Paula Bennett recounts cruel bet pub-goers made about her weight

Paula Bennett has recalled a cruel bet made between friends about her weight which has reminded her to keep a thick skin.

Being a politician can take a toll on your lifestyle and open you up to scrutiny, as the National MP has learned the hard way. 

"What I don't get is the personal, cruel comments at times," she told The Project on Wednesday.

"I don't get that - how I look or my weight or the colour of my skin and how that's relevant to do my job."

At the end of last year, Ms Bennett joined a long line of New Zealand politicians who've had gastric bypass surgery. It makes people feel full quicker and usually means drastic weight loss.

But what's it like to go through such a personal transformation as the country watches? 

Ms Bennett - who's lost 44kg in about nine months - says the reaction to her transformation has been "fantastic", telling The Project it has actually surprised her how kind and interested people have been. 

But it hasn't all been positive. Ms Bennett said one Kiwi was so enthusiastic about her transformation that he approached her at a bar and picked her up, telling her he had a bet with his friends about how much she weighed. 

Ms Bennett admits that politicians need to have a thick skin and that people aren't always going to be nice. She said she's become "good at ignoring most of it" but says it's just part of being in the public eye. 

She says "confidence and the way you carry yourself" is all that should matter when it comes to politics. 

Good looks and a brilliant mind for policy don't always match-up. Lately though, politicians across the globe have been stepping up their game.  

There's poetry-quoting French dreamboat Emmanuel Macron; the rising star of the US Democrat Party, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Justin Trudeau, Canadian thief of hearts; and New Zealand's own Jacinda Ardern, who poses for Vogue in her spare time.  


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