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What Peaches Geldof's Tragic Death Can Teach Us About Body Image

04/09/2014 12:47 EDT | Updated 06/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Poor little Peaches Geldof. And her poor, poor family.

It's heartbreaking to hear about people dying young. And, at 25, Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof was most certainly too young.

While the medical examiner looks for a reason why a young mother should suddenly die on a Monday afternoon in April, the Internet has been abuzz with speculation.

Some thought that the cryptic photo captioned simply "Me and my mum," posted less than 24 hours before her death was a clue that the young mother, who spoke frankly about the exhaustion of caring for two babies, had never gotten over the death of her own mother, Paula Yates, from a heroin overdose 14 years ago and had taken her own life.

Although police will not confirm it, the British press has widely reported that police found no suicide note inside the home Sir Bob Geldof's middle daughter shared with her husband, Thomas Cohen, and their two young sons.

So it must be something more sinister, quoth the Internet soothsayers."She's just like her mother. It must be drugs," proclaimed more than a few posters on the websites of U.K. newspapers and American tabloid programs.

Yes, Peaches Geldof did have a wild lifestyle, before she became pregnant with her soon-to-be two-year-old son Astala. Since his birth, and the arrival of his baby brother Phaedra 11 months ago, the worst anyone seemed to be able to say about her was that she was rarely seen in her small village in Kent without her husband or children in tow, and that she was thin as a pin.

Indeed, the British press have reported no hard drugs were found in the family home, pointing evidence away from an accidental overdose, although it often takes weeks or months for toxicology results to be completed.

So how does a young woman just die, "suddenly and without explanation"?

The most recent theory is that the lengths Peaches would go to in order to maintain that frail figure, specifically, juice fasts, proved fatal.

Did Peaches Geldof die from the wear and tear of the combination of exhaustion from 24-hour parenting and extreme dieting on her body? Or did she suffer from an unknown congenital defect?

The truth is, to all but those closest to her, it doesn't matter. It's not our business.

What does matter, is the fact that if she died trying to live up to an artificial ideal, then she becomes a cautionary tale about the dangers of trying to live up to an impossible ideal.

At 25 and a new mother, Peaches Geldof should have had a few fleshy parts that would eventually gone away as she chased her toddlers through the park this spring and summer. Or they may not have. And it should not have mattered to Peaches Geldof or anyone else if they were there through the fall and into the winter or the middle of next year.

But we live in a world that seems to live -- and, sadly, die -- by the mantra that "there's no such thing as too rich or too thin." And if that's the truth we common folks living in small towns in Canada and the U.S. and Britain and anywhere in the first world are told we must aspire to every day, imagine what it like to grow up as a socialite in London or New York, where your appearance is your stock in trade.

It's ironic that Peaches Geldof died a day after comedian John Pinette, the larger-than-life comedian who made his living poking fun at his life, and being large.

Pinette, who lived to be twice Peaches Geldof's age, died of an apparent pulmonary embolism, possibly as a result of his size which, at its largest, was 450 pounds on his five-foot, 11-inch frame. Yet we revelled in his jokes about gluttony and his contempt for healthy food as surely as we scorn women who carry extra baby weight or gain the dreaded "freshman fifteen."

There are pages on the Internet devoted to helping young girls and women achieve "thigh gap," as though it was achieving a Phi Beta Kappa key. And at the same time, a young, naturally slender woman had to fight for her right to refuse to gain weight or risk expulsion from her Ivy League school because staff there were convinced that she had an eating disorder.

We laugh at the funny chubby guy, but let Lena Dunham be comfortable in her own skin, and someone like Joan Rivers, whose own skin has been pulled back so many times she scarcely resembles the woman made famous on The Tonight Show decades ago, eviscerate her for promoting ill health.

There is a double standard in the world when it comes to men, women and weight. I truly hope that one day, we will say it is more important for men and women to be fit and active than to care about the number on a body mass index or on a scale.

It is too late for John Pinette. No-one needed to tell him he was fat. He knew it, and he mined it for comedy gold. But it cost him his life, and his loved ones are left to mourn.

While it has yet to be determined if the quest for perfection led Peaches Geldof to her death, it doesn't matter. She is gone, her family is bereft and her children will be raised without their mother.

In either case, you have to ask, "Was it worth it?"

The answer in both cases is, "Nay, nay."

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Peaches Geldof 1989 - 2014