As a matter of fat

Posted by Nandhitha Ravindran
June 1, 2017

Self-Published

Here’s another not-so-favourite F word.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Is it fat? You tell me.

When it comes to the topic of fatness or body size, we predominantly seem to react in two ways — we either shame or insult someone for being fat. Or, we go the other extreme of not uttering the word, in the fear of possibly offending someone. There’s no via media.
So, we struggle with using the word or accepting the word, fat.
Here’s a question we ought to ask ourselves: IS CALLING SOMEONE FAT, WRONG?

The simple answer, is no.

The more complicated, nuanced answer? Read on.

What is FAT?

The simple definition is –

Noun — a natural oily substance occurring in animal bodies, especially when deposited as a layer under the skin or around certain organs

Adjective –
Biologically — a person or animal with large amount of excess flesh
Generally — large in circumference | Synonyms — thick, big, chunky, long, etc.

So we usually face problems with the adjective form of the word, FAT. The term is relative, of course. I am definitely fatter than my younger sister is. She is skinny, has less excess flesh in her body, so in comparison, I am fat. There might be someone who has more excess flesh than I do, and that person is fatter than I am. Simple, no?
Apparently not. We think fat is bad or unacceptable and is the lowest of insult there is.

I am guilty of this too. I have put on a new dress and asked my friends if it makes me look fat. Also, other adjectives are ok..but fat isn’t? Call me thin, tall, short, etc and I won’t take offense, I might even enjoy it. But call me fat and that’s a low blow? What nonsense da?

When we use the word “fat” as a description, why do we see it as a negative or an offensive term?

Here’s an example- a social media post recently went viral; a young couple’s prom pictures got the internet swooning. But what became a bigger news is someone’s unpleasant comment on the post, “Wow he loves you even tho you’re fat.” This sparked outrage and eventually the boy replied, addressing his girlfriend, “Your not fat baby. God made you just for me. Your perfect.”
People applauded him and give him 10/10 BF score. I’d give him only 8. Wanna know why?
In addition to the wrong usage of “your”, another thing that irked me was his first line, “Your not fat baby.”
Why? Why do you have to say that? Why couldn’t he have said it is ok if you’re fat and then moved on to say she is perfect?

There are just few of the many instances where I repeatedly hear, “never call someone fat” or never use the word “fat” on someone. Why?

Now, don’t retaliate by saying I am trivializing fat shaming or saying I should be able to call someone fat, if I want to, and that if I don’t get to, it is a grave injustice to me and is on par with the discrimination that people face through fat shaming or bullying. I AM NOT SAYING THAT.

We have attached this negative connotation to the word or related words, when describing a person. We now don’t want to use it because we think fat is a bad word. Invariably, people at the receiving end most probably will take offense if and when used.

Fat is not offensive, using it as an insult, is.
So I am only saying that let’s stop seeing fat as a bad word. Let’s stop seeing fat as ugly.

Tackling bullying or shaming, helping the victims, and reprimanding bullies is a whole other issue. What I wish to address is one, primary aspect of the bigger picture. It begins with removing this negativity or offensiveness surrounding “fat”, which ultimately will prevent fat shaming & bullying.

Actually, you know what the fundamental flaw is? We see our body as something that needs to fit in the conventional sense of beauty, good looks, attractiveness, etc. While in reality, we should be seeing our body from the perspective of health. Screw inner beauty outer beauty. None of it matters if you are unhealthy AF.

Conforming to beauty standards gives rise to prejudice and hypocrisy. But with health, there is no two ways to look at it. You are either healthy or you are not. We’ve to stop insulting/glorifying fat or skinny. Glorify good health and fitness. And this has to become both, a perceptional and a behavioural change.

A person is not beautiful just because they are thin, medium-built or fat. They are not ugly either. It is largely about being comfortable, confident and most importantly, healthy. If I am very thin and hence, I think I am gorgeous AF but my body is full of toxins, then that is no good.

On the other hand, if I have some amount of excess flesh and flab, but my nutrient levels are good and I am healthy and comfortable being who I am, then that’s great!

Simply put, when your body is healthy and fit, when your mind doesn’t care about conventional beauty standards and is comfortable in its own skin, that there, is true manifestation of inner and outer beauty.

So let me summarise –

Being fat is not ugly.

Calling someone fat is not ugly.

Shaming/insulting/bullying/humiliating someone for being fat is ugly AF.

What’s beautiful is being healthy and comfortable, inside out. 🙂

This article was originally published here.

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