Often, when I say that, people rush in to assure me I am not. I know they mean well when they do this, but to be honest, it’s insulting. I need no euphemisms to describe my body. I’m fat, and I have been my whole life.
There’s nothing wrong with me. My size is neither a bad or good thing; it’s value neutral. It just is. Some people are tall, others are short. Some are blond, others are brunette or redhead. Some folks are thin while others are fat.
When I describe myself as fat, I am not insulting myself. I’m simply saying that my body is larger than most others’ are. It’s a simple fact. I could also describe myself as someone with brown eyes and red hair, or someone with freckles.
There’s a meme that’s always going around, which says, you aren’t fat, you have fat. I can’t put into words how much I hate that. It’s erasure. This is part of my identity. It pretty much has to be — I’m large enough so that the world treats me differently. It affects many, many things, from where I can buy clothes to who wants to date me (or doesn’t) to how I’m treated in stores or restaurants (especially restaurants).
In saying those things, I’m not berating my size. There’s nothing wrong with being fat. What’s wrong is the way the world reacts to it. When the world tells me I am disgusting, the problem isn’t with me. It’s with the world. When people claim to care about my health but then mock me for exercising, the onus is not on me to change my size. It’s on everyone else to change their attitude. The f-word is only considered bad because we’ve marginalized millions of people based solely on how much adipose tissue they store.
Since I can’t walk out my front door without hearing something about how people who happen to look like me are destroying something — the economy, the healthcare industry, whatever — I get to claim my identity how I so choose.
And I choose “fat.”
When you tell me I’m not, your attempts at reassurance are upholding the tired, out-of-date concept that my body size is bad. You’re saying there’s something wrong with my identity, with my body, with me.
I embrace “fat” because there’s no reason not to. It’s a concise, accurate, and neutral descriptor, a simple adjective that doesn’t say anything about my worth as a person.
I’m fat. Don’t tell me I’m not.
Note: I have also published this post on Medium. If you like it, please go there and give it some applause.