Fat. Think about that word. If you were using it in a sentence, is it a noun? Is it an adjective? So many people use it as a judgment (English teachers: Is that an official label for certain words?).
Often times I refer to myself as fat. There is no denying it. I am not blind. I can see myself in the mirror. To me, the word is an adjective. I am fat. I am also 5 feet, six inches tall. I also have long hair. I also am known for my over enthusiasm in life. Those are traits — not indicators of my success in life, my like-ability or my character. Of course, I did not come to this conclusion overnight, or without many tears, insecurities, bad choices and maybe a little counseling.
When I tell people I’m fat, it sends them into panic mode, and they begin to stammer. “You’re not fat!” LIE! “You are beautiful inside and out!” DODGE “How about those Bears?” AVOIDANCE “SQUIRREL” DISTRACTION Why do we get nervous? Why do we freak out? When will we see the word FAT as merely an adjective, as it should be? When will the stigma be lifted from that word?
I always tease that fat people are actually nicer people because they try harder due to low self esteem and the effort to be seen as worthy in the eyes of the world. I also say I’m glad I grew up with fat girl mentality because it made me develop a personality to fall back on. Woes be to the overly confident skinny girls who skated by on stunning smiles, girlish giggles and hair flipping, but then inevitably got old. Now they’ve got NOTHING! I hid my insecurities by punching boys in the arm and challenging them to contests of strength and skill.
I want to go back to the attitude from the Baroque period when being fat was revered.
Being fat indicated wealth because those people had an abundance of food and an abundance of money that allowed them to sit around and eat and not work. Yeah — I think going back to that type of thinking is a winning game plan. First, become fat. I have that one nailed. Second, become wealthy. That may take awhile.
In my youth (as with so many others), I felt my worth was tied to my weight like an ox in a yoke. I was able to blame my failures and shortcomings on the fact that my jeans didn’t fit, or people were judging me. The funny thing is, now that I’m older and a wee bit wiser, I have actually talked to skinny people who felt the same way. WAIT! WHAT?
In my world, if I had been skinny, my life would have been a breeze. I could wear cute clothes and smile with confidence. What worries would I have if I didn’t have to count calories and chart physical activity and drink horrible protein shakes and shop endlessly for something affordable that fit and consume mass quantities of leafy greens? I would be carefree and skip through life with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.
It was really big news to me to converse with a skinny person who had many of the same worries, only in reverse. She struggled with feeling ugly because her bones stuck out. Heck, I haven’t seen my collarbones in years. Hip bones? Hidden beneath a protective layer of body fat.
My skinny friend indicated she often had to shop in the children’s section of the clothing store, and so her clothing choices tended toward immature. She didn’t want to wear Dora and Diego leggings, or Sesame Street characters on her shirts. I’m sure I looked oddly puzzled during our conversation because I had never encountered this mindset. It was as foreign to me as the desire some people have to launch themselves out of a perfectly good aircraft to plummet to the ground in an adrenaline flooded rush.
Why would you do that? Why would you want to? Why would you think that? Why wouldn’t you want to be skinny? My friend gave me some very good reasons.
So, on the eve of my 50th birthday, I have decided I will spend the second half of my century on earth (keep your fingers crossed that I last that long) viewing the word fat as merely an adjective and will launch a campaign to enlighten the masses. I will wear my label with pride and encourage others to do the same. I will eat the Twinkie, enjoying every morsel and knowing it will not condemn me to a life of depressing solitude.
Lori Boekeloo of Hennepin is a mother of three. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or friend her on Facebook for more humor and inspiration on a daily basis.