It’s a pet peeve. Whenever I refer to myself as fat in front of people, I immediately get a barrage of well intended admonishments.
You’re not fat, you’re curvy!
No. I carry more fat around my body than I should. Curvy refers to the body shape, not how much extra fat I have hanging around. People can be fat and curvy, fat and not curvy, curvy but not fat. The term curvy doesn’t equate to fat.
But you’re beautiful!
Why thank you! But just like the word curvy, being beautiful doesn’t mean I’m not fat. That extra fat doesn’t magically disappear when someone sees me as beautiful. The fat in my body is a physical certainty, an absolute fact of being. Beauty is more flexible, a preference in the eye of the beholder.
Don’t put yourself down!
Where did I do that? Calling myself fat is no different to commenting on the colour of my hair, my eyes or my height. It’s a noun with no nefarious purpose past what cultural norms pins on it. If you personally think fat is a bad word, maybe examine why you feel that way instead of telling me what I shouldn’t call my own body. That is more about you than me.
You’re being so negative!
How so? Let’s try something. Oh no – the term ‘dry skin’ is now considered terrible, horrible and no good. Imagine telling someone who has flaky skin that they shouldn’t say dry skin but ‘dehydrated’. Let’s see what the response is when you tell them how beautiful they are because of their sensitive skin. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Again, that negativity you ascribe to a word is external to what the word actually means. Fat is just descriptor and without additional negative context surrounding it, it’s silly to assume the person using it is meaning it in a detrimental way.
I get it. I understand and appreciate that you’re trying to make sure I don’t put myself down and we’ve all been conditioned to have an immediately adverse reaction to the merest mention of the word fat. I also get that every single one of us is guilty of using self deprecation as method of self harm and most people – especially with the people I (gratefully) surround myself – are sensitive to that. So yeah, I truly do appreciate that trying to remove the word from my vocabulary comes from a good place. In the end though, telling me not to do or say something is still harmful. I’m sure you don’t realise it, because I didn’t for the longest time, but silencing my voice, telling me I shouldn’t use the word I deliberately chose is wrong. It’s unconsciously reinforcing both the word fat as a negative term and that I need to care more about what others think about me than what I think about myself.
Putting it like that might seem harsh – but it is fair. Yes, words absolutely matter. Yes, we should be more aware of the power of words but equally we should be aware of the power we give to words. When I call myself fat, I’m simply stating a fact, not deliberately putting myself down or looking for validation. Please don’t feel the need to tell me why I’m wrong, and just let it be.
I’m fat. I’m also 5ft 4in, a dyed redhead, gothy, (yes) curvy, music lover, sore all the damn time, friendly, shy, a homebody and sarcastic as fuck. All this and more. It’s ok to call myself all that. I’m ok with it. Please, be ok with it too.