“Wow, your cat is so fat!” I exclaimed to my friend when I saw the sheer size of her cat. Her reply was “Don’t say that!” in a tone that expressed sadness and a tiny bit of admonishment. I immediately knew what she meant and what she was getting at though. My reply was “fat doesn’t mean ugly.” This is a fact that I’ve known and embraced for a very long time, but the majority of society uses fat to refer to someone as off-putting, lazy, ugly and undesirable. I’ve been told that I am pretty, but I’d be prettier if I lost a few pounds. I’ve also heard men say that a woman is very nice, but they couldn’t be seen with them, because of their fatness. As a society, we hear stories from people who are fat shamed and from those who fat shame them, and it’s an ugly thing to witness. When did an adjective used to describe physical appearance become associated with ugliness and why are people so obsessed with highlighting someone’s weight?
The way to successfully navigate through your day is to be comfortable in your skin, or at the very least, be honest about the skin you’re in. The quickest way to self-destruct is to allow someone’s opinion of you to hold more weight than your opinion of yourself. Fatness is a state of being, and weight can be lost if so desired. I do not understand how someone’s size has become a topic of public conversation, and a target for bullying and harassment. Kindergarten through adulthood, we witness very public displays of shaming for being fat. Cruel, intentionally hurtful words and taunts have been known to be a part of daily life for someone who is fat. When did this become a thing?
I often hear people defend their cruelty by saying they just want fat people to be healthy. Really? You care about this stranger’s health so much, that you shame them because of the body they have right now? I don’t see a public shaming of alcoholics, drug addicts and others who may be suffering from addiction. The shaming of addicts is insensitive, unkind and they are battling a disease that sometimes kicks their asses, so we have empathy and compassion for their plight. Yet, many fat people have a food addiction, depression, low self-esteem, and their demons are displayed through their bodies. They cannot hide their addictions, and it wears on their bodies for all to see. They are hyper-aware of their issues, yet far too many insist on offering an unsolicited opinion.
Addictions are ugly. The people who have them are not. Being fat is a result of too much food, thyroid issues, or anything else that can cause weight gain. It’s far too much of one thing, and not enough calories being burned to balance out what is going inside. Fat people are aware of this for the most part, and no one has to highlight that for them. Telling a fat person they should really just stop eating so much, is equivalent to telling an alcoholic they should stop drinking so much, or telling a drug addict they should stop doing drugs. Ah, duh, they know, but telling them probably drives them towards their vice even more. Everyone has to arrive at the point of transformation on their own terms. Every single person has an issue they are battling, and it’s their willingness to transform their minds, is what will result in a victory.
Being fat does not mean you are ugly. Being fat means you are fat. Being tall means you’re tall. Being brown means you are brown. Society has associations with people’s bodies and that is an unfortunate fact. However, we as individuals have the power and the right to honor what our factual adjectives mean about ourselves. We have the bodies that we are in right now, and nothing will change overnight. Parts of you are here to stay, and we have to become comfortable with that, or we can change what we can. Ugliness starts on the inside. It is the belief that parts of you are so unlovable, unworthy and undesirable, you display those things outwardly. You seek out ways to harm others with words and deeds you usually reserve for yourself when no one is looking. The harshest words and unkindness you tell others, are nothing compared to what you say to yourself. I understand. To be ugly is to reject the parts of you that make you a relatable human being. Fatness is not ugliness. A willingness to shame someone for being who they are is the ugliest and most present sign of self-loathing.