(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)
Like I’ve mentioned before, FAT is not a word I’ve ever associated with myself. In fact, I’ve had a standing policy to judge people who use FAT as a verbal weapon. However, I’ve recently begun to rethink my policy on the word FAT and its implications.
You see, FAT is a word which has shifted from being a physical description (like ‘pink’, ‘slimy’, or ‘colorful’), to being used as an opportunity for abuse and pain. Nowadays, when the average person says FAT, they are not saying it as a harmless descriptive word. They are using it to shame and humiliate any person who could potentially fit the word’s original descriptive meaning.
This humiliation has become widespread and generally accepted because it hides under the cloak of health consciousness. Ergo, when describing someone as FAT, the abuser is ‘really’ saying,
“That person is so unhealthy. I’m hurting their feelings because I care about them. I don’t want them to be horrible and FAT anymore.”
Actually, what the abuser is REALLY saying is,
“I hate the way that person looks because it makes me evaluate my personal decisions. Maybe if I hurt their feelings, I can mask my own paralyzing self-doubt.”
However, what we need to learn is that you should not have to shame and hurt others to “care” about them. The dialogue about health consciousness and beauty ideals is supported by a media-centric world which makes a profit by belittling consumers and preying on their insecurities. In reality, it has very little to do with actual good health guidelines, or self-love initiatives. By using the word FAT, humans have created a derogatory word which transcends any other F-bomb because its strength is garnered by deeply set emotional boundaries.
That being said, it is crucial that we reclaim the word FAT. Just like, as a woman who is attracted to other women, I must reclaim the word “DYKE”.
Words are just that: WORDS. The concentrated power within the word FAT will cease to exist as soon as we stop hurling it like a verbal shot put event.
Yes, I’ve never associated the word FAT with my physical description. However, it is absolutely necessary for me to start calling myself FAT so those who bully will lose their ammunition. By calling myself FAT, I’m not trying to shame myself or abuse my own feelings. I’m simply describing my physical description- I’m also BLACK.
FAT and BLACK should inhabit the same space- they are descriptions, not insults.
I’ve said all this to make it clear that my diet changes have absolutely nothing to do with being FAT. My confidence level is high, and it won’t be affected by whether or not I’m FAT. I like my body. I find it to be very beautiful and (if I may be so bold) quite sexy.
I’m changing my diet and my exercise levels because I want to be at my optimum level of physical fitness.
I want to run a marathon.
I want to bike across America.
I can’t achieve these goals if I don’t rethink my life choices. This is not to say that all FAT people are unhealthy- on the contrary, some of the more health conscious people I know are FAT. And, on the other hand, I know THIN people who think Bojangles is the saving grace of the food industry.
I can only speak for myself. I can only know my own goals, and I will not dictate the health ideals of any other person.
In truth, I hope that all people will want what is best for their body. I hope we will all learn to take of ourselves, and strive for optimum physical health. But we must understand that being healthy does not always mean being THIN. Being unhealthy does not always mean being FAT.
And by defining HEALTHY as THIN, we’re not creating body consciousness- we’re creating a civil war between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.
I hope that one day health consciousness will be seen as a normal life choice, and not as a way to step behind the velvet rope of “acceptable beauty”.