8 women on why they are reclaiming the word fat
In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, Kourtney Kardashian explained why she avoids using the word "fat" in front of her 4-year-old daughter Penelope.
"There are so many conversations that we have without thinking the kids are listening," she said. "I just don't want to start getting anybody self-conscious. They say if a mother is confident about her body that the daughters are way more likely to not have eating disorders."
But, as Mic wrote when the interview was released, the issue isn't necessarily with the word fat — it's with the negative connotation associated with it. Despite simply being another label, many are insulted when they are called fat or fear the word as it's so often equated to "unattractive."
There is a community of body-positive activists within Instagram and Tumblr working to alter the definition of what society has deemed beautiful all whilst spreading messages of self-love and calling themselves fat.
So, with this in mind, we decided to eight of these bloggers why they originally reclaimed the word and how it has since changed their views of their bodies.
Melissa Gibson, @yourstruelymelly
"I started my own body positive journey just two years ago. I had come across a few body positive accounts and they really inspired and empowered me to rethink the feelings and ideas I had surrounding my body and being fat. 'Fat' is correlated to undesirability, laziness, imperfection, ugliness, and so many other negative traits in our society currently... These aren't necessarily words that anybody wants to associate with themselves... Fat people and especially fat women exist in a world where we are constantly judged according to our very visible bodies, we are ridiculed, discriminated against, degraded, used, compared to. With all this in mind, our society is also very sensitive about calling people fat unless in an intentionally negative way... I'm fat. I now say it and own it... Fat to me is just a descriptive word... I'm no longer afraid of the word because I know it no longer defines me, but I get to define my own self in my fat body."
"I am a transgender woman of color and I have been transitioning for the past two years. I think that this very raw and emotional aspect of transitioning, where you really need to dig deep into your soul and mind to figure out who you really are, led me to the body positive community... I started using the word fat earlier this year. While I was transitioning, many things changed not just physically but socially... My transition propelled some of these issues to the front, and one of the biggest ones was body image. Something that I never really gave much thought to, was now something I had to worry about... I started using the word fat after I noticed one of my friends describe herself as a fat girl with all of the confidence in the world. I thought to myself, 'Gia, you're a fat trans girl and there's nothing wrong with that, there's no need for you to be ashamed of it, your body is valid.' So I began using the word fat daily, to describe myself and to show appreciation to my body and all of its curves. I do this because I think that by giving visibility to the word, just like giving visibility to trans women, we can normalize these things that society has deemed to bad or different and this will further bring acceptance and understanding... Being fat to me means that I have self love, self acceptance, that I have a positive outlook for my curvaceous, large framed body that carries my mind and soul. Being fat to me means that I am confident in myself, it means that I've shed the ideals of what society tells me I need to look like as a woman."
Megan Crabbe, @Bodyposipanda
"The word fat used to have the power to knock me out cold. I've spent my entire life living in fear of that word and doing everything I could to run away from it. I first thought that I was too fat when I was five-years-old, at 10 I thought I was fat enough to start a diet, at 14 I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and nearly died while running away from fat. After recovery when I actually became a little bit fat I spent years being disgusted with my reflection and I kept running, cycling through crash diets, binge eating and exercise addiction. When I found body positivity at 21 my eyes were opened to a whole new way of seeing fat... We live in a culture that propagates the fear of fat everywhere we turn... That fear hurts us all, no matter what size we are... Fat isn't synonymous with lazy, unattractive or any other negative connotation our culture has given it. It's just another word, a neutral descriptor, a harmless adjective describing body size... When we reclaim the words that have been used to bring us down we take their power away. Some people are fat, some people are thin, some people are chubby, some people are muscular, and all people are worthy of self love and respect, no matter how their outer shells look."
"I stumbled into body positivity through my eating disorder recovery journey... and it changed my absolute life, before this I didn't know you could ever actually be happy with your body... This word fat plagued me for years. I almost spent a whole decade being bullied, being shackled by and fearing the word Fat. This word held more power over me than any insult, cuss word, opinion or thought. It was truly the worst thing someone could say to me... Fat became a word that empowers me because I shifted my relationship with it. It shifted because I realized that my thoughts and ideas around that word could change. Even though others have associated stigmas about the word fat, I had the power to create my own definition to understand that fat is simply a word — a word that describes my body. I love my body. I love myself. Therefore I am cool with the word Fat. Your size and fatness says nothing about you as a person. Literally nothing. It doesn't describe your eating habits, exercise habits, personality, motivations, self-love, body positivity, health or happiness."
"I was always fat growing up and I started seeing some plus size fashion bloggers pop up online. I saw happy, successful, beautiful women who also happened to be fat and it taught me I could be all of those things, too... I saw a group of women living their lives right now, as fat women, instead of waiting to live until they reached an impossible beauty standard. I knew I wanted to be part of that... It takes a lot of time and learning and retraining to finally get that fat is just a descriptive word and I should take no more offense to it than a thin person should take offense to the word 'thin.' When I don't see the word as negative, it takes the power away from people trying to use it as an insult... There are so many horrible things a person can be and fat isn't anywhere on that list."
Ragini Nag Rao, @kittehinfurs
"If you're fat, you've almost certainly been called fat as an insult at some point in your life. It's a difficult word to reclaim, especially in a fatphobic culture where being fat is pretty much the worst thing anyone can be. That's why we have so many euphemisms for fat. This is what's great, though: once you start calling yourself fat, once you start using the worst name you've ever been called to describe yourself in a totally mundane and everyday context, it loses all its power to hurt you... It's just a word. And it doesn't actually mean anything other than the dictionary definition. Fat doesn't mean unattractive or lazy or any of the million other stereotypes that people automatically latch on to. And even if you're one of the stereotypes — I'm mostly unemployed and have chronic illness, for instance — fuck what people think anyway! You have the right to live your life the way you want to just as much as a thin person does."
Rachele Cateyes, @radfatvegan
"I am fat and I love the word fat. With a million reminders a day that fat is the worst thing that can happen to you, it is pretty bad ass to celebrate the word fat as a term of empowerment. Fat is an insult if you believe being fat is bad. It isn't some terrible thing that happened to me. It describes my body, community and activism... The earliest I can remember seeing the word fat being thrown around in a positive way was in the old LiveJournal communities. We talked about fat acceptance books and had a Fatshion group. Artists like Natalie Perkins sell the word fat in bold sparkly cursive and authors like Marilyn Wann gave us Fat!So? Let's also mention the history of queer women of color paving the way for radical activism and body diversity. We can all become better humans if we start using the word fat unapologetically and let go of the fatphobia attached to it. Representation of fat bodies and superfat bodies doesn't hurt either. Seeing other bodies like your own is so important when it comes to feeling like your body type exists and you are allowed to live in it and wear what you want."
"Getting into fashion is what made me realize that the world very blatantly didn't treat people my size the same way they treated everyone else... I had only shopped at Lane Bryant for most of my life because it was the ONLY brick and mortar store that was dedicated to people my size. Every other store that MAYBE had some plus sizes had us shoved in the back of the store or hung the five total plus size garments on one rack... A close friend started encouraging me to join Tumblr because she said that she thought i'd love seeing other plus size peoples' posts and that I should really start posting my outfits to show other people where i got clothing from... I would post outfits always referring to myself as 'curvy' or 'plus sized' but never 'fat'. I quickly learned the hard lesson that putting your plus size body on the internet for all to see was, to some awful people, an open invite to criticize, bully, and tear you apart. I would get comments like 'ugh you're FAT!! SO FAT.' It would really, really get to me. then, after a long while, I realized — why does that hurt me? I AM fat. But, I'm so much more. I'm a great friend and I'm fat. I'm a good singer and I'm fat. I'm someone who loves fashion and I'm fat. ...that shouldn't bother me... I started using it because the more we normalize these words that were used against us, the less hurtful power they have... Fat is most definitely not the worst thing you can be. you can be anything in the world... and be fat."