The first time I called myself fat, I felt ashamed. I think I was probably in fifth grade, and I called myself fat so nobody else would say it first. I felt others might be willing to forgive my body shape if I at least took responsibility for it.
The first time I called myself fat as a factual statement, rather than out of guilt, I felt a little liberated. It felt good to say it, not because I wanted to beat somebody out of calling me fat first, but because that’s what I am.
Many people in my life have tried with all of their might not to use the f-word around me. Obviously, they’re trying to be polite, but it’s sort of the… elephant in the room. I have rarely ever been called fat to my face, but there are plenty of phrases that mean the same thing. “Plus-sized” and “larger” and many other attempts at polite ways to describe my body make me feel like the thin person describing me desperately wants to let me know I could stand to lose a few pounds.
These descriptions delivered by smiling and well-intentioned people make me feel tired. Being fat doesn’t block my view of your sideways glance when I wear a crop top or anything that may be deemed “unflattering” on big bodies. What I wish people who aren’t like me knew was that I know I’m fat. I can promise you every fat person does. Let me live my life anyway.
It often feels like people think they’re doing me a service, that they’re being kind by letting me know that I’m not thin. I’m aware, in fact, painfully aware. All fat people are aware because we are the ones who find out that they don’t make those cute jeans in our size, we are the people who have worried we might not be able to sit on a small chair, we own mirrors and they reflect exactly what people think we don’t see: fat.
Most fat people have probably been to the doctor, dreading the moment their doctor addresses their weight, even when they went in because they think they have the flu. Many fat people’s concern for their health has been ignored and substituted with the recommendation that they lose weight. I can assure you that weight loss is also something fat people are aware of, and something that most are likely trying to achieve.
While it seems like a simple solution, there are many hidden health factors that can prevent a person from losing weight, and a simple diet doesn’t work as well as many think. Diet culture in America is extremely harmful and contributes to the eating disorder epidemic in our country.
I’m not advocating for people to go out and start calling everybody fat (even though I prefer the word, not everyone feels comfortable with it). What I want people who are not fat to realize is that it’s not their job to tell us about our bodies. I know that I’m fat, and I am still allowed to love my body and have confidence in my looks. Allow fat people to live their lives and mind your business when it comes to how anybody’s body looks, small or large or any other way.
Photo from Fatshionista on Instagram.