We all have a certain memory of an insult or conversation that has stuck with us for years after it happened. For me, this memory was in 5th grade when I was told by a classmate that I looked pregnant in the shirt I was wearing. I think a lot of people have this same memory of the first time their body was judged harshly for simply being the size it is. But there is a larger issue at hand than a moment from childhood; it’s the idea that larger bodies are inherently bad or ugly, and it has been ingrained in us all from a young age.
This fear of taking up space, both literally and metaphorically, is deeply rooted. As a woman, I was taught that if I don’t shrink myself in social situations or lower my voice, someone else would gladly do it for me. So as our bodies grew, we bought into this idea that we had to be small in every way. We shrunk ourselves, we stopped speaking up. We forced ourselves into pants that don’t fit because we had become terrified of the number on our jeans. Fat becomes a threat when you are young and insecure.
This word sparks fear in so many people, and its power is only strengthened with each new fad diet, fashion trend and New Year’s Eve resolution. But let’s break this word down. Fat, by definition, serves as a source of energy that also cushions and insulates vital organs. It is something that everybody has. You are alive because you have fat that protects you, and no, you cannot erase it with expensive procedures.
So why do we spend so much money, time and energy on something we don’t need to change? There are so many things we can blame for this fatphobic rhetoric we continue to teach younger generations. But essentially, you have the ability to define this word for yourself. Fat is not a feeling or a state of being, it is a part of every living person, and that’s nothing to ever be ashamed of. If you take anything away from this article, I want you to know that the size of your jeans does not determine your worth. Now go throw on your favorite outfit, and take up as much space as you want.