Reclaiming “fat”

I recently read an article on iVillage.com by Virginia Sole-Smith about reclaiming the word “fat.” Here’s a little taste:

For starters, fat (unlike many derogatory terms) has other meanings. It’s an essential (and tasty!) macronutrient. It’s also, as Ragen Chastein of Dances With Fat points out, just your basic adjective: “When I’m having a meeting with someone I’ve not met I tell them ‘I’m a short, fat, brunette.’ Plenty of people have told me ‘Oh, don’t call yourself fat!’ but nobody has ever said ‘Oh, don’t call yourself brunette!’ I purposefully use fat as a descriptor because I think it’s important for me to reclaim the word with no negative charge.”

It’s only our thin-obsessed culture that has decided fat is the opposite of everything good and beautiful. In many other cultures, fat women are the local Megan Foxes. Skinny is the insult there. This isn’t better — I want a world where we don’t use any body shape as a form of judgment. But it does take some of the power away from the word when you stop to think about its other connotations.

It reminded me of when I was younger and my mom would comment on some woman in a store. She would balk in a disgusted tone, “Ugh. That woman is too skinny.” I’ve always been raised in a household that understood that “healthy” was more important than fat or skinny. Sure, it still hurt when I was called fat in middle school, but mostly because I associated being fat with being an unhealthy person. If someone had said, “Ew. You’re skinny.” I probably would have been just as hurt, because I was raised to believe that skinny meant unhealthy.

We were taught to eat what your body craves. Otherwise, you’ll just end up eating some lame substitute and then what you wanted anyway, therefore overeating. I learned this from a woman who eats salad for breakfast because that’s what she craved. We were never deprived of either desserts of vegetables, and we learned our way around food through tasting and testing.

My mother, as a beauty industry professional, would always comment on other aspects of people, as opposed to their waistlines.

“He has beautiful thick, curly hair.”
“Her complexion is dazzling.”
“Look at those big blue eyes.”

She taught us that there are other aspects to beauty than people’s body mass indexes.

“He is the most compassionate person I’ve ever met.”
“I could trust her with anything or anyone, even my kids.”
“I’ve never met someone as willing to give as her.”

Etc.

I think that we should reclaim the word “fat” from it’s negative connotation, and realize that there are all kinds of people. There are big women, and there are small women. There are tall women, and there are short women (holla!). There are women with long and short torsos; there are women with long and short legs. There are women with blonde hair, and there are women with brown hair.

We shouldn’t judge people based on their bodies. It’s about being healthy. There are tons of skinny women who can’t climb a set of stairs or do a push-up. I took a weight-lifting class from a woman that no one would call skinny, but should could kick my rear in a heartbeat–lifting more than I could, doing more push-ups than I could, etc.

That’s what ‘m trying to do, anyway. I’m trying to eat healthier, less processed food, and more locally-grown, environmentally-friendly foods. I’m trying to reduce my meat consumption and focus on what’s good for me and the earth.

Here’s a great post about body-image and the effects of media pressure on women. It’s time we stop bullying ourselves and others and focus on feeding our bodies whole foods that it deserves and stop judging other people based on their bodies. The “ideal” body is a healthy one, not a fake one made up by Hollywood Photoshop geeks!

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