Being a fat girl is hard. Notice how I didn't write 'plus-sized' or 'chubby.' I said fat. I started describing myself as fat about a year ago and I am constantly met with comments such as, "No, you're not fat" or "Don't say that about yourself," and it always makes me think. Why is fat such a bad word? It's an adjective; it holds the same meaning as describing my hair a brown or saying someone has a diamond shape face. So if I were to describe myself, I'd use the word fat.
The negative connotation behind the word fat is relatively new. For centuries, fat people have been seen as desirable. Being fat meant you were full of abundance, you had wealth for food and lived a lavish life. This all changed in the 1950s. After the second world war, the United States entered an economic boom, consumerism was thriving, and selling beauty products that emphasized the need for being thin became the new standard. Women started going on diets and taking part in different weight loss programs which are still implemented today. It was around this time when fast food places became popular, selling unhealthy but convenient food at a low price.
I was in third grade the first time I was told to lose weight. At only eight years old, I developed a mindset of self-hatred. My friends were size mediums, while I was large. I bought pants at a size 8, and that continued to go up to 10, then 12, 14, 16, and now I am on the verge of being an 18. When I was in fifth grade, my first crush told me that no boy would ever have a crush on me because of my weight. At 12 years old, I was kicked out of a Brandy Melville because I "shouldn't even bother looking for anything" even though I was only looking at their jewelry. That same year one of my classmates yelled at me for not winning a P.E. basketball game because "fatties can never do anything right." I ran to the bathroom and called my mom to pick me up from school, and that was when I decided that I would never be happy until I lost weight.
My parents and I bought a gym membership at a place called The Camp, which is known for its program of losing 20 pounds in only 6 weeks. While my parents did the program, which included a meal plan I just joined them every weekday for an hour. We would do 45-minute long circuit training with a trainer who would provide nonstop motivation. What I loved about this was I was surrounded by other fat people who all had the same goal. We were able to be vulnerable. I felt safe. I lost some weight during this time, not enough to bring me down a size but enough to receive compliments from others. After about a year, we canceled the membership due to financial issues, and I bought a membership for InShape.
I was terrified. I had seen pictures on social media of people using fat people as jokes, or worse, sources of motivation. It took me a year to build up the confidence to walk in the gym past the same kind of people who had made fun of me before. I avoided doing any real cardio so I wouldn't be made fun of for heavy breathing, or my stomach jiggling. I only went to InShape about five times before I canceled my membership and gave up on losing weight completely.
It's important for me to talk about my weight loss journey because every fat person has one. We grow up in a society that tells us we are only beautiful if we are thin. Strangers take pictures of us without permission and talk about us like we aren't human. Fat people are seen as unintelligent, lazy, or unworthy of love. We are the sources of comedic relief in entertainment -- our bodies are props. When fat people say they love their bodies, we are told that we are brave and strong. We are expected to be repulsed by ourselves, and to spend every waking moment of our lives longing for the day we become skinny. I have heard multiple stories from fat people who have lost weight, comparing the differences between how they were treated when they were fat and how they were treated after losing weight and it terrifies me.
I want you to take into account your own anti-fat bias. We all have it, including me. When you make comments such as "I ate too much today" or "I feel fat," not only does that affect your self-esteem, but those who hear you. We must work to take out fatphobia from our lives because fat people should not have to work on ourselves to be valued in society. We are not worthless because we have more on us. Next time I call myself fat, please hold yourself back from telling me I am not. Because I know I am, and I comfortable with it.