fat: overweight, gross, stout, obese, fleshy, beefy, corpulent, rotund, flabby.
slender: slim, slight, lean, svelte, willowy, sylphlike, lithe, spare, thin.
That's what I found in an online thesaurus.
Are there any 'pretty' words for 'fat'? Perhaps 'plump' or even 'chubby' aren't too bad. Any 'ugly' words for 'slender'? Well, maybe 'angular' or 'gaunt' or 'scrawny.' I suppose 'skinny' could go either way.
But as a rule, the first thought upon hearing 'fat' is 'unattractive' and the first thought upon hearing 'slender' is 'lovely.' Or at least those are the word associations that occur to me. I guess I've been thoroughly indoctrinated with societal standards.
I was sitting in the GP's office last week (scheduled BP check; same as it has been, more or less controlled with the medication) and while I was waiting I flipped thru one of the magazines.
They have a wide-ranging selection, but I always - true confession time here - home in on the gossip rags. I know, I know. I wouldn't buy the things, but when they're available for free, why, I just sort of have to poke around, y'know?
OK and Hello! are probably the biggies; there are others (Woman's World, Marie-Claire, among them) but these two are more apt to dish the dirt on celebrities, sort of like a slightly downscale People. But I digress.
Back to fat:
As I was leafing thru one of the magazines, the headline 'The F Word' caught my eye. There's been quite a bit of media chatter lately about the decline of language and the increase in the routine use of obscenities, and I thought this would be an essay in that direction.
Not so. The author (and I wish I'd thought to make a note of which magazine, what date, or even the author's name; alas, they called me before I had a chance to finish reading it) was writing about 'fat,' not just the word itself, but several notions revolving around it.
She wrote of the negative emotions so often tied to overeating. She talked about self-esteem, self-image, and about so many people who say things like 'I'm fat but I'm not depressed or angry - I'm happy' or 'I have a BMI well over 30, but I don't have any health problems.'
The author then went on to say something like she didn't believe these statements could be true, that people who are genuinely 'fat' (and she specified she wasn't talking about a little overweight, but rather 'morbidly obese') are kidding themselves if they say things such as 'I'm fat but healthy' or 'I'm happy with being fat.'
One line of thought she followed had to do with the judgment of others: people will see an alcoholic passed out and walk by with looks of disgust, or see someone who's strung out on drugs, trying to panhandle, and look at them with loathing. We grimace and complain about the stench when we have to cross through a 'smoking area' outside a restaurant.
And yet (she wrote) we pretend not to notice fat people gorging themselves in restaurants (!), and we don't comment on the calorie-laden goodies they buy at the supermarket - 'we hold conversations with friends and family who are fat and totally disregard the subject, literally ignoring the elephant in the room, as if everything's normal.'
I didn't get angry, and I didn't start feeling depressed (and both reactions are very much the kind of thing I have done sometimes); I didn't start berating myself with 'She's talking about ME. She looks down on ME, and people like me.' And I didn't wax indignant along the 'How dare she! Who does she think she is to judge ME?' line of thought.
But what she wrote certainly provoked thought somewhere, as I haven't let go of this and it's been several days now.
The other day I came across the following article on the 'net:
The author's done something rather intriguing here, turning the word 'fat' into an acronym for 'Fabulous Attractive Talented,' as in 'FAT Woman.'
Do we allow the negative meanings of 'fat' to color the way we think about ourselves? Does it become, in essence, another reason to beat ourselves up, belittle ourselves, to give in to hopelessness and despair? Do the bad connotations make us deny that we can change at all?
On the other hand, does adopting acronyms such as FAT or telling ourselves we're 'BBWs' keep us from confronting the reasons we became fat, and stay fat? Does it blind us to the irrefutable fact that eventually, to a greater or lesser degree, obesity will compromise our health, and perhaps our longevity?
I used to be a smoker. I mean, fairly heavy-duty. It wasn't unusual for me to go through two packs in a day, and still not be 'done' with the last cigarette before bedtime.
I said - with no small chip on my shoulder - 'I like the taste of cigarettes' and 'I'm not addicted to nicotine; I enjoy smoking' and 'Tobacco doesn't cause cancer - it's the additives the manufacturers put in that's the problem.'
Fool that I am.
What finally got me to quit was the money. I couldn't see setting fire to $35 / week (it's been a while, o'course; Lord only knows what they cost these days) when I was struggling to pay the utility bills.
What finally motivated me to diet and try to achieve - even at this late date - some semblance of health was the ever-increasing medications. The drugs weren't curing anything. They weren't solving the problems or making me better. They were putting my health disorders into a holding pattern, keeping the worst complications at bay - for the time being.
I'm not saying my self-esteem wasn't suffering, or that I wouldn't have liked to feel happier with my appearance, or even that I didn't want to walk into any store and choose something stylish to wear.
But just as it was the money - not the threat of cancer or heart disease - that motivated me to quit smoking, so it was health - not ego or vanity - that prompted me to lose weight.
It really disturbs me, though, to think that someone somewhere may have been viewing me with contempt, simply because I was fat. And I'm not, as a rule, someone who cares unduly what others think.
That's it from me. A kaleidoscope of thoughts... Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!