By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS
When I said this to my sister a few years ago she practically fell over herself trying to tell me I wasn’t. She insisted I was just a big boned guy and very handsome.
I never said I wasn’t handsome. I just said I was fat.
Here’s the thing, the word “fat” is nothing more than a description of a physical state. I have a significant amount of adipose tissue under my skin, and it comes in bunches around by pectoral muscles, abdomen, hips, upper back, latissimus dorsi, and chin.
I’m also: white, freckled, balding, brown-eyed, large ear lobed, broad chested, salt-and-pepper body haired, wide-nosed, fuzzy-faced, and thin lipped.
Some folks clearly believe each and every one of these descriptions are “awful” or “ugly.” But most of us just shrug our shoulders and say, “so what?”
That’s how I feel about “fat.”
Our society has grown to loathe, fear, and shame fatness. I did too for the longest time. It drove me to a 20-year battled with poor body image, eating disorders, social anxiety, depression, self-harm, substance abuse, and self-doubt. I learned to hate my body from my parents and my siblings who learned to hate their bodies from their parents and siblings. Add it up and my family has pretty much hated their bodies for over 100 years at minimum. That’s insane.
First things first – let your words mean only what the dictionary says. Examples:
- Tall: (of a person) of great or more than average height
- Short: (of a person) small, or smaller than average in height
- Fat: (of a person) having more flesh on the body than is typical
- Thin: (of a person) having little flesh or fat on their body
Notice how nothing here qualifies if this is good or bad, ugly or beautiful? When I think about the value of a person, I think about how they will be eulogized when they’re gone. The last time I heard one, people talked about the dearly departed’s laughter, intelligence, empathy, dedication to others, and the like. Think about the most important people in your life and really dig in to why they mean so much to you. It’s those areas you want to cultivate in your own life.
In the meantime, you can allow your body to be whatever size, shape, color, and texture it naturally is. In the end, it’s all just a description. It’s not who you are. I’m fat, and it’s no judgment.