The Woman’s ‘F’ Word: ‘Fat’

June 8, 2013 1:30 pm

I never really thought of one’s weight as that much a feminine issue when I was younger. I was always one of the bouncy kids back in school, though I definitely wasn’t the biggest. But little did we know that the stigma that surrounds a woman and her weight was soon to be thrust upon us and mark us out into our social groups, for what may be the rest of our lives.

Obesity_WomenBeing fat is far more than being a member of the Plastics or the D&D nerds at school. School is where the word first gets bandied around and because people think that being it is funny, that one who has that label is a mere subject of ridicule and therefore, never to be taken seriously.  That means you, more than likely, don’t hang out with the cool kids who, sadly, also tend to be the rich kids.  You make friends with people who don’t judge you based on the fat you’re a little rounder in the middle: either the really nice, usually nerdy kids or, guess what!  Other fat kids.  So even in the classroom and the playground, the margins are set.

Here’s where it gets serious.  Once you’ve grown up with a certain kind of person, you start to attract people similar to them into your life.  You’re used to being around people who you can talk with and who, you hope, aren’t going to be judging you based on your weight and such forth.  This carries over into university and can affect your relationships at work as well.  Essentially, being a fat kid has marked you for life.

So why is this a feminine issue?  Of course, worrying about weight is very much a man’s concern as well, but while women don’t much mind whether a man is muscular, toned, or rather slim, women have this idea in their mind, fed to us by the media, as much as it is reinforced by men’s either painfully honest or just plain What-Do-You-Want-Me-To-Say attitudes towards women’s weight.  ‘I don’t date fat chicks‘ is a phrase I hear, meant jokingly, but all-too-often pretty much a reality for men.  And they don’t have much of an idea, apart from the stereotyping of us all as being slightly ‘neurotic’ when we do worry, just how much it worries us.  No girl wants to be seen as a Fat Chick, because since school, we have been programmed to believe that a girl who is overweight is not going to be popular, probably going to be needy and emotional (possibly based on the high probability she’s been bullied about her weight at some point), under-acheiving – because who can become leader of the free world when you’ve got ten extra pounds??? – and just plain unattractive.  The vicious cycle then continues, because with that being the stigma, other people treat them accordingly.

We don’t seem to have fat female role models at all.  Vanessa Feltz – who isn’t actually all that big – isn’t taken all that seriously.  Honey Boo-Boo’s Mama isn’t watched on TVs and Youtube because she’s a great mother.  People ridicule her.  Why call it ‘My Mad Fat Diary’?  Is that because all there is to this teenager is the fact that she’s big, or is the real source of all her problems, both social and otherwise?  Angelina Jolie, hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful women, could probably fit in my jeans twice.  And Kelly Brook, renowned for her gorgeous curves, is still a good year’s worth of forgotten weekends from even approaching Fat.

The worst part is that the word Fat in itself has become a thing to be dreaded.  You don’t even really need to be it.  All it takes is for someone to suggest it and the venom has taken hold.  Are we fat?  This person thinks we are – are we?  Being fat is terrible, it’s social suicide!  Nobody will look up to me, nobody will respect me in any way, no man will ever want to go out with me!

Gyms make thousands of pounds every year based on this fear.  So do magazines, which promise a new breakthrough in the scheme to getting slim quick or for good.  And if you’re really worried, you can buy into that.  But aren’t we then missing the point?  Unless you’re verging on morbidly obese, there isn’t anything outrageously unhealthy about your love handles and large bottom.  Some men seem to prefer it, even.  I dated one chap for several years who said that I, at size 14 at that time, was the smallest girl he’d been out with.  And this is a hot dude, I mean, like, a super good-looking guy.

melissa-mccarthy-84th-annual-academy-awards-02Caitlin Moran recently said we need to reclaim the word Fat.  We need to embrace it and be proud of it: wear it like armor.  And I agree with her.  Too long has the viciousness of the Fat stakes preoccupied our young women.  Anorexia has claimed too many young lives and young people’s health.  We really need to normalize Fat.

What we need is a few more Melissa McCarthy-styled actresses.  A few more Adele-sized singers.  A few models to go the way of the old Sophie Dahl and Nicole Richie.  For J. K. Rowling to look slightly more like Jodi Picoult, or bigger even!  Because being Fat is okay.  It doesn’t mean you’re a social leper, or only good to be laughed at, or emotionally unsound, or incapable of wit, humour, sex appeal or charm.  It doesn’t mean anything.  It just is what it is.

Fat.  Like skinny.  Only not.  It’s not a big deal.

And chaps, with this post, I hope I haven’t offended you.  I know you worry about Fat too.  But seriously.  We women can be vicious when it comes to judging – that was my main point.

 

Yours sincerely, a Definitely Sometimes Fat Chick

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