Where should a history of the body in art begin? I am not thinking of a dry history, but one that takes account of our own bodies and those around us? Because there seem to be a lot of bodies around. A magazine ran a cover feature on the world's thinnest celebrities (Lara Flynn Boyle? Calista Flockhart? I don't know, I only saw the publication in passing, but she was very thin). Another ran a cover showing Abi Titmuss in a sapphic embrace with Victoria Silvstedt; in the same week a supermarket chain announced such covers would be hidden from view. A television drama about plastic surgeons in Miami has won an Emmy. A documentary on McDonald's-fuelled obesity and another on the pornographic film Deep Throat have received theatrical releases and excited reviews. A bodybuilder-turned-actor is the most popular politician in America. Clearly, the body matters; perhaps more so than at any other time in history. I am 40 years old, six foot tall and weigh less than thirteen stone. It doesn't sound bad, so why am I so worried about my visibly bulging stomach?