Nope, not the four letter f-word. This one’s three letters. And, arguably, holds much more weight (pun not intended).
I’m talking about the word “fat.” F-A-T. The word that a majority of the human population avoids using for the fear of offending someone else. But does it really offend most fat people?
Obviously, there are reasons so many people attach such a negative meaning to the word. Elementary school bullies have been calling people fat to make them feel bad about themselves since the beginning of time. The media consistently portrays fat people in a negative light. “Fat = bad, ugly, unhealthy.” But at the end of the day, it’s just a word. An adjective used to describe things and people that are fat.
Being fat doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Not all fat people are ugly and not all skinny people are beautiful. And yes, there are fat people with health problems but there is no direct correlation between being fat and being unhealthy. When I say “I’m fat,” I mean I have extra fat on my body. That’s it. It doesn’t mean I’m ugly or unhealthy. I’m just fat.
Most people’s automatic reaction to me calling myself fat is: “Stop it! No you’re not!” as if that’s what they think I need to hear when really, I’m stating facts, not searching for validation or positive reinforcement. You telling me that I’m not fat doesn’t make me feel better about myself. It tells me you’re a liar. We can all see that I’m fat. So why do we feel the need to tell people: “Oh no, you’re not fat. Don’t say that.”
Because we’ve let three letters completely consume us as a culture. “You’re looking fat” is seen as an insult while “You’re looking thin” is a compliment. How do we ever expect girls and boys to grow up loving their bodies instead of hating them when we put so much value into a three letter word? One whose definition has been drastically changed from a simple descriptive word to something almost as taboo as a racial slur?
Yes, there are people who would still be offended if someone called them fat. But my point is that a lot of fat people–myself obviously included–no longer allow the stigma of the word to affect them negatively and instead use it as
yet another source of empowerment. My goal is to get all other fat people on the same page. Start using it as a way to describe yourself instead of feeling like you have to use more “tasteful” words like chubby, thick, big, etc. The more regularly and openly the word “fat” is used, the more likely that stigma is to just fade away. Think about it. Before you tell someone you love them for the first time, a lot of thought goes into saying it but eventually you tell them multiple times every single day. It gets easier the more you say it.
Fat is not a bad word. If you are fat, you are not bad. You are not ugly. You are not unhealthy. You are not less worthy than any other person on this planet. You are fat. And you are perfect. And those two CAN coexist.