"But You Have Such A Pretty Face!" And Other Things You Should Stop Saying To Your Fat Friends

“But you have such a pretty face!”

I am willing to throw down my savings account and bet that every single fat girl in the world has heard this at least once. This week. It has been so imprinted in our brains that “fat” is a bad word, that we simply cannot help ourselves and jump to the defense of any – self-proclaimed or not – fat/chunky/big girl whenever one of those words is thrown her way. Fat is real, you guys! It is an actual thing. And not every fat girl spends her nights alone in her room depressed about it and cutting out photos of supermodels to hang on her refrigerator to remind her to go for the celery instead of that dark chocolate bar stashed in the back. In an effort to explain how some big girls get through life not obsessed with eliminating their fatness, I’ve compiled a list of things that you should probably stop saying to your fat friends. Starting with that first one:

But you have such a pretty face!
I’ve heard this one a lot and this is not a humble brag at all because after you hear it a few times, you start to think that people are saying it not because they think it’s true, but because they want to make you feel better about being fat. To which I say (and this is a straight up brag): Yeah. I know. My face is pretty fly! Fat and pretty (or hot or sickeningly beautiful or a bomb dime piece) are not mutually exclusive. You can be both. At the same time. Telling us that we have a pretty face can sometimes come off as if you think that that’s all we’ve got going for us and we would be worthless without it. Thank goodness you’ve got that pretty face, girl! Because if I didn’t? Would I be summoned to the life of a hermit, only leaving my apartment to pay the guy who delivers my groceries and the occasional emergency trip for toilet paper? Because what else do I have to offer the world!?

Have you tried [X workout]?
Yes. Probably. A common misconception about fat people is that we’re lazy and simply don’t have the capabilities to figure out how to operate the elliptical machine. Believe it or not, some of us work out regularly. Some of us work out when we feel like it. And some of us don’t work out at all. Just like thin people! I was a runner at one point. I tore my ACL in college and was forced to start swimming for cardio. I got really into yoga and pilates for a bit. For a month, I dragged myself to a 6am spin class at my gym. This one time, I got really motivated by So You Think You Can Dance and started taking hip hop classes on the weekend. I know how to work out and I’ve been doing it forever, and it’s never made me thin. Despite a few spurts of weight loss in my early twenties, I’ve realized that I was simply not blessed with a thin, athletic body, regardless of how much cardio I do.

Do you want to cut carbs with me?
The only acceptable answer to this – fat or not – is: Absolutely not! Kidding aside, much like that of fitness fads, so many fat folks have already tried so many diets. We live in the world too, and we’re subjected to the same array of crash diets that the media feeds us that you are. I’ve been a vegetarian, a vegan, on the paleo diet, on no-carb (I know!) and “just cutting back on dairy.” Most of these changes in my diet came with the belief that they would change my body. I believed that simply cutting out animal products would give me the body of a ballerina. If I could manage to up my protein intake and drastically cut carbs I would look like a strong, yet feminine, bikini model. But even at my thinnest, I was still a big girl who had a hard time getting pants over her thighs, and it had very little to do with my carb intake. I’ve been through the diet roller coaster, and I’ve yet to emerge from one thin. It’s not always the food. Sometimes it’s just us. And some of us are so over cutting out pizza indefinitely in the hopes of obtaining a different body.

You are NOT fat!
Girl, stop. Yes, I am. And as I’ve mentioned before, 75% of the time I’m 90% okay with it. Referring to myself as “fat” isn’t always self-deprecating or an indication of low self-esteem or an insult to myself. It’s not a bad word and it doesn’t make me feel gross. It’s just what it is. I’ve accepted it, and you should too.

Now trust me, it took me a long time to get to the point where I can proudly yell, “I’m fat!” and not collapse in a heap of sadness and anger at what I perceived to be my own lack of self-control that was keeping me from the body of my dreams. Sure, there are times when I’m really not friends with my body – and at least once a month I curse my lower stomach for being a butt head – but for the most part, my body and I are totally buddies. Maybe in the future I’ll decide that I’m not okay with it and I’ll make some changes. For now though, life is so much easier when I embrace the body that I have, love it, take care of it, and just keep doin’ me.

Image via Shoebox

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=780506336 Kimberly Hirsh

    Thanks for this post, Ramou! People’s attempts to make me feel better are mostly unnecessary, and I bet that’s true for lots of ladies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=18901271 Kristen Zemeitus

    If I wasn’t Ramou’s number one fan already…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508219987 Selina Izabella Wilken

    “75% of the time I’m 90% okay with it” – haha, anyone else confused by the unexpected maths?

    No seriously… amazing article. We need someone to SAY these things damnit! Glad you’re doing it here! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560415491 Becky Gilbert

    One of my favs was from my (obsessively super-skinny) sister in law upon hearing a story about a cute guy that i had sex with: “But I didn’t think you were the kind of girl who had sex!” LOL…yes darling. Even fat girls get laid.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=18900644 Ramou Sarr

      Oh my word. But yes, weight/body image and sexuality is another big (ha!) issue that needs unpacking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001016783081 Jess Tholmer

    Yes. Hero.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=773195161 Nicole Studebaker


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502896228 Lauren Hardy

    Yes! Thank you so much for this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=582012276 Jime Ys

    Thank you so much! I’m gonna print this and hang it on my refrigerator! 😉

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380021309 Christina Martinez

    Accept my fatness as another form of beauty. Growing up my nickname was “Gorda” which translates to “fat girl,” even after I lost a lot of my weight in junior high (it came back after high school). I’m shapely, comfy and proud.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=18900644 Ramou Sarr

      Shamoo, girl. Shamoo for years. *fist bump in solidarity*

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1388945930 Christin Richter

    you forgot the skinny girls that stand next to one and go “meh, i’m sooo fat, i need to lose weight…. *blank stare* ….ah, but you’re ok”. this week i snapped at one of my coworkers who did that. she has trouble finding clothes because XS is too big for her. yadda yadda yadda!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=681210551 Amanda Ashley Dye

      But you’re still body shaming HER. I complain all the time about not finding clothes small enough for me because, believe it or not, it’s a really awful thing. I also get told constantly that I should eat more. Body shaming goes both ways, you know.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1420650050 Emily Ciara Riffle

        Amen! I’m a big girl, but I totally hear you. Body shaming goes both ways, and until everyone understands that, there will always be ignorant “You’re so pretty…” statements. If someone wants to lose/gain weight, be supportive (unless there is a legitimate health concern.) Otherwise, let them be cool with who they are. I’m working on my weight, but I’ve never wanted to be skinny. When I get back to a size 14, and my cholesterol is in check, I’ll be happy. :)

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=18900644 Ramou Sarr

          I don’t think that Christin was body shaming her co-worker, just pointing out the ridiculousness of a woman who has trouble finding an XS that fits her calling herself fat – because fat isn’t a feeling. Body shaming does extend to all bodies, but there is this stigma and fear and public shaming that is particularly prevalent when it comes to bigger bodies.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1420650050 Emily Ciara Riffle

            I don’t think Christin was body shaming. I was just agreeing with the comment that Amanda made about body shaming going both ways. It is annoying for especially skinny girls to complain about being fat. But everyone has a self-conscious issue. And some of these girls could have an eating disorder or other mental health problem that makes them see themselves as such. Anyway, this is extremely off topic. I think that everyone should just be happy with the body they have. tweak it as you see fit, but don’t hate it, and don’t shame other women. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. I truly believe that with all of my heart.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1142373172 Vanessa O’Shea

    Amen, Preach, Testify!!!! Thanks for this, I’m finally ok with the word fat after years of thinking if I didn’t say it no one would notice haha

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1259118984 Claire De Lune

    Love this article!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506585130 Colleen Sweeney

    I am guilty of saying the last one to my youngest sister.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1138102495 Kimberly Block

    So when someone says “I’m fat” what do I say? “yeah you are”? ….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1125823571 Leandra Medina

    Another good one is “at least you’re not as big as (points out random larger female)” that’s always cute. Also, when you’re hanging out with a friend who is naturally very thin, and she’s complaining about not being bigger and says, if only we could take fat from you and put it into me, then we’d both be perfect! Yay! Yeah if only. If only a non sensical procedure could be performed to finally make everyone perfect in the eyes of some imaginary person that will never exist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=606855152 Lisa Jane Scott

    You also forgot when you do lose weight and someone says…oh wow you look fantastic…assuming they mean you looked like crap before?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1040600342 Christine Rullmann

    Thank you so much for this amazing article. Made my day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12200290 Noella Delaney

    I can’t stand walking on eggshells around any girl, whether they are fat or thin. If I give you a compliment, regarding your figure or face, I mean it, period. Everyone quit being so sensitive, not all girls are out to be catty.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=18900644 Ramou Sarr

      But if it doesn’t take much effort to not do something after someone’s said, “Hey, this kind of bothers me,” then why not put that minimal effort in, you know?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1032881996 Miranda Cumming

    GREAT article. Everybody should read this! “Fat” shouldn’t be such a taboo word…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767402866 Anna Shah Hoque

    <3 this article!!!

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