Exact Numbers and Levels of Fatness

TW: quote referring to the O-word later in post

I ditched the scale a few years back, meaning I no longer own a scale and, when I go to the doctor, I either refuse to be weighed or stand facing away from the numbers and ask not to be told my weight. There’s nothing the exact number of my weight tells me about my actual health and, in fact, it can detract from care centered on my health. For me, knowing my weight has only ever been associated with diet culture and disordered eating. It’s never been a neutral thing. In the present day of electronic medical records, it’s getting more difficult to avoid seeing weight listed in the chart. That’s why I think I’ll consistently refuse to be weighed from now on.

You may have heard the quote, “Your weight is the least interesting thing about you.” I get the sentiment, but as a fat woman, my identity is shaped partially by my fatness, and I think that matters. Still, I think the sentiment rings true as far as my exact weight is concerned, so you’ll never see me include my exact weight on this site. I won’t be reduced to a number.

Fatphobic society would have us fat folk lean into these definitions as a hierarchy that pits small fats against mid-fats and superfats, but doing so harms everyone, fat or not.

I think this also lends itself to a discussion of the “levels” of fatness. In fat acceptance, levels of fatness serve to distinguish levels of privilege, where small fats have more privilege than mid-fats and mid-fats have more privilege than superfats. The levels of fatness aren’t well-defined, and they aren’t universally agreed upon. I don’t know where or when they originated. Sometimes, people on the higher end of the spectrum self identify as death fats or infinifats.

Roxane Gay in an interview on This American Life describes her own delineations where there are people who are “maybe 20 pounds overweight,” mid-fats are “Lane Bryant fat,” meaning they’re able to shop in plus size brick and mortar stores (what few there are), and then there’s “super morbidly o[-word]” people. Gay admits that this medical term is “dehumanizing” and evidences internalized fatphobia by using the term.

Fatphobic society would have us fat folk lean into these definitions as a hierarchy that pits small fats against mid-fats and superfats, but doing so harms everyone, fat or not. We can defy this hierarchy by prioritizing the voices and lived experience of superfats and by checking the privilege of small fats and mid-fats.

Here are links to various articles on levels of fatness.  I’m not endorsing any of them, simply sharing so that you have easy access to more reading on the topic.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with levels of fatness or ditching the scale.  Feel free to comment or email me at fatpositivecooperative@gmail.com.

 

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