As you may have noticed, I choose to use the word fat over other words such as plus-size, curvy, and others. This is a conscious decision on my part, one that is both personal and professional.
Part of the process of ‘coming out as fat’ (mentioned briefly in my first post, here) is acknowledging your body size. A second important factor in coming out is choosing to use the word fat to describe your body. Fat is a substance found in every body – it does not mean lazy, ugly, or stupid. These words have come to be associated with fatness even though there is no substantiated, direct correlation. By choosing to use the word fat, I am denying that I am lazy, ugly, and stupid.
However, I do understand that some women (and men) find the word fat uncomfortable. Because of the negative social connotations that come from being called fat, it is easy to recognize that using the word fat to describe yourself is sometimes very difficult. While I choose to use fat, there are still some days where I struggle to remember that fat doesn’t equal lazy, ugly, or stupid.
Part of my MA and PhD research involves examining the language we use to describe the fat body. In a survey of 17 women during my MA thesis, the question was posed as to how they preferred their bodies to be addressed. Only two women stated that they were OK with using fat to describe their bodies, while the remaining women stated they preferred plus-size, curvy, or another word. But in the two years since I’ve completed the MA, the body positive and fat acceptance movements have exploded on social media, leaving me to wonder if that has had an impact on how fat women refer to themselves.
So for the purpose of this blog, I will continue to use the word fat to describe the fat body, mine included, even though I fully understand that some people may find ‘fat’ to be offensive. I don’t use the word fat to cause harm or shame, I do this to increase awareness that fat does NOT equal lazy, ugly, or stupid, and with the hope that more women realize that it is OK to be fat.
Walker, S. (2016). Yes, I’m Fat. It’s O.K. I Said It. The New York Times. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/opinion/sunday/yes-im-fat-its-ok-i-said-it.html [Accessed 23 Jan. 2019].