I was recently having a discussion in the HAES group I belong to on Facebook. One of the other members stated that she has difficulty with wording because fat seems degrading but often euphemisms for fat don’t make sense. My response to her comment was this:
Fat is my preference. I use it as an adjective like tall or thin. I don’t like to give it power as an insult (though it took a lot of self talk to reach that point).
This is not to say that the word fat is never used as an insult. I once had a fourth grade student call me a fat bitch with emphasis on fat. It was clear to me, and everyone else in the room, that he considered fat to be more insulting than bitch. Nor does this mean that it’s okay to start calling people fat or pointing out their fatness whenever you like. For example, I had an uncle who loved to laugh and tell me how fat I was every time he saw me. This was definitely NOT okay and is not in the spirit of what I’m talking about here. However, just because others hurl the word fat at us as an insult doesn’t mean we have to accept it as one.
The problem in our society, as demonstrated in the above examples, is that fat is often not used to simply describe a person’s body size or type. It’s used to pass judgement and generally is thought of as synonymous with lazy, gluttonous, undesirable, uncoordinated, ugly, stupid, less than. None of this makes sense, of course, because we know that there are plenty of people who fit some or all of these descriptions of all sizes just as there are people of all sizes who fit none of these descriptions. If tall is not degrading then fat shouldn’t be either; both are simply descriptive. Fat is not the problem, fat shaming is .
When I opened up Postsecret this week my heart broke for this sender. Not because being fat is so terrible but because feeling constantly judged is. At times these judgements are amplified by our own thoughts but make no mistake, the world is full of superficial assholes who think you should be humiliated by your body. I wanted to hug him/her and tell them that it isn’t necessary to change your body to love yourself; it’s only necessary to change your thoughts about your body.
Our wonderful bodies* have legs that carry us, hearts that beats, lungs that take in air, nerves that feel pleasure and pain (so we know when to stop), arms to wrap around those we love, eyes to see the beauty in the world and keep going despite the abuse we may have heaped on them. Our bodies are fantastic, marvelous, wondrous things that deserve reverence, not shame; love, not hate.