As a woman who has always been bigger than everyone else, I feel it’s important I speak out about why I choose to identify as fat and the journey I’ve been on to get to this stage.
First of all, as you’ll know if you’re familiar with this site, I do not use fat as a derogatory term, I simply use it as a word to describe my physical appearance. I am fat, so I see no issue with calling myself that. It wasn’t always that easy, though.
Cover image: Aidy Bryant (a personal icon, and a rare celebrity who was reclaimed “fat.”)
”fat“ as an insult
It is, honestly, sickening how the mass media portrays the word “fat.” Granted, we have gotten a lot better as a society in the 21st century outlawing the use of words like retard, or saying “that’s gay”, but people who are even slightly overweight have not been included in this language cleansing. We still, as an American public, have to put up with garbage like this appearing on cinema screens.
Friends, also, stands as a good example of fat being associated with bad. It’s one of the most popular TV shows of all time, yet even this show stuck Monica (Courtney Cox) in a fat suit at more than the expense of a cheap joke, actively insinuating that her life used to be terrible because she was fat. You can read more about my analysis of this tripe here.
As someone who grew up taller and bigger than all the girls around me, I was poked fun at because of my weight. Seeing media actively encouraging laughing at people because of their weight is disturbing.
The sad thing is, insults have continued into my adult life. They are less “in your face” but the insults still exist. Some of the things I’ve been called? A hippo. A fat friend. A fatass. You can imagine the class of the people making these comments.
changing perceptions and the fat acceptance movement
Probably the most empowering thing I’ve done for myself as a tall, plus size woman is reclaiming the word “fat” and owning it. As I mentioned before, I have a fat, squishy body. So, why not call it as I see it?
I’ll admit, the journey to body acceptance was not easy, but there are a number of pivotal women, and talks, that helped me on the way. This Ted talk from burlesque dancer Lillian Bustle absolutely nails owning your fatness.
Following body positive accounts also drastically improved my personal image of myself, and seeing inspirational women own their bodies, be they tall or fat, has really helped too. Just some of the women I look up to are Susan Curry, Velvet D’Amour, Mia Amber Davis, and Lizzo. You may have heard of the last two, okay, everyone knows Lizzo, but check out the others who have been on the front lines of the fat acceptance fight for a long time!
identify as fat for yourself. not to ”fit in“
I’m certainly not as influential as any of the women I listed above, but if I had one piece of advice to give it would be that identifying as fat is an inherently personal decision, and not one that should be enforced on anyone.
If you genuinely don’t enjoy being the size you are, I have no problem with you choosing not to identify as fat.
At the same time, fatness is not exclusive. This is something I wrote about when discussing the fat spectrum, the “levels of fatness” that were created specifically for women to neatly fit into a box that described their size. I simply don’t agree with the need for fat people to try and be exclusive, as this is precisely the sort of thing that’s seen society marginalize fat people for so long.
For instance, a belief among some who see the fat spectrum as canon is that just because I haven’t needed to buy two seats on an airplane, I’m in some way less deserving of calling myself “fat.” I don’t subscribe to that notion, and I use my platform on this site to promote inclusion of all bodies.
We need to remember that all fat is, is a descriptive word that best sums up one’s body. It doesn’t give you superpowers, but reclaiming a word that was once used to insult you is absolutely empowering.
So, this is me. I’m tall. I’m fat. Two words that accurately describe my body type, and nothing else.