30 July 2013
F-A-T: Trampling the Taboo
Since moving to the U.K., I’ve been really lucky. Things haven’t gone exactly, precisely, totally, 100 percent according to plan…but they never do, right?
I was pretty worried about the whole “making new friends” thing. I am not a social creature. Always on the more introverted side of the spectrum, I tend to worry about my lack of being able to communicate with most humans. Ironically, it’s the worrying that makes me even more awkward in social situations, so I end up not making any friends, but unsure as to whether this is caused by my natural introversion or my anxiety revolving around it. But anyway, one of the many reasons I have been lucky is because I have indeed made some friends: a handful of incredible plus-size women who I have really clicked with – and not just because we can actually share clothes, which is usually a rarity for me in my friend groups.
Of course, when you are with plus-size women, and you are a plus-size woman, body talk will come up. I imagine this isn’t a size thing; it’s just a woman thing. So a few days ago, when I had the pleasure of hanging out with two of the aforementioned lovely gals, one of them brought up the following point (don’t quote me on this verbatim as my memory on evenings filled with wine is never crystal clear):
I like my body. I like being fat. What I hate is when people say I’m not fat – when they lie to me. I know I’m fat, so don’t insult me by pretending otherwise.
I couldn’t have agreed more. It seemed like she was echoing thoughts I have had plenty of times in the past. I know I’m big. I like being big. So don’t pretend I’m not. The end.
But I didn’t always feel that way. Being “fat” or “chubby” or what have you, isn’t something you just love instinctually. We aren’t conditioned to. We are conditioned to think it’s wrong. But there is no way that that ideal can change unless we take back the word “fat” in and of itself. People still treat this little three-letter word as shameful source of embarrassment, so that in the end it is either shunned for being insulting, or conversely, used as an insult. The only way to change either of these preconceptions is to begin using it ourselves – to use the terms that those like Gabi Gregg have coined: fatkini, or that my friend Nastaran of Curves and I loves to use: fat-cropping (you can check her out rocking the crop top here). If we start using the word, if we embrace the word, if we don’t let it bother us when it is said in a derogatory way, then we can resume ownership.
I have known both friends and family in the past to be frightened of using the word around me – instead substituting it with words like “thick” or “big-boned.” I have no problem with these words. I am thick. I am big-boned. But I am also a bit fat, and that’s OK! There is no need to lie. There is no need to pretend. To be honest, I love the word, because it is real and true. It is descriptive and sensual. It paints a picture. It isn’t to be feared.
If someone were to describe me aesthetically, they may say that I have hazel eyes; I am tall; I have big ears; my nose is small – and I hope that they wouldn’t fear also saying I have a huge butt or that I have quite a bit of fat on my body. Because in the end, those are the things that make me up on a basic, visual level. The latter two are things that make a lot of us up – and there is no shame in that. And once we start embracing it, others will be forced to follow in our heavy footsteps.