Let’s talk about the word fat.
The FAT Collective
When I was younger, there were no bloggers, certainly no PLUS-SIZE bloggers, plus-size models were a size 8 and IF there were any body-positive activists fighting for examples of my body to be a part of main-stream media, I was completely unaware. However, from a very young age, I was acutely aware that FAT was the worst thing I could be. FAT and NOT Being FAT were hot topics in my house. My grandmother was a registered dietician, always trim and fit and my mother prided herself on the fact that she maintained a “perfect” size 2 hourglass until her third child. Neither of the female role models in my world wanted me to be FAT, but I was.
As a child and an adolescent, it never occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, my mom and Gram thought that FAT was the worst thing I could be, because in their minds it was the worst thing THEY could be. I didn’t know if they had ever overweight, or how their life experiences shaped them. In my experience, I felt pretty accepted and popular in spite of my FAT body. Sure, I didn’t spend my high school and college years sharing clothes with my friends, but we shared purses and lip gloss, because lip gloss IS truly ONE SIZE FITS ALL.
We all know “one size” will never fit all, but the bigger question is, do you or I want to be part of “ALL,” as it is currently defined? Can we, as FAT society, shift the paradigm from obsessively striving and dieting to be a part of “ALL” to accepting our bodies at any and every stage? Are we willing to change our relationship with the word FAT and accept ourselves for being our authentic, wonderful, creative, magical, FAT SELVES?
In my early twenties, I began contemplating a way to alter how people reacted to the word FAT. What positive strides could come from everyone reflecting and dealing with their own relationship with the word FAT. In light of recent events, this idea is back in the forefront of my thoughts. The fact that Bill Maher, who is not considered “fat,” and James Corden, who some consider FAT, each have such visceral reaction to this word that they chose to discuss it on their mainstream platforms, that speaks volumes. There is emotion fueling their reactions to FAT people. If they explored their relationship with this polarizing word, would their views change? Would Bill Maher stop shaming or gain some understanding? Would James Corden even have felt compelled to stand up for fat people around the world? (Thanks JAMES!)
My epiphany came in my mid-twenties; I was in love with a man who was a cheater. In the midst of one of our good runs, I was confronted, on my front lawn, by the girl he saw when we were on a break. She was a real life fatal attraction, BUT she was SKINNY and I was not. I was a size fourteen, in college, with a career and never sat home lonely on a Saturday night, but in my head, he was with her because she was thinner.
She verbally attacked both of us, with nothing of substance to say. Her comments repeatedly included, “she’s fat!” “How could you go back to her, she’s f***ing fat?” She obviously thought that being fat was the worst thing a girl could be too! The man in my life, attempted to stop her from diminishing my worth, by saying, “Stop saying that, you don’t even know her.” “She is a good person; you need to stop.” In that moment, I realized he was RIGHT! The only thing she “knew” about me was that I was fat and that I was her competition. I was intelligent, educated, successful, attractive, and had the confidence and personality that often turned the head of guys who’d never dated a FAT girl. The only ammunition she had was that she was skinny and I was not.
I interjected and took the word fat back for my own use. I said, “Yep, I am fat and it must kill you that he would still choose me over you. Your opinion means nothing to me. This conversation is over.” Empowered, enlightened, and invigorated, I turned and walked into my house. I made a conscious choice to no longer subscribe to the stereotypical insecurities and judgments of society.
It is my mission to help change the dialogue surrounding the word fat. It has been said that the negative bias against fat people is the “last acceptable prejudice.” This prejudice can only be combatted by education and daily examples and a true representation of the bodies which make-up the “ALL.”
Let’s help the world see FAT people differently and help us FAT people realize the insignificance of this adjective when used as a pejorative jab. “What is your relationship with the word FAT? How has this relationship evolved from the first time you were cognizant of it affecting your life?”
No matter your size, Brianna and I, would love to hear your answers. We are accepting essays, tweets, posts, etc. Your thoughts could possibly be used in a big project on which we are collaborating. Please submit your answers to TheFATCollectiveProject@gmail.com or #FATCollectiveProject.
Written by Violette Tilley
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