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

“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

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  1. Yes ma’am. This. It’s a long road and due to health issues, I keep going back and forth. But, I’m always fat. and 75% of the time, I’m 80% okay with it. Thank you.

  2. i feel that people need to not comment on physical appearance at all. i always feel uncomfortable when people comment on my appearance, regardless of how nice the remark is. i would rather someone compliment my intellect, sense of humor or my fab sense of style;) those are qualities i have cultivated, unlike my pretty eyes or double ds ha

  3. “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.”

    I love this…It is such an amazing reminder…I’ve struggled with body image since a very young age. And I’ve finally begun loving my body. It’s kinda great to know that other girls have felt this way, and have such a positive view about themselves now. Thanks for writing this

  4. I totally get you, the worst “compliment” I`ve got was by my doctor; one day my mother basically dragged myself to go see an endocrinologist, since she thought i might have some sort of disease (sorry i forgot the name for it XD) that was making me gain even more weight. Well after assuring my mother that I was not sick, he completely went 180 and started shaming me on being overweight telling me that I would have the hardest time ever getting a boyfriend and basically that i was going to be jobless, friendless and lonely for life and then he ended up saying but you have such a pretty face and more empty compliments and comments about how great my life is going to be when I finally lose all that extra fat. Like literally everything in my life is going to magically fix itself just because I lost some weight.
    Funny how sometimes those who are supposed to help end up doing exactly the opposite. The good thing is that I had already figured out my own reasons to lose weight and also my own terms of doing it, so I wasn’t completely ambushed by the doctor’s words and I have a realistic expectation of what is going to happen afterwards.
    I would be lying if I told you i didn’t got upset or that i dont stress over it from time to time but I try not to pressure myself to lose weight quickly and pay no attention to my friends weight obsessions which is mostly directed at themselves but kind of hit close to home, and is sometimes unbearable in the sense that weigh loss is in nearly every freaking conversation we have as a group.
    I don’t want my life to be revolving around losing weight and sometimes it seems that is what’s expected off fat people and women in general and when it’s not some of the people around you seem eager to remind you on a councious or uncouncious way, and excusing or trying to redeem themselves once they aknowledged what they’ve done, with compliments or giving false expectations about how fantastic everything is going to be after the weight loss.

  5. I’m good with my body. It is what it is, and my metabolism and craving for oreos, cake and cookie butter in one sitting are God given yes they are. I dress fabulously in clothes that fit and flatter, and my confidence rocks the world.

    But I know, all the while, that my Fibromyalgia, which causes my living agony would be so much better if I lost so much weight. And that sits in the back of my mind. And thats a thought, that no amount of charm can over run.

  6. Sing it. Just … preach. My heart is steady and my cholesterol is fine. Fat does NOT equal unhealthy!

  7. <3 this article!!!

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

  9. 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.

    • 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?

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

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

  12. 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.

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

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

  15. Love this article!

  16. 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

  17. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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. :)

        • 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.

          • 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Thank you so much! I’m gonna print this and hang it on my refrigerator! ;-)

  20. Yes! Thank you so much for this!