The F Word
Updated: Dec 24, 2021
Fat Fat Fat.
What a word.
It is just a word, right? No. It is a word with so many connotations today that some people actually fear it. Some people fear the actual word, some people fear getting ‘fat’ and some have a fully blown, anxiety inducing, hyperventilating fat phobia and actually fear ‘fat’ people (gee, sounds scary, right?).
Wow. When did this happen? How did this happen? How have we let this happen?
Unfortunately, as a society we seem to have lost a reasonable amount of perspective and have become so focused on avoiding ‘fatness’ that we have often lost focus on ‘health’.
All you need to do to see this is to look around. Read the magazines. Login to Instagram. Listen to the conversations in the supermarket lines. Listen to the news, and unfortunately draw the short straw and take a visit to a fat-focused health practitioner.
The truth is, some people do have a greater fatness than others.
Yes, they do actually, there is absolutely no denying this. So, if a young child were to point out and say, ‘that person is fat’, should we disagree? If we try to fumble around and say to the child ‘no they are not’, well, this would not be the truth. The person does have fatness as a part of their body shape. Should we shhhh the child? Should we ignore the comment?
My personal opinion is that it is not the observation that the child has made that causes issues here. It is the feeling that we have behind this ‘F’ word and its’ meaning, the uncomfortable situation set up by society to make us think that it is automatically negative if a child should observe this all brought on by how this word is used (or misused), and what we have learnt it to mean. If the child had said this in a discriminatory tone, then, yes, I think there’s a problem here (and let’s be honest, children learn what they see). But a pure observation? Why is this so uncomfortable as a parent?
Some people also have blonde hair. Some people have short legs. Some have brown colour skin. Others have freckles. Gee some even have one finger missing. Fancy that, we are all different. It doesn’t mean that we are healthy or unhealthy if we have any of these features. Just as, in my opinion (and many others who follow a Health at Every Size or HAES approach) someone’s ‘fatness’ does not equate to their ‘health’. Because someone is fatter than someone else, this does not automatically mean that they are less healthy.
We don’t persecute people with freckles, do we?
“Oh, they have freckles, they are not included in this activity”, or, “because they have freckles, we will tell them that the only way to fix all of their health issues is to lose their freckles”, maybe “they definitely eat this food because they have freckles, we must make a TV show and torture freckled people, let’s make them vomit and cry! as they neeeeed help” Why is it ok for society to have set up such persecution for ‘fat’ people?
Fat discrimination is a real thing. As is ‘skinny privilege’. This has been well documented by various HAES approach practitioners (including Lindo Bacon and Fiona Willer).
In writing this, I’d like to get you thinking today about what you tell yourself when you see someone with a ‘fatness’ in body shape, and all the possible assumptions you might make about this person. What do you assume? Or maybe how do you speak to yourself as a person who may have ‘fatness’? What does this mean to you? How does this affect you?
Now, get those thoughts (the judgy, depressing, harmful ones) and throw them in the bin.
There is absolutely no advantage to this way of thinking and no room for fat discrimination in your own quest for a healthier lifestyle. Everyone has their own story, their own battles, their own personality and their own body shape and size. Health can be achieved at any of such shape and size (with or without freckles). The change starts with YOU.
And the alternative? Well, basic human (self) kindness and basic human (self) empathy and (self) compassion really.
Adopting an approach to health which is behavior focused, habit focused, mindset focused, and self-nourishment focused (rather than ‘fat’ focused) is what we suggest to then complement your newfound kindness, empathy and compassion. You will be enlightened when you understand that managing health is like putting together a puzzle full of pieces which all fit together and impact each other. You will understand that body shape and size is not a true indicator of health, but instead each puzzle piece of yours (aka each habit and each behavior) is.
When you can challenge your own inner barriers, your own fixed mindsets and your own labels and opinions on the idea of ‘fatness’ in yourself and in society, you will then see a shift that not only is great for you and your own health, but also for the health of society as a whole (and how good is that!).