Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Fat" is off the list

195.5 pounds
I've talked a good deal about how much it bothers me when celebrities are criticized for their weight and how much it hurts our collective psyche, and in my last post, I mentioned the New York Post's infuriating "Fat Celebrities Gallery," which got me thinking about the word "fat." 

Technically, "fat" is "adipose tissue," but that's not when we think of or mean when we use the word. Sometimes we mean "plump" or "overweight," but usually we mean something much, much worse. When most people call themselves or someone else fat, they mean it as a true insult. In fact, we all know that calling someone "fat" in our society is equivalent to calling them a pig or a slob, a whale or a cow, a blubberbutt or a butterball, a lard ass. No matter how you choose to translate it, it's not pretty and it's juvenile (a fact best demonstrated by Judy Blume's moving novel Blubber, in which fifth graders ostracize one girl who they deem "fat"). 

You may think you're being brutally honest with yourself when you describe yourself as fat, but in truth, whether you're conscious of it or not, you're reinforcing the notion that you see yourself as horribly unattractive. (I know this better than anyone because I used to do it too.)

Because of this, because "fat" no longer represents its scientific definition but rather something much more malevolent, I propose that we stop using the word altogether. Excise it from our lives. Get rid of it forever. Because what good is it to keep using—or allowing others to use—a word that has only negative connotations, a word that only hurts people's feelings?

So as of this moment, the word "fat" is off the list. It's yesterday's news. I don't use it anymore, and hopefully neither do you. 

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