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ALISON BOSHOFF: Plus-size model and ‘fat activist’ Honey Ross publicly shamed her famous parents

Her 30,000 followers on Instagram already know that Honey Ross, the 23-year-old daughter of broadcaster Jonathan and screenwriter Jane Goldman, is ‘in love’ with herself and her body.

Her feed is composed of picture after picture of her in her underwear, or partly naked, accompanied by often witty descriptions about how great she feels about herself.

‘If you see my whole t*t in this heat, keep it to yourself,’ she writes in one post.

Another is titled: ‘A serene fat jewess enjoying some nature.’

At size 18, she points out that she is at the ‘lower end of the scale’ when it comes to plus-sized influencers; however, she has become one of the loudest voices in the movement.

She says women often tell her that thanks to her campaign for body positivity, they have worn a bikini for the first time, or felt at home in their bodies for the first time.

‘Fat is not a feeling,’ she says. ‘I don’t feel fat because I am fat; that’s who I am and I like how I look.

‘If all it takes for me to help someone is to post a nude picture, then I will. My parents are supportive of it, once they’d got their heads around it, and they are like: “We are really proud of you helping.” ’

Whatever your stance, seeing your daughter parade her naked form on social media to the inevitable ‘pile-on’ of commentary, must be a lot for protective parents ‘to get their heads round’. 

Also, it must feel strange for this hugely successful couple, who have been married 32 years and are said to be worth more than £30 million, to concede the spotlight to their youngest child.

On Tuesday, there was another shock when Honey appeared on ITV daytime show Loose Women, and criticised her parents for putting her on a series of ‘toxic diets’ as a teenager.

She told the panel: ‘They saw me, a teenage girl coming home saying: “I hate my body.” They tried to give me solutions to a problem I brought to them, which was to lose weight. 

‘They presented me with diets, and diets, as we know, don’t work and are absolutely toxic.

‘My advice to parents is keep that as far away from your children as possible. If you want them to have a good relationship with food and their bodies growing up, do not shame them.’

How do her parents feel about this public slapdown? Well, Honey says her mother has apologised to her.

‘Recently, my mother said sorry for the way they handled it when I confided how I felt about my body — and how she wished they’d had the tools to offer an alternative.’

And Jonathan seems equally considerate and chastened by his youngest daughter, and her opinions.

After hailing writer J.K. Rowling as ‘both right and magnificent’ earlier this summer for her stand over gender identity, he quickly revised his views after a dressing down from Honey and her older sister Betty, who came out as gay as a teenager.

He wrote on Instagram: ‘Those who know me will concede I try to be thoughtful and not a d**k.

‘Having talked to some people (OK, my daughters) re my earlier tweet, I’ve come to accept that I’m not in a position to decide what is or isn’t considered transphobic. It’s a wildly sensitive subject. Let’s keep talking.’

So who is this bold young woman who can make a notorious iconoclast and rabble-rouser such as Jonathan Ross so desperate not to cause offence?

Witty and articulate like her father, and a talented writer like her mother, Honey has become a prominent advocate for ‘fattivism’. 

She hosts a podcast, The Body Protest, and is involved with various campaigns and initiatives, including the Pink Protest, which she founded with her friend Scarlett Curtis, daughter of screenwriter Richard and his partner, Emma Freud.

On the face of it, of course, Honey Kinny Ross was born with every privilege and shouldn’t — you’d think — have an awful lot to rebel against.

Her parents adore her and her siblings, Betty Kitten, 29, and Harvey Kirby, 26. 

The couple have one of the strongest marriages in showbusiness, having met when Jane was a precocious 16-year-old journalist covering an event at Stringfellows. Jonathan had just started filming his show The Last Resort.

Home is a huge, £4 million house in Hampstead, with a menagerie of animals. 

A friend once described Jonathan and Jane’s parenting style as ‘they regard themselves as being very bohemian and very open with each other.

‘The children are more like friends than kids, and the only rule there appears to be in the house is that they take turns to walk the dogs.’

Honey went to a private school and holidays were taken at their second home in Florida. From an early age, Honey would go to recordings of her father’s chat show and get to meet his A-list star guests.

Not, perhaps, the most likely beginnings for an activist trying to start a revolution.

But, as she has since explained, it was obvious from her earliest youth that she was never going to be one of what she calls ‘the pixie women’ — the skinny A-listers who appeared on her father’s show.

Both her parents have had their own, separate issues with food over the years and have spoken often about their struggles with weight.

The now voluptuous Jane was bulimic as a teenager and lost around 3 st on a version of the Atkins diet about a decade ago.

Jonathan has been on numerous diets and once took up barefoot running to keep the pounds at bay.

Jane told an interviewer in 2008: ‘We have both had periods when we got absolutely huge because we love food. We are pretty relaxed about it and feel strongly about the negative pressure to be thin.’

They were not, though, able to spare Honey from feeling that same negative pressure.

When she was seven, she was diagnosed as severely dyslexic and sent to a new school to aid her literacy. 

She began picking up a Starbucks cheese and Marmite panini to break up the misery of her ‘tearful’ commute across London.

She wrote: ‘I noticed a shift in the way people began to perceive me about three months into the new school.

‘Previously, adults had told seven-year-old me that I was so tall I could become a model — that “compliment” soon dried up. 

‘I started to notice other things, too: buttons pulling, soft little rolls on my stomach that shop mannequins seemed to lack. Even then, as a child, I knew the body I’d started to develop was not one celebrated by society.

‘My parents were raised, like everyone else, in a society where a rabid diet culture begets ingrained body issues.

‘So when they saw their funny, confident daughter retreating and transforming into a quiet and miserable girl, struggling to come to terms with her changing shape, they used the only tools that society had given them to try to help: diet and exercise.’

They tried to bribe Honey, aged nine, to exercise by giving her charms to hang on a bracelet. Paninis were banned — but she found that ‘demonising’ food only made her eat more.

By the time she was 12, Honey was a High Street size 14. Her parents suggested she tried Weight Watchers, and Jane even offered to go with her.

She recalls: ‘One night we order pizza, ready to watch Doctor Who, and I miserably nibble my allocated two slices while my thin, older siblings tuck in freely. 

‘I see my mum’s heartbreak as she tells me to have another two slices because “they’re very small tonight”.’

Because her parents are famous — Jane wrote X Men: First Class and the Kingsman films — Honey would attend premieres and photographs would inevitably appear online, leading to cruel comments.

‘I was body-shamed by strangers on the internet at the age of 13, and was told the best thing to do would be to say nothing, crash diet and quietly hate myself. And I did — and I did it well.

‘It nearly killed me. And even when I got to a weight that people considered socially acceptable, I looked in the mirror and I still hated myself.” ’

At 14, full of loathing for her body, she asked her parents to give her a personal trainer for her birthday, and had sessions four times a week. She also kept an ‘obsessive food diary’.

Several of her closest friends developed eating disorders, and Honey yo-yoed in weight in her late teens. 

At 17 she joined Jonathan and Jane on a ‘keto diet’, where carbohydrates are shunned to achieve fat loss.

But it’s at this point that she had what she calls an awakening, after noticing ‘photos of gorgeous, confident, stylish, fat women’ on social media.

She decided to change her mindset rather than her body — and try to change the way the world viewed her and people like her.

She said: ‘Here I stand as a size 18 woman who loves her body. I post photos of my bare bum cheeks on Instagram, gleefully expanding the sparse space of casual plus-size representation online. Simply existing joyfully is an act of protest.

‘I regret the time I wasted hating myself. I bought into the notion that my body was a work in progress, that all my problems would dissolve if I lost the couple of stone that kept my body from being societally acceptable. I had been sold a scam.’

She has recently undertaken modelling work for underwear brand Curvy Kate, and also walked the catwalk at London Fashion Week in February.

Now she believes that being fat has made her an icon of desirability. 

She said yesterday that one of the trolls who told her on Instagram that she was facing heart disease because of her weight had actually asked her out privately.

‘This may come as a surprise to many, but people fancy me,’ she has said.

‘Strangers and mutuals alike are privately trying to get my attention. But note the word “privately”: most of these men who message me would never publicly like or comment on my pictures — their desire for fat bodies is their dirty secret.’

She added: ‘In my experience, as a fat person, you’re either desexualised completely or oversexualised to the point of fetish.’

Honey believes that being plus-size is a ‘super power’ as she can see ‘who the scumbags are’ earlier than most. 

‘I’ve given myself permission to no longer settle for dehumanising crumbs and instead to ask for more — and I’ve received it. I’ve been lucky to find romantic partners who adore not only my body, but also my personality.’

And what a personality that is . . . Jonathan Ross, step aside.

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