I’m very consciously using fat, the adjective, to describe my physical reality these days.
For too long, I avoided the word fat. I pretended I wasn’t fat. The connotations of the word were too painful.
My friends would insist that I was not fat, and I know that it was because they, too, carried around the same feelings about the word and because they knew me as something more than just my physical being.
Just recently, I talked to someone who insisted that it simply could not be possible that I need to lose 80 pounds, that she just could not see that on me. I had to explain that even at my goal weight of 150, I will fall into the overweight category on the body mass index charts (which are a totally flawed measure of anything, but I was just making the point that I wasn’t necessarily striving for an unrealistic number).
People often get uncomfortable when I say something about being fat. Don’t worry, I always think, I know I’m fat, and I know you know I’m fat. And I know that you attach way more meaning to that word than I do. But I generally don’t get into denotation and connotation, because then they’ll start thinking, wow, fat and didactic.
I kid, I kid. But really …
I’m trying to divorce fat, the adjective, from fat, the judgment.
I used to pretend I wasn’t fat because that would mean I’d be admitting to being ugly, lazy, stupid, etc. But fat doesn’t mean ugly, lazy, or stupid, even though that’s the message I have internalized.
Fat doesn’t tell you what’s in my heart or soul. It only tells you that many of my cells are storing an excess of fuel that I’m not burning.
I believe that people can be healthy at any size. I know that some fat people are very fit, eat right, and exercise, and that some thin people eat junk food, never work out, and cope with all kinds of health problems. There are thin, lazy, unhealthy people and fat, lazy, healthy people, and all permutations in between.
I also know that very few people look at unhealthy thin people and think—or say—the mean, inappropriate, and just plain ignorant things they think about or say to fat people like me.
I say fat. I say it out loud. I do it to take the power back from the people who have wielded that word unkindly, unthinkingly, or with malice.
I say fat, but all I mean is that my body has larger fat cells than it could. That’s all.