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Separating fat from fiction (what we mean when we say "I feel fat")

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Fat is not a feeling. Yet how often do you hear people say they "feel fat"? We often associate fat with negative emotions like lethargy, laziness, and discomfort, and this tells us more about society's attitudes towards people with larger bodies than it does about our own bodies and their size.

What this stuff can show us is where these judgments have got under our skin and become a habitual way we berate ourselves. Because you cannot criticise your size without adding to the overall stigma. You are platforming it.

When we say, “I feel fat”, quite often, what we mean is that we feel bloated or uncomfortable or sleepy or tired or like our bodies should move or guilt.

Let's just have a little pause and reflect on what you really mean when you say, “I feel fat”. What do you mean when you say it?

Because none of the things I have just listed are nice. They're not anywhere near neutral. And when we list them out like this, we can get a pretty good view of where we have internalised fatphobia and what we think of people in larger bodies. Even if we are one of “those people”.

You've probably listed quite a few characteristics you would like not to have, if you were given the choice. And this is a problem. Because we often think that people being fat is a choice. We think fat people have not put the effort into exercising enough. Or do not have enough willpower to just stay on a diet. Or do not take good enough care of themselves. Of ourselves.

Which completely ignores the fact that diets don't work long term or that genetics, societal, socioeconomical and health factors all play a role in people's size, and completely ignores that we're not all meant to look the same. Imagine how weird it would be if everyone was exactly the same height. The fact that we ostracise people in fat bodies for not fitting into a very narrow mould, quite literally, defies evolution.

So, if you consider yourself to be the kind of person who wants to create a fairer and more just world for all people, this is going to have to include the way you speak to yourself. And the the way you speak to yourself in the mirror. Because this directly impacts how you think about other people.

And you're probably going to have to shove along a bit and make some room for us fatties.


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