“I’m so FAT.”
People don’t realize the impact of those words. Often times they throw variations of that phrase around when they’ve either eaten too much or are feeling a bit pudgier than usual. It’s far too overused and I know I’ve been guilty of it after devouring an entire package of Oreos (we’ve all been there). Here’s the problem though. By using that word “fat” to describe things like poor eating choices or an extra 5 pounds gained, we are actually shaming ourselves and others in the process.
Why do I hate this word so much? Let me break it down for you.
I have struggled with body image and eating disorders throughout my life. It started during those awkward early teenage years when my body went berserk and decided to carve out all of these womanly curves in my body. When you are one of the early bloomers, you can become a target of objectification by teenage boys and the hate/envy of the girls on a slower course. I didn’t know what to do with all of that attention and instead of speaking to someone about it (I now know the glories of therapy), I decided to either eat or starve my feelings.
I want you to imagine this for a moment: you’re surrounded by teenage boys ogling you, while the girls are either curve-shaming or hating on their own thinner bodies. It was too many conflicting emotions for this already overly sensitive teen. I could easily take the slurs because I was smart enough to know it was usually coming from a place of jealousy. What really got to me was their own self-criticism. All I see are these perfectly toned, beautiful teenage girls calling themselves fat, talking about chubby thighs and their imaginary muffin tops. Naturally, overly hormonal and hyper self-critical teenage me is looking at her own body and thinking: “My legs are far more stout. They actually TOUCH, and my stomach is BIGGER than any of those girls’. So are they calling ME fat?”
In my young self-conscious and distorted eyes, absolutely.
For many years, I went through vicious cycles of binging, purging, crash dieting, and starving my body. Even though I have finally come to accept and love my body in all of its womanly glory (on most days), I still cringe when I hear someone who is smaller than me call themselves “fat.” On an intellectual level, I understand what they probably mean—they don’t feel healthy or comfortable in their own skin. However, the former eating disorder in me does the comparison act. It’s a dreadful habit that I hope to one day break, but what I would also like to see is people saying what they really mean instead of using such harsh words so lightly.
We already live in such a critical world where women in particular are held to such INSANE standards of beauty. So why are we further contributing to it by using these negative words with such ease? You never know who is listening and how it might affect them—like a young impressionable girl struggling with her own changing body.
Rebekah Sitz is a 30-something trying to fool everyone in Nashville into thinking she’s a real ginger. A self-proclaimed expert dreamer, entertainment junkie, and travel monster, she spends much of her time trying to create worlds with words, snapping photos, thinking about her next meal, and plotting world domination by hugs. You can follow along with her fumbles, follies, and occasional successes via @southerndreamer or her blog in progress.
(Featured image via)