First of all, it’s important to note that FAT is not a bad thing. We all have fat. It’s essential for us to live a healthy life. It stores energy, keeps our bodies warm, protects and stabilizes our organs, and ensures that we don’t starve. That’s right…it’s actually healthy to have fat.
Diet Culture Tells Us Fat is Unhealthy
Diet culture will tell you that you can only have a certain percentage of fat if you want to be healthy, but the truth is without a radiology test, it’s impossible to determine how much of your fat is visceral (the fat that potentially can cause problems because it surrounds your organs) or subcutaneous (the cute pinchable stuff under your skin). In other words, you cannot tell if someone is healthy based on the amount of visible fat on their bodies.
Socially Acceptable Hatred Towards Fat Bodies
So, someone called you fat. What do you do? Your immediate response might be to feel insulted or upset because of your internalized fatphobia, which is the socially acceptable bias against fat people. You could even say that this is the fear or hatred towards fat bodies.
Fat is Not a Problem
Regardless of how much fat you may have, you might feel defensive when someone calls you fat. You may want to scream back that you are “not fat” or feel like telling the person that they are being mean! But before you do this, remember that FAT IS NOT A PROBLEM. Isn’t it worse to be cruel, aggressive, or lacking empathy? Fat does not harm others, so why is it considered to be so bad? Know that fatphobia is a concoction conjured up by diet culture to pressure people to buy products to rid them of fat.
Instead of Being Defensive, Teach!
Know that when people use “fat” as an insult, it’s because of their own internalized fatphobia. They might be trying to hurt you by calling you this, or they could be projecting their own insecurities onto you or maybe even feel like they are trying to help you get “healthy.” At this point, you have done the work and can understand where their bias or discrimination stems from. This is an opportunity for you to educate them!
All Bodies Are Good Bodies
All bodies come in different shapes and sizes, and genetics plays a large part in this. “Health,” which has so much internalized fatphobia in it, is not an indication of anyone’s value in this world. You are more than your physical appearance, mental health issues, or disability! Bodies change, and it’s completely normal to go up and down in weight throughout your lifetime. It’s a sign of a body well lived!
Your Weight is Not Your Worth
You might feel tempted to feel sorry for yourself, even guilty or angry over the way you look, but YOU are in control of your body! No one else has the power to make you go on a diet or feel poorly about yourself. Your worth is not a reflection of your size. Concentrate on the non-physical things that truly make you who you are!
What Can You Say?
You might have an opportunity to educate someone on fatphobia here, but perhaps you don’t have the capacity or feel the need to do so. So, what do you do? Try using one of these simple statements:
- “Fat is not a bad thing.”
- “There is nothing wrong with being fat, but there is something wrong with you trying to be mean.”
- “My body is none of your business.”
- “My health does not equal my value in this world.”
- “All bodies are good bodies!”
- “Yes, I am. Good job, you noticed.”
- “Fat, So?”
Just remember that you can walk away from bullies or fatphobic commenters at any time, knowing that your fatness does not define you.