Why is it such an ugly word?
Because we were taught that fat is ugly. Shameful.
For many people, our body image is wrapped up in that one word: fat. It meant we were lazy. Gluttonous. Probably unhygienic, lonely, sad.
After listening to a recent This American Life podcast called “Tell Me I’m Fat,” I’ve decided I no longer want the word “fat” to hold such power over me. “Fat” is a description of what I have — I have fat, more fat than some, not as much as others, but it’s what I have. It’s not who I am.
Fat people are all kinds of things — they are smart, talented, energetic. They work out, they sing, they dance, they have sex. There is nothing wrong with describing someone as fat — the negative connotation that has been attached to that word for far too long is wrong. It’s simply not true.
For years I have called myself many other words: overweight, plus-size, chubby, curvy. Those words describe me, too. But I have shunned the word fat. I have cringed when I’ve heard it, and I’ve corrected others who call other people fat. I’ve given into society’s definition of what being fat means.
I’ve read a lot of articles of late that reclaim the word fat, by people who refuse to feel shame from the word or silence their friends when you say, “I’m fat,” and they automatically reply “Oh, no you’re not.”
Because look, as fat people, we know we’re fat. We’re not dumb. We also realize you’re not necessarily trying to say that we’re not fat, you’re trying to shield us from the other words that many people think of when they say fat — like ugly, lazy, unattractive, unhygienic.
As our friends, you know we are none of those things. My friends know I shower every day, that I try to eat healthfully most of the time, that I try to limit my indulgences. They know I work out often. They also know about my complicated relationship with food and my body, so they want to spare me the pain of the ugliness of the word fat.
But it’s OK. I’m OK with the word ‘fat.’ I refuse to look at that word as an insult any longer. I may be fat, I may have fat, but I’m more than that word. Fat is not who I am.
I want to own the word, denounce the negativity, and call it like it is.
I’m fat. And it’s OK.