Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Interview for the Sun (“My Face, My Figure, My Diet”)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: The Sun , 16 March 1979
Journalist: Katherine Hadley, The Sun
Editorial comments: 1230. MT’s next appointment was at 1500.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 1191
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Women


Margaret Thatcher reveals her special beauty tips

Margaret Thatcher runs herself like a machine. She has to.

Nobody complains about the cut of Mr Callaghan 's trousers.

Nobody tears him to pieces if he sounds like a pompous policeman.

Yet who would want a dowdy female fatty for Prime Minister?

After all, if a person can't control her weight, doesn't it occur to everybody that she may not be able to control other, more important things?

In her dark, mahogany office at the House of Commons yesterday, Mrs Thatcher outlined the stern controls she exercises on herself.

Never a doughnut passes her lips, never a sliver of delicious chocolate cake.

“I have no special dieting regime of meals, I just try to eat little,” she said, the famous school prefect voice soft in the work-quietness of her room.

“I don't have a big breakfast to give me energy for the rest of the day.

“Usually, I'm getting breakfast for my Denis Thatcherhusband and family.

“Often I have nothing but coffee with a dash of milk.”

Sometimes, like yesterday morning, she manages to grab half a grapefruit with no sugar before leaving her house in Flood Street, Chelsea, at 9 o'clock for the Commons.

It's not that she doesn't like sugar and sweet things. Oh, she does.

“Toast and marmalade.” she savoured the words happily. Words can't put a pound on the hips.

“Lovely toast and marmalade. I can never eat that.

“Now and then I eat chocolates, but I find it hard to stop at one.”

In our mind's eye, we both contemplated for a moment the dark luxuries of a box of chocolates.

Then the image receded as she said: “It's often best, you know: to do without completely. You can't indulge. It will sit on your hips.

Margaret Thatcher is 5ft 5in tall and takes size 14 in dresses.

Forthright, she says she weighs 9½ stone. Yet she is feminine enough to apologise, because perhaps it sounds too heavy.

Most women will know that 9½ stone is a jolly good weight for a woman of her height at 53.

If men are surprised, it is because women always lie about their weight.

At lunch, she eats a little meat, or fish and a salad.

“Not always lettuce.” She made a face. “There really is a limit to the number of lettuce leaves a person can eat, especially in the winter.

“I have no food fads, but there are things. I never eat. Oysters I never could eat.”

It's not that she minds the idea of little, live oysters wriggling down her throat. “They're just [end p1] so slimy,” she shuddered. “And I don't like whitebait, either. They lie on the plate and look at you.”

Breathless with near starvation we proceeded to the chief temptation of her day, official dinners.

Does she, like the Queen, eat so conspicuously little that everybody around her feels piggy?

“No, I don't go to such lengths,” she said. “No one would ever know. Never, never make a fuss about a diet.”

Wine is no problem. She just drinks enough to do the toasts. It's the bread rolls that get her. “They put nice bread rolls beside you,” she sighed. “And you try not to eat them, even if you are waiting a very long time between courses.”

She doesn't seem to need food to fuel her massive energy. Nor does she need much sleep, often going to bed at two in the morning and getting up at 7.30 am.

Her recipe for energy sounds painful but for her it works. Keep yourself hungry and cold.

“You're more alert if you've not had too much to eat and you're not too warm. The blood goes to your brain, and not to your tummy.”

Proud of her energy, she also enjoys the advantages of her age.

“You have more mental stamina, more energy, than when you are younger,” she said.

“It's like being a mountaineer. You know how to approach and overcome problems.

“The only problem with age is that you must be more figure-conscious. When I was your age. I could eat anything.

“Even 10 or 15 years ago I could lose 71b in a week.

“Now it takes me three weeks to lose 71b on my 60 units-of-carbohydrate-a-day diet.”

Her face, as well as her politics, will launch millions of votes in the next few months. It must always be so with a woman in politics, unless she makes the choice, as Golda Meir did, to jettison her femininity.

She has a pretty, English sort of face—silky, unlined skin, naturally cream and roses, framed by smooth, pale hair.

“From my teens. I've looked after my skin,” she told me. “I never use soap and water on it, although I come from a very soap—and—water minded family.

“However late and however tired. I use cleanser to get the make-up off, and then a good moisturiser.”

Mrs Thatcher's pale hair is dyed.

“I've tinted my hair—it's naturally mid-brown—for years,” she said.

“Now I have a rinse on the temple, where it's going grey.”

She is often the butt of puritanical criticism.

Can an intelligent woman really look so charming? If she does, then surely she's not a serious person.

“There is a nonsense about intelligent women not being beautiful,” she snapped. “There is no genetic link between brains and beauty.

“Most women are far more intelligent than people give them credit for.”

She is also the butt of speculation. Today, she looks so much prettier on television than five years ago.

Could it be that the Thatcher face has been lifted?

“Oh, no,” she cried, laughing. “I've never had a facelift. My face hasn't fallen that far yet.”

Suddenly, she was on her feet. “I'm going to show you something.

“Now look,” she pointed to her neck. “This is the worst bit on a woman of my age.

“If you lower your chin while giving a speech then you look all double chins.

“I have to remember to keep my head up all the time.

“But I also look better because I'm not so tense on television any longer, and tension does show badly in the face.”

Mass buying is her answer to the clothes problem.

“Lots of shoes, all double-A fitting, all at once.” she said.

Marks and Sparks send her a selection every now and then of the clothes she likes. They now know her taste back to front. The little brown number she was wearing was very M & S.

Don't those pale clothes she buys mark when people touch her on walkabouts?

She doesn't give a damn about the marks. “I love it,” she said. “Touching is an affectionate thing.

“I met a patient, the other day in a hospital near Truro. She looked at me and tears poured down her face.

“Every time she tried to speak there were more tears. I took her hand and we just held hands.”

At the end of the day, does she never feel like a soothing drink?

“Often I have a tiny whisky and soda, and I make it last a long time,” she said.

“Usually at functions, I just drink soda with a slice of lemon. I drink a lot of water.

“No actress has to use her voice as I do.

“The only thing to keep a voice going is water and more water. No medication will do it.”

I said, in that case, considering she was drinking so much water, could I ask her an impertinent question?

It evaporates,” was the smart reply. She grinned, and looked me firmly in the eye.