I had a conversation with my coworker a while back, and in the middle of the discussion, I started a sentence with “As a fat woman, I–” and my coworker stopped me short.
“No, Char! Don’t call yourself fat!”
Admittedly, I was bewildered. After all, I am fat. This can easily be seen by looking at me. So, I responded: “But, C, I am fat.”
“No! It’s just so…negative. Don’t say such a thing, because you are a good person with a good heart.”
“Thanks, doll, but really, I am fat. What you mean is that I am not all of those negative things people associate with fat. Like, stupid, ugly, and so on. But I refuse to let the word fat mean anything more than that. If someone thinks I’m stupid and ugly, then said someone would do well to say that as opposed to hurling the word “fat” at me as though they’re telling me something I don’t know or implying I should be ashamed of that fact.”
C looked at me thoughtfully. “You know, I never thought of it like that.”
People have a habit of adding the word “fat” to whatever insult they’re hurling towards someone else. “She’s a fat, horrible, miserable person.” “He is the absolute worst, fucking fat ass.” When people do this, folks get the idea that fat=terrible. And it really isn’t.
Here’s the thing: I call myself fat because it’s how I would describe myself. I put it right in the same category as if I would say I was Black, I have an afro, I am average height, and I am fat. Typically, around others, I make it a point to use other euphemisms for fat: curvy, thick, plus sized. And I don’t have an issue with these other terms (or issues with those who prefer these other terms to the word fat.) But I figure that attitudes can’t change unless folks see that there is another route to interpretation. So, I am a Black woman author/makeup maven with an afro, and I’m fat.
I reject the notion that fat is an indicator of my intelligence, of my beauty, of my self worth, or of my personality. I reject the notion that fat=ugly. I reject the notion that fat=unlovable.
Fat is an adjective, not an insult. Period.
Until next time, stay empowered and beautiful.