What do you think of when you heard the word “fat?” I’ve spent my entire life – a whole 26 years on this planet – hating that word. If something or someone was fat, it was a bad thing. Fat = Ugly. That’s what it meant when a bully used it. That’s what it meant when my fellow teenage girls pinched their hips in the bathroom. That’s what it meant when trying on bathing suits in Target.
For a long time, I used the F word as a way to bring myself down. My self-degradation was filled with that descriptor. And the response I got from others? “No, you’re not fat. You’re beautiful!” I know people were just trying to cheer me up and be encouraging, but compliments like that perpetuate the idea that fat is ugly. If you’re not fat, then you’re beautiful. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s the thing, though. I have fat, and quite a bit of it around my stomach and thighs. If we’re using “fat” as an adjective, then I’d even say I am fat. There’s plenty of jiggle to go around. I don’t think that’s bad, though, and I certainly don’t think it makes me ugly anymore. I think we can all reclaim that word and see it for what it really is – just an adjective. We don’t shudder when we hear “that person is tall. That person is short. That person is thin.” Should we really be taken aback when we hear “that person is fat?” It does not define a person. You know what gets to define you? YOU!
Some women have already begun reclaiming the word, which means they no longer let it hold power of them.
“I began using the word fat daily, to describe myself and to show appreciation to my body and all of its curves. I do this because I think that by giving visibility to the word, just like giving visibility to trans women, we can normalize these things that society has deemed to bad or different and this will further bring acceptance and understanding… Being fat to me means that I have self love, self acceptance, that I have a positive outlook for my curvaceous, large framed body that carries my mind and soul. Being fat to me means that I am confident in myself, it means that I’ve shed the ideals of what society tells me I need to look like as a woman.” – Gia, @thesassytruth_
“We live in a culture that propagates the fear of fat everywhere we turn… That fear hurts us all, no matter what size we are… Fat isn’t synonymous with lazy, unattractive or any other negative connotation our culture has given it. It’s just another word, a neutral descriptor, a harmless adjective describing body size… When we reclaim the words that have been used to bring us down we take their power away. Some people are fat, some people are thin, some people are chubby, some people are muscular, and all people are worthy of self love and respect, no matter how their outer shells look.” – Megan Crabbe, @Bodyposipanda
“Your size and fatness says nothing about you as a person. Literally nothing. It doesn’t describe your eating habits, exercise habits, personality, motivations, self-love, body positivity, health or happiness.”
“I stumbled into body positivity through my eating disorder recovery journey… and it changed my absolute life, before this I didn’t know you could ever actually be happy with your body… This word fat plagued me for years. I almost spent a whole decade being bullied, being shackled by and fearing the word Fat. This word held more power over me than any insult, cuss word, opinion or thought. It was truly the worst thing someone could say to me… Fat became a word that empowers me because I shifted my relationship with it. It shifted because I realized that my thoughts and ideas around that word could change. Even though others have associated stigmas about the word fat, I had the power to create my own definition to understand that fat is simply a word — a word that describes my body. I love my body. I love myself. Therefore I am cool with the word Fat. Your size and fatness says nothing about you as a person. Literally nothing. It doesn’t describe your eating habits, exercise habits, personality, motivations, self-love, body positivity, health or happiness.” – Danielle, @chooselifewarrior
For me, the word “fat” was the worst thing I could hear. It was the worst thing I could be. It was worse than being cruel, selfish or self-centered (how f***ed up is that?!). I desperately wanted to be thin, as if that was the thing that would make me happy and loved. Now I know that that’s just not true. I am ok with being fat (some days more than other – remember, this is an ongoing journey). I’m ok with having fat. If you’re not in the mental space yet where you can say that, it’s ok. For a long time, I worked in words like “thick” and “curvy.” I think those are fantastic descriptors if the word “fat” still bothers you. I’m not going to let that word hold so much power of me anymore. It’s exhausting. I know that people will love me no matter my outward appearance. I have family and friends that care for me deeply, and I care for them no matter what they look like.
I’m not quite at a place where I feel comfortable showing every part of my body yet. Maybe one day I’ll get there, but I’ve taken some big steps in the last year, like buying a two piece swimsuit and wearing a crop top. Even though I’m reclaiming the word “fat,” I still have days when my self-esteem is low, days when I flip through lingerie ads and think “god, why can’t I look like that.” But those moments occur less and less frequently. I’m still learning to love myself, and if you’re on the same journey as me, I highly recommend looking at the words you use to describe yourself. Ask yourself why you let the negative ones have power. Ask yourself if they even are negative, or if they are just descriptors. Self-love is no easy adventure. It’s really hard, but it’s worth it, and it can start with something as easy as redefining a word.
Quotes from Huffington Post.