The Nation's Favourite F Word
"Call a girl 'fat' once, and she'll never forget it." Tell me, in your lifetime, have you ever known 'fat' to mean something positive? I mean, there was a brief moment in R&B culture circa the early noughties when, if spelled with a 'ph', phat meant cool. Other than that? We generally use it to describe anything we deem substandard.
I grew up constantly believing that I was too fat. It was a ritual for girls my age. A way of life. No one ever questioned it, we just proceeded with our lives feeling like we would never be good enough. When I was at least four stone lighter than I am now, I spent my evenings on and off the scales counting every calorie and lb. I've been on some sort of diet since I was 13. A long while before I could even make decisions for myself and far prior to my body being developed enough to accept such drastic changes. In a poll raised by the Health and Social Care Information Centre in 2015, 46.2% of 15-year-old girls thought of themselves as overweight. And at my current age of 22, it's difficult to think of any of my friends who haven't complained about their weight at some point.
Do you want your children and the future generations growing up believing they're inadequate? A difficult concept to come to terms with, admittedly. As a nation, we are often so focused on childhood obesity and the issues that are glaringly blatant rather than those perhaps more disguised. A healthy young woman believing she is too large, for example. It is, perhaps, this lack of attention that breeds such a high percentage of eating disorders in young girls. Let alone this being scientifically proven to increase the chances of developing obesity in later life.
Why should fat equal ugly? I'm fat. In physicality, I am completely different to many of my friends and family. I feel no shame in using such a word to describe myself, because it's just that. A description and not a definition. My body type, weight or physical appearance doesn't determine who I am.
I'm not stupid. I understand the principle of health. I am well aware that being overweight can cause issues and complication with well-being. But lest we forget, poor health is not necessarily synonymous with ugliness. It would take a special kind of douche-bag to tell someone of poor health, for example a cancer patient, that they were ugly as a result of their condition. And that's what being overweight is – a condition. Fuck off Katie Hopkins and anyone else that claims excess weight is a choice. Subconsciously, perhaps, but once you are lumbered with extra weight and a label for life; it's a lot easier said than done to lose them. Let's talk about said 'healthy lifestyle' people tend to harp on about, following the mention of the F word. I'm yet to see the anti-weight wankers attack smokers, drug users, alcoholics, workaholics and those indulging in unprotected sex about their lifestyle choices and the detrimental effect that it may or may not have on their long term health.
Quite often, people are born with an obesity gene. Imagine battling with that your whole life - fighting something that feels natural to you and makes you happy just to avoid abuse and ridicule. Other people, much like myself, use food or excessive consumption of anything, as a coping mechanism or outlet for stress, depression etc. Some people carry extra weight because they have recently given birth and some as the result of a side effect of prescribed medication or contraception. And who cares? Nobody owes you a reason for the way they look. That is something that no human should ever have to excuse.
How can our society preach so much about self love and body confidence, and at the same time scrutinize and verbally bully such an enormous percentage of our population? I'll tell you why. People fat shame for the pure personal satisfaction of not being fat. The fact that individuals are all so completely original is the pure definition of beauty, so give up on trying to alter anyone to your or society's ideals.
Television shows like The Biggest Loser and glossy magazines showing bikini-clad celebrities boasting cellulite and a couple of kilos that might not have been present a month prior promote the ideal that 'fat' is bad. Remember the social uproar when Protein World unveiled their latest body-shaming ad featuring a very toned, slim, young woman in swimwear and the caption "Are YOU bikini body ready" because the world would likely stop should we all don a bikini, step on the beach and announce ourselves 'bikini body ready'. Your worth is not measured by the size of your waist.
As a community and population, it’s well overdue that we take a step back, a long, hard look in the mirror and give up on scrutinizing literally ANYONE else to make ourselves feel better. Self Love means accepting yourself and loving the skin that you're in - regardless if that's a size 6 or 16. YOUR response to the amount of space MY body inhabits, defines YOU and not ME.