As 30-stone Sharon Hill observes, a surefire way to hurt a woman is to call her fat. ‘It’s a factual thing, isn’t it? It shouldn’t be an insult. You are fat or thin, just like you are tall or small.
‘But people use it as a derogatory term. Men say ‘You fat b****’, because calling a woman fat is the worst thing you can say.’
How must it feel to be the fattest of the fat, then?
‘I’ve had it all,’ she admits. ‘Greedy, fat lazy slob’ … ‘roll her back into the sea’.
‘Strangers have said ‘You disgust me’ or ‘Why don’t you die?’ I got it the other day at the petrol station. A woman shouted: ‘Oi, Fatty!’ The joke is she wasn’t even thin herself.’
What did she do? ‘I went home and fell apart. That’s what they don’t get. People think that if they tell me I’m disgusting, I’ll go home and look in the mirror and suddenly think: ‘Oh yes, gosh, I must stop eating.’ Don’t they see? The unhappier I am, the more I eat.’
If you could measure unhappiness, surely Sharon, who’s still just 36, must have been off the scale when she piled on so much weight that she was dubbed Britain’s Fattest Woman. At her heaviest, in 2014, she weighed an astonishing 48st 2lb.
It’s not an accolade any woman wants, although she quips: ‘I really should have been in the Guinness Book of Records.’
Two years ago, a Channel 4 team sought her out for a documentary about Britain’s fattest people.
There were memorable scenes showing Sharon having a toddler-style tantrum when her husband, Andrew, failed to cut up her cake exactly the way she wanted it.
She sulked when a psychiatrist emptied her kitchen of industrial quantities of chocolate and stuffed herself with more cake, all the while acknowledging she urgently needed to lose weight because of dangerous levels of fat around her liver.
But filming finished with an apparently happy ending, Sharon having lost 10st after surgery to reduce the size of her stomach, in a procedure called a gastric sleeve. She was on her way.
And yes, today, Sharon is even slimmer. She’s now lost an eye-watering 18st. However, as a new documentary reveals, Sharon’s current size has been hard won.
The Channel 4 programme, which re-tells her story then takes the action forward, reveals that she put back on a significant amount of the 10st she lost. It follows her through a second bariatric op, a mini gastric bypass.
Whether Sharon Hill’s issues with food are now finally resolved, and how far her life has truly been transformed, also come under the spotlight.
Today, some months after filming ended, Sharon is still on the big side of big. She wears size 26/28 clothes and bemoans that she’s ‘stuck around the 30st mark’.
As she points out, she’s just got another 18st to go, yet for the first time in years she has a shape — you can see her neck — and she can leave the house.
In the street, she remains a curiosity. She can walk only short distances and needs to use a stick, or her mobility scooter.
Only time will tell what permanent damage she has done to her still-young body. ‘I have sciatica. My joints are not good. But I don’t really know if it’s irreversible because I was always too big to have a scan.’
But she adds: ‘I’m starting to feel more like the person I was supposed to be.’