Sometimes I despair of the world of journalism, even though I've been part of it for over 40 years and even though most of the time, I think it can be a powerful positive force.
But when it comes to people - particularly women - and when it comes to weight, many writers and commentators in the UK (and across the world, as far as I can tell) should take some of the blame for giving too many of us a huge chip (pardon pun) on our shoulders about the way we look and what we weigh. Worse, these observers can never make up their minds about what IS the 'best' 'right' way to look. Is it worse to be thin? Is it worse to be fat? Is it good to be relaxed about your weight, or bad?
Every day of the week, every week of the year, you can see the dichotomy at work. There's Hillary Clinton being castigated for putting on a bit and giving the make-up a rest. Then there's Alexa Chung being told off for getting thinner - having been elevated for the past few years as a wonderful role model for young women even though she'd been little more than a stick in all that time. Whether you're fat or thin you just can't win, if you believe what you read.
No wonder that June has been the month of a spate of reports which have found that over 90% of women in the UK dislike the way they look, and that eating disorders are on the rise - particularly in people in mid and later life. We're succumbing in our hundreds of thousands to bulimia, anorexia, bingeing and the many varieties of body image problem - well that's fine by the pundits too, because they can write about that as well.
Even the truly gorgeous amongst us apparently have body image issues too. Natural beauty, natural slimness is no guarantee that you'll love the way you look any more than us normal mortals do, apparently.
Of course it isn't just the journalists' fault. We're frightened to age, to carry a bit of a belly or a jelly wobble, and when we manage to lose weight or keep it off we worry instead about the wrinkles and the sagging skin - and a lot of this is fed, deliberately, by the thousands of companies (cosmetic enhancement, cosmetics, diet products, special foods, slimming underwear, the list is vast) making huge amounts of money off the back of our insecurities. We've got to keep up! We've got to stay ahead of the game! So you're 70 - so what, get a grip, woman, you're losing your looks!
I'm 62. Isn't it time to be kind to myself and do a Hillary Clinton? Or do I still need to make the effort? I've never had an eating disorder but I admit that there is rarely a day that I don't worry about whether I've eaten too much, done enough exercise, whether I can see that slimmish waist I fought so hard to earn a year or so ago, filling out. The only thing I've not worried about for one day, since I was about 25, is that I'm getting too thin!
So what can we do? There's no easy answer - but my gut feeling is that we older citizens, from middle to old age, should be role models for the young and show that all we care about is eating well/healthily, and getting enough exercise to keep ourselves fit and as disease/ailment free as possible, for as long as possible (without having to part with huge sums of money along the way). That's all that really matters, after all - the rest, as they say, is just decoration.
Catch up with Judith Wills' Diet Challenge blog entries.
Join the discussion on Saga Zone forums
Judith Wills' Saga Zone thread.