Self-Identifying as Fat, aka Reclaiming the Word Fat

I am fat.

That sentence is enough to make millions of other people cringe, fat people included, because the word “fat” is fraught with meaning for so many of us. The word “fat” has been weaponized as an insult, and we’ve internalized it as a negative.

However, the word “fat” is itself neutral. It’s an adjective, like short or tall. Thus, I, and many others, choose to reclaim the word “fat” as a descriptor. For some it’s entirely neutral, and for others it’s even positive.

Recently, I discussed with a group of other people who self-identify as fat whether we’re comfortable with other people calling us fat. I, personally, am comfortable with this and prefer it to euphemisms. Some others preferred not to be called fat, even though they self identify as such. As one of the articles linked below explains, it’s perhaps best not to label other people in any regard, fat included, unless you have their explicit permission to do so.

I’d also note that fat is a bodily organ. We all “have” fat. There’s a terrible meme out there that says, “You are not fat. You have fat. You also have fingernails, but you are not fingernails.” At first glance, this might seem sensible and perhaps vaguely reassuring, but it’s conflating the noun, fingernails, with the adjective, fat, and it’s the kind of thing not-fat people say to distance themselves from fat people. And, for fat people, it’s a fairly disembodying statement.

Maybe you’ve already reclaimed the word fat for yourself. Maybe you’re not there yet and you don’t want to be. Wherever you are on the journey, here are several links to posts from other people who have reclaimed the word fat.

* If you know of any good articles by men or gender nonconforming folks who have reclaimed the word fat, let me know!

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