The title of this article alone is enough to strike fear in so many people that I am sure some of you are reading this post just to see if I have lost my mind. As a culture, we have been taught that being fat is a bad thing and that calling someone fat is never okay. It’s an insult that has been used to silence many so we avoid using it and choose euphemisms for the word instead, words like plus size, thick, and curvy. How many of us share the experience of being called a “fat bitch”, regardless of our weight at the time? I hear that comment at my current size 16 and I heard it when I was a size zero. I’m sure I’m not alone in my experience with fatphobic harassment. So why am I now okay with being called a term our society has deemed so offensive? I have three reasons.
First, I am fat. That’s just kind of a fact. Based on all common reasons for calling someone fat, I qualify. I wear plus size clothes, I have a belly, I have more fat on my body now than I did at other points in my life, the bullshit BMI system says I am “overweight” and so on. Some will point out that I am curvy and really just the average size of the majority of North American women, but “fat” exists on a spectrum and I am on it. I absolutely acknowledge the privilege that comes from being a smaller fat person, but the fact is that society sees me as fat even if I am not quite as fat as other people. Let’s ignore the oppression Olympics and focus on what really matters here, ending fatphobia for all. When we stand united and fight for each others’ rights we can truly achieve freedom from oppression.
Second, fat isn’t inherently a bad word. That’s right, despite what society has told us over and over again, “fat” is not a bad word. It is a descriptor like so many others, for example, tall, short, thin, fat, young, or old. I am fat but I am also intelligent, beautiful, kind, passionate, sexy, easily frustrated, and loyal. We give power to these words because our society privileges certain social locations. At some points in history being fat was desirable, proving that our preferences are socially determined not inherent or necessarily related to health. If society can define fat as negative it is certainly possible for us to flip that meaning. Think about how this happens with slang, for example, words like “sick” are used by some people to mean “amazing” even though the original word is negative in its connotation. Fat is also one of those really cool words that works as an adjective, a noun, and a verb. We can be fat, get fat, and have fat on our bodies.
Third, because I call myself fat, bullies and internet trolls can’t use it to insult me anymore. In fact, I’m all about taking words back so they can’t be used to hurt me. I’m also fine with being called a bitch, slut, queer, and a witch – in fact, I use all of these words to describe myself regularly. These words now make me feel powerful because they can’t be used against me, they define me as strong even in the face of so much hate. I’m also fine with any of the related feminist insults someone can throw at me because that only happens when I’ve made my point and disturbed someone’s status quo. When someone calls me fat (or a bitch/witch/queer/slut) I simply reply, “so?” or “yes, and?” This puts them in the position of having to explain to me why that is a problem and that gets awkward quickly, in fact, they usually don’t reply after that. So go ahead and call me fat, it won’t offend me, especially if you call yourself the same.
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