If you spend much time on social media, you probably know that when a fat person shares anything that calls for positivity about their body, the responses are as predictable as a Lifetime original movie. Scattered among the awesome responses and healthy dialogue about our individual experiences, there are comments from people who miss the point so entirely, you really have to wonder if they are doing it on purpose.
So, just to clear a few things up for the point-missers, I have compiled the following list of things I am not saying when I say that I am fat:
1. I’m healthy.
Oh. My. God. Stop. When I say I am fat and I’m also happy, I am not even commenting about my health. Why must the Body Police come out, sirens blazing, and declare that it’s unhealthy to be fat? Fat people know it can be unhealthy. Relax. We have doctors. We don’t need your reminders.
2. Other people should join me in being fat.
After the Body Police, the Role Model Squad is never far behind, ready to accuse happy fat people of glamorizing their “condition,” and encouraging other people to neglect their health. Um, what? We aren’t asking anyone else to gain weight simply by acknowledging our own fat, and we won’t pretend we are miserable to make you less uncomfortable.
3. I want to remain fat.
When I say I am fat, I don’t necessarily mean that I want to stay fat. It’s not my duty to outline my medical history, or current weight loss attempts, so you can determine if I have a valid reason to be overweight. I don’t have to make public my personal information so you can judge whether I’ve tried hard enough to fix it. I just don’t owe you that.
4. I can’t help it.
Fat people know. We know it’s possible to lose weight, just like you know that it’s hard — even as you try to oversimplify it with a tired speech about willpower. When I say I am fat, I am not saying I can’t do anything to change it, but I am allowed to celebrate the body I am currently in.
5. Only fat people deal with issues of body image and acceptance.
I face a lot of unkindness due to my body, but I realize this is not an experience unique to fat people. People of all shapes and sizes understand what it means to feel rejected, self-conscious, and unattractive. When I say I am fat, I am not saying thin people don’t feel uncomfortable with their bodies sometimes too.
6. My body is open for negative discussion.
I am not “asking for” harsh criticism by choosing to acknowledge my size. Before you say something about my body that is meant to be hurtful, maybe figure out why it’s so important to you to make sure that I know you don’t like how I look. Your compulsion to insult a perfect stranger really says nothing about me. Shaming people about their body — no matter what it looks like — sucks. Don’t do things that suck.
7. I am ugly.
When I say I am fat, I am not saying I think I am ugly. I don’t always think every part of me is beautiful, but on a good day, I see brown eyes framed by great eyebrows, a lovely Cupid’s bow, a smattering of freckles, strong calves, and cute ankles. You don’t have to reassure me that I’m beautiful. I feel beautiful. I don’t think fat equals ugly — for me or anyone else.
So what am I saying, then? It’s not a riddle, puzzle, or coded message. When I say that I can be happy in this body, even though it’s overweight, it’s just my way of waving my arms and declaring that I’m here. I exist! I’m not even an anomaly. Fat doesn’t have to mean miserable.
And if you feel anything less than perfect, happiness is possible for you too.