Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Deconstructing the F-Word

I've already gotten some feedback to this new blog of mine and I love it.  I love that people can relate and the encouragement to keep going has been fantastic.  I also had a suggestion from someone who liked the blog.  She thought that perhaps I should not call myself fat because it may be a turn-off to those that were heavier than me.

I totally understood where she was coming from.  It's hard to listen to someone thinner than yourself complain about their weight.  When someone that is a size 4 complains about the 10 lbs she's gained it takes all the effort I can muster not to throw something at her.  In a loving way of course.  Keep in mind that I trained and supported people smaller than me at the gym for almost 4 years.  That's a lot of stuff not thrown.  But body issues are body issues no matter the person's size.  I totally get it.

But today I'm going to tell you why I will continue to use the word 'fat' in this blog.  And if you are easily offended this is probably not the blog to follow anyway. I can't for the life of me figure out how to make this funny today.  We will return to our regular programming next time but today I'm getting real.

First and foremost, I will use the word fat because, frankly, I've more than earned the right to.  I've been morbidly obese.  Hell, according to BMI (which is total bullshit on any planet), I'm still in the obese category. Most of my adult life has been in that category.  I'm not as fat as I was at my heaviest, but I'm definitely fatter than I was at my lightest. I am, and always will be, a card carrying member and no one can take that away.

The first time I lost weight I was part of an online community, mostly women, who all needed to lose over 100 lbs. I met some fantastic, beautiful people there - many who are still in my life today thanks to Facebook.  We affectionately called each other fatties.  It was the fatty board.  Occasionally a newbie would show up and announce that the term was offensive and boy did she get a verbal beat down.  You don't get to be 100 lbs overweight by not having something we called 'fatty brain'. We don't think like skinny people.  Food is first and foremost in most of our daily thoughts. We reward ourselves with food when we've had a spectacular day.  We comfort ourselves with food when it's been total shit. We think about what we'll eat when we wake up and we get nervous when we don't think there will be enough. This issue with food and weight creeps into every aspect of our lives.  It's who we are.  And just because I'm no longer 100 lbs overweight doesn't mean it's still not there.  It's like an alcoholic who is celebrating sobriety - are they no longer an alcoholic just because they aren't drinking?  I will always be susceptible to self-medicating with food and it's a reality that I can't ignore.

Second, I'm trying not to give that much power to the word fat. It's not offensive. It's just matter of fact. A good portion of the fat we carry on our bodies is essential. The rest is extra, but it's not evil.  It's actually a product of a very well designed biological process.  Our bodies are doing what they are supposed to be doing with the lifestyles we are giving it.  We just aren't living the right lifestyle.

I struggle daily with not tying my weight to my self worth but that is not the fault of the word 'fat'. My weight is not who I am. Unfortunately my feelings about my weight do affect me, though.  On what I call my "ugly days" where I hate everything about myself - those are the days I need to be very careful with the word.  But when I'm thinking clearly and logically the word has no emotional impact on me other than to sum up my current situation.

And finally, for a person larger than myself to be upset that I called myself fat one would have to assume they didn't already know they themselves were fat.  I'm calling bullshit on this one. She knows she's fat from the moment she wakes up each day to the moment she goes to sleep.  She knows it when she struggles to buckle her seat belt when she can't actually see the buckle. She knows it when she has bruises on her hips from the arm rests on movie theater chairs.  She remembers it when she goes to bend over or squat down and the inseam of her jeans rips open from stretching too far. She's painfully aware of it when her legs have friction burns from her thighs rubbing together under a skirt. She feels every bit of it when she has to ask a flight attendant for a seat extender in front of a whole fucking plane of people or when she's terrified to sit in someone's lawn chair because she knows she's going to break another one.  She knows it when she leaves an appointment where her doctor said it was probably time to consider gastric bi-pass and the kid in the elevator asks her why her bones are so big. Or when she's asked to get off a kiddie roller coaster in front of a huge line of people because the safety bar that would protect her youngest son won't lower far enough to latch.  And she has to beg and plead with the roller coaster operator while trying not to cry in front of all those people to please, just please make an exception and let her two boys ride without her.  Just one time. Please. 

If she gets upset because I've called myself fat it has more to do with the fact that she's not ready to face her own issues with weight yet.  And it probably means she's not going to like this blog, either.  And that's ok, too.  I'm not for everyone.

Do you want to know when that fat word doesn't work?  When you use it on someone else.  Never in the history of forever has calling someone else fat ever helped them.  No amount of calling your spouse fat will encourage them to lose weight.  Never has a mother telling her daughter that she'll never find a man to love her because of her weight ever given her that light bulb moment. It's not an intervention. The f-word is hers to own, not yours to give.

I don't believe in punishing myself.  I don't believe in negative reinforcement - like putting pictures of cows and pigs on the fridge to deter myself from eating.  I detest fat jokes and I'll call you out every time if I hear you make one about someone else.  But I know I'm fatter than I want to be and I know if I ignore it my fatty brain will put me right back where I was.  And I'm not going back.


  1. Best sentence ever in the history of sentences: "The f word is hers to own, not yours to give."

    I love you. Now, always, and forever.

  2. Your blog explains why I'm fine with calling myowndamnself fat but not handling quite so well *cough* hearing it from someone else. If "not so well" means heartbroken, humuliated and ashamed, that is. Well done, Cassidy. Well done.

  3. Nicely written. It's so sad that I remember all of the critical/negative comments people have told me throughout my life, but not nearly as many compliments. Ah, if only we could not allow others to affect us. I guess when that happens it means that we are finally truly happy with ourselves......sounds peaceful :)

  4. I love this! You totally brought tears to my eyes. Love you girl!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!