I Can Call Myself Fat, But You Can't
I know the word “fat” is going through an incredible reclamation. I’m just not there yet.
If you’ve ever been fat, you know what the word sounds like coming out of your own mouth. But you don’t truly know the weight the word holds until it comes at you from the mouth of someone else.
I’ve been big my whole life. Puberty came early. I was the first girl in Year 6 to wear a bra, and not just a Bonds crop top for the pride that came along with knowing that you were old enough to need one.
In high school I hid behind oversized jumpers and complained that the difference in sizes between my skirts and my shirts were because my chest was too big.
About 6 months ago, the stretch marks on my stomach showed up. And then two weeks ago, a friend called me fat in passing and didn’t bat an eyelid.
That’s when I cracked.
I know the word “fat” is going through an incredible reclamation. My Instagram feed is carefully curated to remind me that there are women in the world who got there first, they have owned it, they love it and they are spreading the good word on “fat”.
Plus-size model Ashley Graham uses her platform to spread the message that beauty is beyond size, she even has her own swimsuit label called "Swimsuits For All", because let's face it, they weren't before.
Body positivity advocates who I religiously follow, post pics and advice about how to be kinder to yourself and your body, that "fat" doesn't mean "less" and I hear their message, I really do.
Except they look at themselves in the mirror with love and if the word fat comes charging out of someone else’s mouth, it’s expertly flicked away with cat-like prowess.
I’m just not there yet.
I’m sure that there will be plenty of women reading this who might feel mad that I’m weighing down the word with a negative connotation that they’ve fought off so strongly. The truth is, though -- it just hurts me to be called fat.
When the word fat attached itself to the way that someone else identifies me, something inside me felt very exposed. I’m not blind, I know that I am fat, but to the world, it feels important to know that I am thought of as more than what my body looks like, as every other woman should.
It’s not that I am actively seeking to be fat, or stay fat, in fact, quite the opposite -- I do my best to eat well, get to the gym and make sure I get enough sleep at night. But anyone who has ever tried to fight back against their BMI will tell you it can be a bumpy road filled with exciting highs and crippling lows.
It’s not easy.
Despite what anyone else thinks or says.
When the process then involves the fat label stamped across your forehead from others, it kicks you down the mountain that you try to climb a little higher every day.
Beyond hurt feelings, it’s the designation that I am this way and people expect me to stay this way. It’s people getting comfortable with the idea that just because I think it, they can make it their duty to remind me. I don’t think that the world needs to go around shouting that I’m perfect the way I am. I’m not. But it’s enough for me to know that I’m okay being me right now.
So for the time being, I’m getting used to calling myself fat. I would just prefer it if you didn’t.
This post first appeared on May 23, 2018.