A friend called me a fat bitch during some anticlimactic battle when we were sixteen. It was the worst thing anyone had called me. I hung up the phone on her immediately.
You know that feeling you get in your diaphragm? Like someone’s decided that THAT specific point on your body is now a massive black hole, and the rest of you is going to get sucked inside? Well when she called me fat, it felt like that, times three billion. I was only sixteen, and the idea of someone thinking I wasn’t skinny was the worst thing that could ever happen ever. I remember crying to my boyfriend at the time, and he reassured me that I wasn’t fat. I was beautiful and gorgeous and a shining example of stunning cuteness (I’m milking it now, but you get the point).
As I matured, I looked for constant validation from other people to reassure myself that I wasn’t actually fat. I remember refusing to wear the knee-high socks with my uniform during high school because I was afraid of people judging my legs. I’d ask my parents if I was fat and they’d say just ‘chubby’, or ‘curvy’. Those words hurt me too, but as long as people weren’t blatantly calling me fat, I was cool with it.
A few years after the incident, something life-changing happened. I watched a documentary called The Fat Body (In)visible. It was a self acceptance piece directed by PhD student Margitte Kristjansson. My big epiphany occurred when both Jessica and Keena made it obvious that you can in fact be fat and beautiful.
Fat and beautiful? No. Never. Every time I asked people if I was fat, or when I referred to myself as fat, they would immediately dismiss the word and tell me I was pretty. I could never be both. After delving further into the body-positive world, I discovered that the word fat is not an insult. Fat is something on your body, it does not make up the entirety of your being, and plus, using fat as an insult is lazy. If you want to let someone know how disgusting they are to you, try something more creative, like grisly, grotesque, hideous, horrid, unseemly, or unsightly. There! I’ve already got you started. Now, whenever someone calls me fat, I try and retort with my favourite quote from American Dad– “Don’t lob factual statements at me as if they’re insults.”
The word fat has a bad reputation. People often assume that if you’re fat, you’re automatically lethargic and unhealthy, but you cannot judge, or know the actual state of someones heath, unless you are that person. I see a lot of people playing doctor, and posting comments similar to this nature, on Tess Munster’s Instagram. For those of you who do not know who Tess Munster is, she is an incredibly talented makeup artist, self love activist, and drop dead gorgeous, plus-size model. Tess also created the #effyourbeautystandards movement, which is aimed to, “help women show society that being fabulous isn’t limited to the size you wear!” On Tess’s Instagram, she often posts beautiful photographs of herself wearing whatever the hell she wants, and for some reason, people think it’s okay to jump in with their concern for her health, their opinion on her body shape, or just to express their disgust. Supporters always jump to Miss Munster’s defence, but the ignorance is never-ending. It perplexes me that people think it’s okay to comment and pass judgment on a body that is not their own. It is never helpful to tell someone how to lose weight or what to eat. It is never alright to let someone know that you think they’re unhealthy. And it is absolutely never-ever-in-a-million-billion-trillion years okay to tell someone how their body makes you feel.
The really cool thing is a lot of people have also started to ‘take back the word’ fat. Fancy Lady Industries creates and sells fabulous fat necklaces that aim at taking the sting out of the three-letter word. Chubby Cartwheels, another online shop, not only sells beautiful plus size clothing, but also ‘big body hottie’ buttons. There’re now stores online that have started producing jewlery, clothing, and just about anything else you can think of that is aimed to take back the word fat.
I often think about the time my friend called me a fat bitch. I also often think about how I would react if someone called me that now. I’d like to think I would laugh and dismiss the comment. I can only hope that one day, that three-letter word can be reclaimed and used positively. Whether thin or fat, we all have the right to find ourselves attractive.
Until then, I can happily say that this fat bitch is doing alright.