I have declared a war on “fat”. Note the quotation marks.
I am not waging a war against fat as a food ingredient, nor am I aggressively trying to lose weight. I am no longer using the word to describe myself, or others. It has become too politically charged a subject, usually with a negative connotation. This descriptor, innocently becoming the host of society’s virulent judgment of others based on generalized perceptions of what is healthy, and beautiful.
There’s been a lot of noise generated by the expose regarding the heavy-handed use of editing applications to alter models found on the covers of magazines. At first there was a certain flippant lightness to the conversation, like discussing something you OUGHT to have known. Then something happened somewhere along the line and more serious discussions started; which argued that such digital manipulation had a negative effect on those who read the magazines. Certain things, from a marginal lowering of self-esteem, to actual reported cases of children developing eating disorders, starving themselves to the brink of death because they thought they were too fat.
What struck me the most, was that when asked about how they looked, these people say, eight times out of 10, that they still thought: I am fat. Fat. Like it was a disease. I know. The world has been busy promoting a healthier way of life through a myriad of anti-obesity campaigns, with the premise that “Obesity is an epidemic.”
Well, if you used the same word as you would a plague, no wonder people would start viewing being fat as an actual disease you can catch off someone like a cold. Words have their power, and the relationships between totally unrelated things are greatly influenced by it. The health risks involved when a person reaches a certain weight are very real, and must not be taken lightly: but in the same breath, these must not serve as justifications for scorn and ridicule, which has nothing to do with genuinely wishing someone would lose weight, but is more indicative of a desire to feel superior. Ask any person, fat or thin, how enjoyable it is to be told that they should improve themselves with an implicit subtext of condescension? THAT is what Fat-shaming is. No one should be made to feel as if they should apologize for being fat.
I joined a big health club recently. Not to turn into Channing Tatum (Ew…) but for a little more definition (Okay fine, a hella LOT of definition). I sit with a trainer who has taken my measurements and all the esoteric shit like BMI, visceral fat, etc. And he was seriously shoveling an INSANE amount of marketing regarding the virtues of being thin. I stop him in mid-pitch and tell him point blank that I didn’t want to lose any weight. Not. A. Single. Pound. If I lost any significant amount of weight, I tell him, I’ll cancel my membership.
His reaction is priceless. He looks at me helplessly: It just didn’t register. I don’t know if I was the first person he met who didn’t want to be thin, or it was the preposterousness of joining a gym to NOT lose weight, that floored him. He stammers out the rest of his spiel, frankly, not knowing what to say next, and quickly hustles me on the treadmill. He now lives in fear that he’d get fired.
The ironic thing is: the LGBT should be at the forefront of this fight: after years of being made to feel broken, incomplete, or abnormal, we have entered the age where one does not need to apologize for being gay. People will inevitably argue that sexual orientation and weight are different things; that’s true, BUT your reaction as a person to one or the other shouldn’t be different. It is not a question of health, it is a question of propriety: You are not in a position to define what is beautiful for other people. You are nothing but a spectator to their fabulousness, and you’re free to reject it and walk away. Stylists, trendsetters, designers, and other people in industries meant to make money off the low self-esteem of people are invested in this vicious model where they arrogate upon themselves the task of defining what is beautiful for the rest of the world. I am not buying into that mindset, and neither should you. It perpetuates a new culture of self-loathing that promotes a tragic violence against the self: the hatred of one’s own individuality. But I find my experience with the majority of gay people in this regard to be extremely disappointing. It’s as if years of being judged and pilloried for being gay has somehow led to gays picking on fat people, for sport, in retaliation.
That shouldn’t be the case.
We are free to choose, to define, what it means to be who we are. We need to accept aspects of ourselves, even those deemed by some to be unattractive, because we live in our own skins. The world is not responsible for our own happiness; we are. That’s why I have rejected the word “fat when I describe myself, and all its negative baggage. I choose to define myself the way I live my life: That is, as a celebration of glorious excess. A life lived savoring all experiences, good and bad, and still coming out triumphant. These are the words I use to show the world what my body has been trying to say. My body as a reflection of my life.
I am not “fat”.
I AM WAGYU AWESOMENESS.