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August 15, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

I Am Offended Because – Chewing the Fat

Lately, I’ve been in a writing rut. The words aren’t flowing from my fingertips with the same vitriol that they usually do.

I’ve chalked the rut up to winter and the way I’m hibernating like an apartment-dwelling bear. I’ve been doing all sorts of uncharacteristically home-y things like baking muffins (usually I hate muffins, they’re just ugly cupcakes) and watching Downton Abbey (a period drama with no lesbians? What’s the point?). On evenings of particular melodrama, I’ve wondered whether I’ll ever batter my keyboard with writing rage ever again. I needn’t have worried, because I just saw an article that a friend posted on Facebook, and hoo boy, I’m a-typing.

The article, a well-meaning list of ‘10 Ways to Stop Fat Talk’, encourages readers to cultivate a more positive body image and stop talking about their bodies in negative ways. On the surface, that’s something that I can get behind. Pledging to be kinder to yourself is one of the most powerful things you can do. My problem with the article is that it equates toxic, negative body thoughts with ‘Fat Talk’. It’s not that simple. Especially for me, because you know what? I actually am fat.

I’m fat, and there’s no disputing it. My BMI says I’m fat. My clothes say I’m fat. My mouth says I’m fat and it’s a fact, not an insult. Fat is just a word. A word to describe bodies, just the way you would describe someone as being tall or having brown hair. Yet, there’s no ‘10 Ways to Stop Brown Hair Talk’ article. We live in a world that equates fat with bad. Often, this is because our culture assumes a fat body is an unhealthy body—which is ridiculous because you just can’t tell how healthy a person is just by looking at them. Being fat is not the same as eating rubbish and never exercising. If your modus operandi is encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles, that’s not the same as encouraging them to lose weight. Really, when you think about it, whether someone is healthy or not isn’t any of your business, unless you’re their doctor. And before you get all ‘what about public health costs?’ on my ass, I don’t see anybody using ‘extreme sports participant’ or ‘motorway cyclist’ or ‘aspartame enthusiast’ as an insult. Every body is a good body. Health should never be a prerequisite for respect.

When I use the word fat to describe myself, I’m reclaiming it. I’m taking back the power from everyone who has used that word to hurt me. I’m freeing myself from years of using euphemisms like “curvy”—which are stupid when you consider that every body has curves, given that bodies are three dimensional. ‘Fat Talk’ doesn’t have to be negative. Fat Talk can be as simple as ‘my fat body and I are going to go on a bad ass walk’. In the words of Hermione Granger: “fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself”. I’m not afraid to be fat. I’m not afraid of my body. My body ain’t Voldemort.


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