So my mother sees me in my new jeans (finally got some clothes that fit) and says, “You have to stop calling yourself fat.”
I’m not going to do that for three reasons:
One, I am fat. This is scientific truth. Perhaps compared to my former size (i.e. this time last year) I appear fitter and thinner, but objectively, I still have enough fat on me to comfortably say I’m fat.
Now, I personally think BMI is just about the worst way to evaluate someone’s body, but let’s just use it since that is what practically every doctor and health organizations use. (Even though they are all wrong!). According to BMI, I’m in the “Overweight”category, but only barely. I would have to lose 30 lbs to make it into the “normal” category. (Want to personally dispute BMI? Check out the Photographic Height/Weight Chart. It’s pretty cool)
Want more proof, I wear “plus” sizes. I don’t have to shop in the plus size store anymore, but according to industry standards plus size is size 12 and up. I just barely squeeze into those 12 Old Navy pants, and on top I’m much bigger (always will be). (Brand by brand there is a lot of discrepancy, so I may be anywhere from a 12 to a 16 in pants.) The dress I wore this weekend was an 18 and fit just perfectly. It is just how I’m put together.
Anyway, that isn’t the main thing I was going to write about.
Two, I will always be fat. Regardless of my size, my weight, my waist circumference, I will always be fat. It is actually dangerous for me to think of myself as anything but fat.
This is something I decided about a year ago when I started this whole lifestyle change. My best example to explain my thinking is this: If someone is an alcoholic, they are always an alcoholic, even if they don’t drink. Even after they haven’t had a single drink in 25 years, they will still describe themselves as an alcoholic, because to do otherwise is dangerous for their sobriety. Now you can argue that I’m using the wrong word, but for me the word fat describes my essential, internal being-ness. And to start to describe myself (or even think of myself) as anything other than fat is a danger to my health.
I’m not focused on how many pounds I lose each week, I focus on how many miles I can walk or run. I don’t care about what size I fit into (unless the clothes are actually falling off my body) but rather that I’m fueling my body enough to be strong, healthy, and productive. I need to keep doing that, regardless of my size.
Finally, one other thought.
I want to reclaim the word fat. I’ve been following a lot of body love and fat activist bloggers, and listening to what they say. One of the big take-aways is that fat has become this terrible thing, the worst thing someone can say about you. Also, fat shaming and denying people rights based on weight is still considered okay. There is something really wrong with society that they needed
to do a study to prove that shaming people about their weight is harmful.
I was recently reading a FB thread about the Megan Trainor song. Someone wrote “I want to like the song, but I don’t think it we should send the message to young girls that it is ok to be overweight.” We are making a little headway, but this is the prevailing opinion in society. So, for the record:
- Being fat doesn’t mean you are unhealthy. Not being fat doesn’t mean you are healthy.
- Even if being fat did mean you are unhealthy (which it doesn’t, see #1) that is no one else’s business.
- Telling people they are fat doesn’t make them less fat. In fact, it probably makes them fatter. (see link to study, above)
If you want more, Ragan Chastain at Dances with Fat says it better than I do, and in much better depth.