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Day 346 - The F Word

Monday, December 12, 2011

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.

Ah well.

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!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I was thinking of writing a very similar musing about the word 'fat' but don't need to because you have done an amazing job. I am trying to find a way to express my reaction to the idea that someone might consider me an 'elephant in the living room' or think that they should look at me with disgust or loathing. And unfortunately, I think there have been times when this is how I have been viewed.

    I am offended at the thought that others might think that they can sit in judgement of me because of my weight. I wish to be judged by my actions in the world: how I treat others, how I contribute to my community and what I do for the betterment of the world.

    Separate from the judgement of others, I want to be healthy. I want to live a long time with full mobility, good eyesight, strong muscles and little or no medication. And yes, I want to be able to wear beautiful clothes. emoticon
    3369 days ago
    It is alarming to see that the media have trained us to praise slender and not other body styles. If you look at other cultures, different body styles and weights are praised. I think you quit when it was time to quit for you and I congratulate you for quitting. You lost weight when it became that important to you. That's the most important. You did it for you!
    3371 days ago
    Me again ! Your blog was so thought provoking, I needed to reply twice. LOL !!

    You know, there are industries that make BILLIONS off a woman's insecurities with their looks. The diet, fashion and cosmetic industrial machines are the biggest, but the dental machine is gaining ground. How many commercials do we now see for teeth whiteners ? dental cosmetic surgery ? etc... Heaven forbid that you don't have t pearly white smile.

    Yes, we are bombarded with images of super slim women who are seemingly happier than their overweight best friends. Well, once again, that's an illusion created by the industry to sell products. it's a scam !

    Depression hits slim women at the same rate as obese ones. There are plenty of upbeat optimistic heavy people too. Good health comes in many different shapes and sizes.

    So, final thought... here are some good words associated with having a little extra "flesh".


    and the current one... bootilicious !

    3371 days ago
    3371 days ago
    Awesome blog Kasey...thankyou....
    Will look to see if I can find the article sometime....
    It wiuld be really great to read.....maybe putting in "the 'F'word on line would find it ????just a thought from someone whose not all that computer literate.....lol
    3371 days ago
    Very thought-provoking blog, Kasey. It was a real eye-opener to me when I realized it was not the weight that makes me happy, but the actions that support a healthy weight that do.

    Being well-fed (not over, nor under) / nourished, being active, having a meaningful sense of purpose... that is what makes life content. There are still sorrows, there are still joys. But FAT or THIN is not in and of itself the source of how I feel about living any more. It was a self-deception to think life would be perfect without the "bad" number on the scale.

    It's also a self-deception to believe that life is perfect without a healthy number on the scale. For me, anyway.
    3372 days ago
    Interesting blog....I think comments from others are more damaging than what our own image reflects.

    I'm losing weight at a slower pace and others feel that I'm not trying because I haven't reached my goal yet. We have to be comfortable with our own pace and to heck with what others think!!!
    3372 days ago
    Being fat is always awful!!!--It feels terrible--People look down on obese people--They think they cannot control their life habits--Bad fat people--Where, slim people appear to have it all together! I don't believe fat people are happy--They won't be for sure when their body ages and they can't move around like other people and health risks develop --Anyway, another interesting blog Kasey---Ive been on here but busy with this new puppy----Things atre looking up a bit now---- No snow here YET!!! Very unusual! --Lynda in the near North--- emoticon
    3372 days ago
    Great blog! A lot of things to think about.
    3372 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10913570
    well said
    3372 days ago
    I've always loved this Homer Simpson quote when referring to his excess weight,"Why must I be so voluptuous ?" LOL !!!

    You know, there was a time when women were expected to have some meat on their bones. They were expected to look like adult women, not adolescent boys with boobs. This wasn't even in the day when women who were fleshy were called Rubenesque. Even in the 50s, 60s and 70s, it wasn't fashionable to have a figure like Olive Oil. Today, that's all we see walking down fashion runways.

    I tell ya, it's tough being a woman these days. You can't win.

    3372 days ago
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