I hate the word. Truly. I have so many negative feelings and memories associated with the word “fat,” that it actually makes me cringe to say it out loud. It sounds foreign coming out of my lips, leaving me with a sour, bitter taste in my mouth. It tastes as bad as it sounds, like gasoline, but thick and sticky in texture.
Fat was the very last thing I wanted to be growing up. I didn’t dare use the word out of fear that me saying it, the very acknowledgement, would mean that it was true. That I was fat.
I vividly remember hearing people call others fat in my presence, like it was no big deal. Because they didn’t say that I was fat, so it was okay, right? They weren’t using the word to describe me, so why should it bother me so much? But somehow, I’d still feel hot and red in the face.
It bothered me because they used that word as an insult. “She’s so fat” was something I heard often. On TV, in real life, toward me, toward others. I heard it daily. Because it was so normal to think of fat as bad, to think of fat as the worst insult you could spew. There was nothing worse than fat.
When the word was being used to describe me, it would take the life out of me. Drain me. Nothing could make me feel as worthless and unwanted as the word “fat.”
The connotation of the word would strip people of all of their value. It didn’t matter how smart you were if you were fat. It didn’t matter how talented you were if you were fat. It didn’t matter how kind you were if you were fat. Fat trumped everything. It suffocated all of your other traits. Silencing them so that the only thing that mattered about you was how fat or not fat you were.
And I didn’t want to live in that world anymore.
A few years ago, I became more in tune with the body positivity movement, and became so inspired by several badass women (who I’ll share in an upcoming post) who very often used the word “fat” to describe themselves. They celebrated their bodies, fat and all. They loved the dimples on their bums and thighs, they embraced the extra flesh they had around their tummies, they showed skin as proudly as any thin person would. And they proudly and loudly used the word to describe themselves. “Yes, I’m fat. So what?”
I wanted to feel the way they did. I wanted to love my body, fat, dimples, rolls, all of it, as much as they loved their bodies. I wanted to see the same beauty in myself as I saw in them. I didn’t want to keep fearing a stupid, insignificant word.
Here are a couple definitions for the term “fat”:
“Having excessive body fat.” (Merriam Webster)
“Having a large amount of excess flesh.” (Oxford Dictionary)
Well, according to that, I am indeed fat. I do have excess flesh and body fat. These are facts that cannot be argued. Anyone looking at me knows this to be true.
That being said, fat is not the only thing I am. I am so many things. I’m kind, I’m a writer, I’m a good friend, I’m a music lover, I’m empathetic. And I am so many other things! There are thousands of words that can accurately describe me. Fat just happens to be one of them.
So, I use the word. My fat is not something to try and hide or run from. It’s a fact about me. As true as my brown eyes or curly hair.
When I use the word “fat” in a factual way, it loses its power. It is no longer something to fear, or something that has the ability to hurt me. It can no longer suffocate all the other adjectives that can be used to describe me. It cannot drain me. It cannot break me.
I am fat. And I’m okay with that.