The “F” Word

FAT

My parents never verbally abused my brother and me. For those of you out there in the blogosphere, “verbal abuse” can take many forms. Most people think it just lives in the first realm of mean words: ‘stupid’, ‘dumb’, ‘idiot’, etc. However, the kind of “verbal abuse” to which I am specifically referring has to do more with descriptive words which are, for all intents and purposes, socially acceptable. People, I’m talking about the word

FAT.

It’s the word everyone dreads to hear in reference to themselves. I’d be hard pressed to think of another word which so accurately sums up hate, ignorance, and discrimination in a way which has so exquisitely seeped into our society. In my opinion, FAT is (historically) one of the most hurtful words which can ever be used to describe another person.

And, to be honest, it’s a word which has fairly accurately described me for the vast majority of my life. And in spite of numerous other minorities which can be used to discriminate against me (Afro-American, Genetically female, Bahai, Lesbian), the only one which truly stung me on the proverbial playground was/is

FAT.

However, because my parents are beautiful and upstanding individuals, FAT is never a word I’ve associated with myself.

Sure, kids shouted it in the hallway of my junior high school. Yes, it was/is written in imaginary sharpie over the mouths of sales clerks in my favorite stores. But when I was at home, FAT was not part of my life.

As I’ve aged, my identity has evolved past the world of teen magazines and adolescent angst. However, the word

FAT

still hovers in the wings of my life. At this point, I’m beginning to accept FAT as a word which I can reclaim- it does not need to encompass the hateful emotions of the people and images which have taunted me my entire life. However, a key element of fat acceptance is the need for a shift in dialogue on the issue of health consciousness.

Let’s be clear- I don’t endorse dieting.

Dieting implies that there is something about the ‘dieter’ that needs to be fixed in order for the ‘dieter’ to be a socially acceptable human being. To be frank, this is a disgraceful idea. What’s more, dieting does not typically result in long term life changes.

Instead, we should strive for better health guidelines.

(And while we’re on the subject, calling someone FAT does not make them want to have better health guidelines. It just makes them want to curl up in a ball, and pray for the earth to open up.)

So yes, better health guidelines. What’s my idea of better health guidelines? Drinking water, primarily buying unprocessed food, sticking to a vastly whole foods diet, not smoking, and limiting or eliminating beer and alcohol.

SODA

Really, my path begins with a simple soda. I was not raised drinking this particular beverage- as a general rule, I’m pretty sure my mom considers soda to be the work of evil forces in our universe. Sure, I’ll enjoy one or two if I’m out with friends. But what would ever possess me to purchase a two liter when doing my grocery shopping?

However, a couple of weeks ago, I caught myself actually PURCHASING a bottle of ginger ale at the super market. This little act may seem silly and inconsequential to you, but it was a truly scary and bizarre experience- I felt as though another woman had been ambling through my life, and I’d just returned from some chaotic vacation.

Something needs to change.

However (and I doubt I’m alone in this struggle), I am unlikely to accomplish my goals without some form of accountability. I am the worst self-police woman in the history of self-‘policing’.  But I need to start somewhere.

Understand This Distinction:

In general, I’ve come to terms with my FAT-ness. Like every human with feelings, I have off days. But for all intents and purposes, I don’t believe my size holds me back socially or emotionally. I don’t think a person’s size is an indicator of their physical ability or eating habits.

However, I have a number of life goals which I want to complete. I think these goals are being held back by a lack of personal discipline. I‘m not going to blame my lack of discipline on my

FAT.

But no matter what the true cause, this blog will track my progress toward a life of self-discipline- one where I  can achieve the goals which have seemed vaguely ludicrous only because I’ve lacked the courage to believe in myself.

2 responses to “The “F” Word

  1. anne cortes

    Great writing!! Enough said and not too much said. Thanks for starting your blog. I came to steal your rice recipe but enjoyed catching up with all that is going on in your wonderful world. I am an episodic blog reader, in between hanging out in waiting rooms of dozens of doctors and trying to get graduate degree. I will probably catch back up on your progress after finals but I will be thinking of ya on rainy days when it is really hard to get out the door. Running in the snow is much more fun than running in the rain. Enjoy your races and be sure to get a cool bike!!

  2. Linda Kelleher

    I agree that acceptance is the first step. Part of acceptance is KNOWING that there is no one body type. The way it’s presented is that we are all supposed to seek this size that is the core of human existence. IT DOESN’T EXIST! I think that idea is unhealthy. It robs us precious energy we could use in other ways. It feeds an industry that relies on us not accepting ourselves and seeking best practices based on love and respect. Jessamyn, I applaud you.

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