I was scrolling through Facebook when I stumbled upon this article, “America’s Forgotten Plus-Size Pin-Up Girl” Hilda. It was an interesting article and the art was beautiful, but alas, my curiosity got the best of me and I made my way to the comment section. I didn’t even have to scroll before I saw this:
I’m not naive by any stretch, I knew I would find these kinds of comments but like a moth drawn to a flame, I just couldn’t resist.
The original commenter wasn’t making any insults, he seems to be asking why we flirt around the word “fat” to make it sound less negative. That is a valid question, however the first two replies are wildly inappropriate and do not accurately address the issue.
Let me begin by saying I’m not here to state anything other than my own experience and my opinion You can stop reading at any point – just click out and carry on with your life.
If you didn’t just exit out of this post, I want to say thank you for being open to what I have to say so here it is…
I think big companies profit off of fat-phobia. Perhaps the negative connotation behind “fat” is simply a marketing ploy? Who knows…
What we do know is that yes, excess body fat can indicate an unhealthy lifestyle such as laziness and bad eating habits. It is proven that a higher percentage of body fat and visceral fat can cause some serious medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, chronic back pain or bad joints etc.
On the other hand there is proof that being overweight doesn’t necessarily prevent someone from being in good shape or living an active life. We know that certain circumstances, conditions and medications actually cause weight gain, such as hypothyroidism, anti-depressants or quitting smoking. I’m not making excuses, I’m just saying that body fat doesn’t define or limit anyone.
So the original poster has a point… why do we prefer plus sized or curvy over being called fat? Well, let’s take a look at the connotation behind it. You may have heard the term “morbidly obese” – so let’s break it down:
The medical definition of morbid is indicative of disease. Being overweight can indeed induce medical problems leading to death. However, calling it a disease seems to enrage people who argue that obesity is just a disgusting habit. They claim it’s not a medical disease, but a moral deficiency that leads to disease – they believe it’s an inability to operate between right and wrong. Hence the third commenter who calls fat Americans narcissistic, he believes that fatness is habitual and selfish.
This definition of obese seems to iterate the idea that fat is gross, so I feel it’s fair to say that ‘morbid’ paired with the word ‘obese’ really means “So grossly fat that it is deadly”, maybe that’s why no one likes being called fat – it implies that you are undesirable, unlovable, untreatable and inconvenient to others.
By the way, if you’ve read this far, I’m proud of you. Let’s move on.
In my personal experience, I feel that my body shape is genetic and also my fault. I’ve battled my weight since I was a child and my family members struggle with weight but I’m not doing myself any favors when I sit on my ass instead of going to the gym. There are plenty of people with obese families who tirelessly push themselves to fight off that fate.
As I mentioned, sometimes weight gain is circumstantial – having a baby, going through depression or some other major life change can lead to putting on some pounds. In my case I gave up drinking almost 4 years ago which has been a mostly positive change, the only negative is that instead of drinking socially, I began to eat socially. Instead of meeting for drinks I’d propose to gather over lunch, coffee or dessert. But like my drinking, my relationship with food got out of hand pretty quickly. I found myself craving certain foods when I wasn’t even hungry and going out of my way to obtain them.
Luckily for me, the weight can be lost while something like cirrhosis of the liver can’t be reversed. Overeating can be arrested and managed – substance abuse is much more difficult to overcome, trust me.
Back to the issue at hand – I don’t mind being called plus sized, I also don’t have any problems with being called fat. I use the word curvy because being curvy is a desirable trait and I think I’m a desirable woman. Every woman wants to be curvy and everyone’s standards of curvy are different – there is no gold standard.
I like to see women like myself on magazine covers and fashion runways but it is often scrutinized and vilified. Plus sized advocates are accused of promoting unhealthy living and glorifying obesity, they are declared unfit role models. Even the self-proclaimed body-positive can be caught leaving comments about certain plus sized models, “She’s hardly plus sized” or “This isn’t what plus sized really looks like”. The truth is, plus-sized is just a made up word used to describe clothing, not people. It will never accurately describe people.
Fat-hating seems to be the only socially acceptable prejudice left. You can’t refuse to sit next to a black man on a train without being publicly ridiculed for your racism but you can show your disdain about being seated next to a man whose belly roll impedes your space on an airplane.
The thing is, comments like these are common on Facebook but I have never experienced hateful comments like these said to my face. At the end of the day, everyone is too consumed with their own life that they’re not really paying attention to you anyway. I know personally that when I walk into a public place, I’m not scouring the room looking for a person to criticize but I’m also a busy, mature person.
As for me, I’m making slow progress toward losing weight. When I recognized that my weight could possibly affect my ability to carry a child I decided to take control of my diet. I don’t do it to please anyone but myself. I like the body I was given and I’d like to keep it for the long haul.
I’d be interested to hear your feelings on the subject.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,