I identify with the word 'fat' for two reasons:
- It is (read: should be) a neutral descriptor, similar to adjectives such as 'short' or 'tall'. It is a fact: My body is fat (and tall, and I have brown hair and lots of freckles).
- It is an intentional political act that I do to align myself and my work with fat activist communities and fat positive ideologies
Until about six years ago, I would not have been able to say the word 'fat' out loud without crying, and I certainly would have never used that word to describe myself.
In an interview on the podcast This American Life, Lindy West says that fat people shy away from the word because we are desperately hoping people won’t notice that we are fat. I think this was true for me. This fear explains many of my past behaviours, and I think it explains why fat people often overcompensate in different ways to reassure the rest of the world that they are still good people.
Fat people work so hard to accommodate or negate other people’s horrible feelings towards them and their bodies. It takes up a lot of energy, it is debilitating, and it is so very, very real.
I realize now that talking about being fat in an open and honest way allows people to care for you and love you as you are; that embracing the word does not have to be an isolating experience; that saying the word with confidence gives others confidence that there is nothing wrong with you. Being honest about my body and how it moves through the world allows people to know how to care for me, and to understand my experiences.
If you identify as fat (or would like to), I hope that doing so has a similar impact for you, too.