I am not fat.
No seriously, I’m not.
Okay guys, so I’ve had an epiphany during the commute to work – the language we use affects how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we act in response. Let’s talk auxiliary verbs: to be, to do, to have.
So, when someone is on the heavier side, we say they are fat. If you’re not following me, I’ll give another example: a breastfeeding mother. We don’t say that she is milk. Going back to the modal verbs, both examples are carrying something in their body, but the heavier person is considered to be fat and the breastfeeding mother is considered to have milk.
This wording is normal to us and seems fine but is somewhat problematic because it reduces the heavier person to a giant slab of adipose tissue. Big people have bones, they have organs, they have all the things everyone else does. So why does English grammar poke them in the chest and say “all you’ll ever be is your love handles”? From experience, I’d say much of the reason that people are struggling so much with their weight is because of the language used. I’ve lost two stone, but I still can’t imagine being a size 8 version of myself, because all I’ve known is that I am fat – it’s drilled into us that fat is who we are and not what we carry, so we feel like we can’t get away from it.
“Don’t be ridiculous, it’s not said with malicious intent.”
I’m pretty sure it isn’t. But that doesn’t matter because your intentions don’t correlate to how it makes a person feel. They may not notice it themselves. I surely didn’t. Even if they do, they might not care. But that doesn’t erase the fact that there are people out there who are both consciously and subconsciously affected by this. We’re Gen-Z for crying out loud. We’re meant to be the ones to challenge the things that just aren’t okay.
“If heavier people aren’t fat, then what are they?”
I’ve stopped calling myself fat. I have extra weight on my body – weight that I want to lose but I am not fat. Fat does not define me and I have so many wonderful attributes to offer the world beyond the extra weight that I have. When I lose this weight, I will not lose my spark.