm of fat shaming comments littered throughout his history. Recently he branded Tilly Ramsay as a “chubby little thing” live on air during his LBC radio show. Despite this very public comment scrutinising her appearance, he issued a private apology to her and is yet to address what he said in public. Though his personal response is more meaningful for Tilly, would it not be good PR to issue a public apology?
As I discussed in my blog two weeks ago, it’s clear that there is a link between social media usage and poor mental health, specifically towards body image. Therefore, it would be sensible to draw the conclusion that the younger generation are more aware of body inclusivity and the dangers of commenting on people’s appearance. Allen himself clearly isn’t part of this demographic, and probably doesn’t access the same content on his social media platforms as younger generations. It’s clear that he has no awareness of the dangers of commenting on people’s bodies due to his history of disgusting tweets where he regularly feels it necessary to launch very public personal attacks on celebrities which don’t fit the stereotypical mould of what the ‘celebrity body’ is. This leads me to question why LBC, where he is their longest running presenter, has facilitated him to continue to host his radio show with no repercussions? I understand that every now and then it can be nice to hear about news from a cynical perspective however his shows frequently feature his critical and derogatory comments about celebrities.
Though Allen may not care about his public image due to this history of comments, I believe LBC have missed a perfect opportunity to educate their audience on the importance of being kind in the digital era. By issuing a public statement, LBC can shine light on the dangers of speaking critically about people's, especially young women’s, bodies. Dr Alex George, who is currently the Youth Mental Health Ambassador, immediately wrote a letter to LBC radio informing them of repercussions of Allen’s comments. LBC could have responded perfectly by asking Dr Alex to speak on air about the prevalence of eating disorders and the “perpetual cycle of weight stigma” which still exists in the UK. They could have aired adverts about mental health charities such as Young Minds UK and Beated Support. But instead, they stayed silent. Whilst they have issued a private apology to Tilly, their silence has ignored the potential impact Allen’s words have had on listeners of the show.
Are they scared of losing Allen as a presenter? Or too ignorant to acknowledge they are in the wrong? Or perhaps they aren’t worried of these comments reflecting poorly on them as a radio station and possibly resulting in a worse public opinion? What do you think?