Monday, July 18, 2011

Taking Back The Word "Fat"

The title of my blog is "Confessions of a Fat Superhero".  I chose this name deliberately because I believe that everyone is a superhero in their own way and because I have decided to take back the word "fat".

For a long time "fat" was simply a descriptive word. In reference to human beings it simply meant that a person had more flesh on their bodies than the average.  It was not a good thing, nor a bad thing, it just was a way of describing someone much the same way that you would say "short" or "tall", "blonde" or "brunette".  There were even cultures where being fat was a good thing as it denoted wealth and implied that the person who was fat was rich enough in resources to be able to do more than just survive on basic sustenance.  It was considered a good thing.

In modern America, however, the word fat carries so many negative implications with it that using it is considered to be almost taboo unless you are deliberately trying to insult someone.  Young children who are too innocent to have absorbed the idea that being fat is bad often will blurt out things like, "Mommy, why is that lady so fat?" only to be shushed and told by their mortified parents that you aren't supposed to say things like that.

Why not?

I AM fat.  Children are curious, and if they want to know how I got this way, then I have no problem stopping and talking to them.  I hope that if I do so, they will have the seed of understanding planted and will not develop the body-shaming attitude that is so prevalent in our society.  I hope that a child understands whey I say, "When people eat food, their bodies turn it into energy.  Sometimes we eat more than our body needs, and it gets turned into fat until we need it and then it gets turned back into energy.  Some people's bodies use energy much better than others, like how your family's truck uses more gas to do the same things than your family's car.  So two people can eat the same amount of food and one person's body will use the energy so well that they get fat because a lot of it gets stored, and the other person will be skinny because their body uses it all up and doesn't store any of it.".

I hope that the same child  holds that idea in the back of their head so that when they hear people tell someone who is fat that they just need to get off their butts and exercise, they know that isn't always the case.

It is really ironic that in a time and place where we claim to be proud of diversity in all of its forms, fat is a four-letter word.  It carries an implication of sloth, laziness, and gluttony.  People look at someone who is fat and immediately make a number of assumptions based on their body size, and very rarely are those assumptions positive ones.  The first thing that leaps to mind tends to be that the fat person is lazy and that the fat itself is an outward indicator of an internal personality flaw.  The chain of logic then leads to the conclusion that this personality flaw is something to not only be ashamed of, but something that needs to be fixed.  Finally, in a brilliant flare of circular reasoning, the line of thought ends with the idea that the reason the horrible personality flaw has not been fixed is that the fat person is too lazy to do so.

Wow.  Isn't that amazing?  And this flashes through people's minds so quickly that most probably don't even realize that they are thinking it.

Today, however, I hereby take back the word FAT for myself.  I refuse to feel ashamed of it any more.  I refuse to feel ashamed of MYSELF any more.  Yes, I am fat.  No, I am not any more flawed than anyone else in this world.  Yes, I love good food.  Yes, I indulge in it.  But I refuse to apologize for that.  We should indulge in good food, and when we are full we should stop.  We should listen to our body and move when it feels like moving, rest when it feels like resting, and eat when it feels like eating.

I refuse to bow to the people who eye my grocery cart and give me a disapproving look when they see the pint of top quality ice cream in there.  It is not my problem that they are so determined to support their assumption of my flaws that they look past the ten different kinds of fresh vegetables and five different fresh fruits that the pint is sitting on just so that they can judge me for indulging in that item.  I will try not to judge them for having filled most of their cart from the processed foods aisles and the fact that the only vegetable that is present in their take for the day is a bag of frozen french fries.

I refuse to give any ground to the people who watch me walk on a treadmill or lift weights at the gym, swing a sword at faire, or do any number of other physical activities and who do so with disgust in their eyes.  People want fat folks to lose the weight, but would prefer that it happen out of sight of the pretty people, please.  Well, suck it up, cupcake, because I'm not going anywhere.  I am going to do what I enjoy and every time I do it I will get a little better at it and be able to do it longer before I have to stop and rest.  If that happens to shave some inches off my body, I won't object but if it doesn't that is fine too.  My body will know what it needs, and if it decides that it wants to be smaller then it will.

Fat people need to be done with allowing a multi-billion dollar industry control how they see themselves.  Because if we don't stop letting the weight-loss industry turn fat into a dirty word for us, then we will never be able to look at ourselves in the mirror with anything but loathing and self-hatred.  Those emotions may support change for a time, but in the end negativity only begets more negativity.  You have to love yourself as you are.  Changing your looks may change how other people perceive you, but will never truly change how you perceive yourself, and you will spend your life living in fear that you will get fat once more.  Living in fear is as bad as living in self-hate. 

So, my fellow fatties, take back the word.  Stop letting it be used as a whip against you, to keep you shuffling off to buy the next weight-loss fad in the hopes that THIS one will be the fix that fixes everything that is wrong in your life.  Those so-called fixes are only messing up your body's ability to speak to you, and your ability to listen to it and truly know what it is telling you.  As one of you, I can tell you the most important thing that your body is saying, and that thing is, "Love thyself."

Find the ability to truly love yourself, and the rest will happen.  You will stop abusing the body that takes such good care of you, and you can re-introduce yourself to it and begin a whole new relationship with it.  Maybe you'll lose weight, and maybe you won't, but in the end if you feel healthier and happier, if you can do the things that you love and continue to enjoy them without feeling apologetic for your own existence, THAT is the true success.  Be fat, be skinny, be tall, be short, be blonde, be brunette, be you.  Be happy.  Be victorious and we'll be victorious together.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated, so if you don't see your comment right away don't worry, I'll review it and add it as soon as possible. The only time that comments won't be approved is if they are inappropriate. And yes, I am the sole arbiter as to what qualifies as inappropriate. :)