Brought to you by the letters F, A, and T

Ah, my second favorite F word.

My blog is called danceswithfat.  I describe myself as fat on this blog on a regular basis.   Let me say a few words about fat.

For me it a reclaiming term.  That is to say that it was a word used against me by bullies of every stripe to make me feel bad about myself.  My use of the word fat as a self-descriptor is my personal way of saying that those bullies cannot have my lunch money any more.

This is a personal decision for me – I have no desire to convince others to use it.  I honestly don’t care if anyone else uses it to describe themselves.  I do.   That being said, my feeling about reclaiming terms is that I can’t use a term unless I am willing to have others outside of my community use that term.  The caveat to that is that they must use the term with the same connotation and intent.

So if you want to call me fat – meaning that I have a lot of adipose tissue, I’m fine with that.  Just like you could say that I have long hair because I have a lot of hair.  If you want to call me fat in a way that is derisive- trying to make me feel bad and asserting assumptions that by my size you can tell my health, fitness, or anything about me other than my size, then you and I are going to have a problem. And buddy, you might as well stop eyeing my lunch money because there’s no way you’re getting it.

When I’m meeting someone in a coffee shop for a business meeting and I tell them to look for the “short, fat, brunette with her hair up in a bun”  they will often say “Oh, don’t call yourself fat”.  Not even once has someone said  “Oh, don’t call yourself brunette”.

In our culture, fat has become shorthand for any number of negative descriptors including:  unhealthy, lazy, unattractive, unfit, un-athletic etc.  People dread the idea of appearing fat and go to incredibly lengths of discomfort (from being wrapped in essentially plastic wrap and heated to being encased in so many restrictive undergarments that you can feel like some sort of shallow breathing sausage) in an effort for their bodies to appear to be a different size or shape… or just to look a little less fat. I weigh 284 pounds and they make swimsuits in my size that say “Look 10 pounds slimmer!”  Really?  What precisely could I be trying to accomplish by looking  274lbs instead of 284lbs?   But despite the fact that trying to get into one feels like an audition for Cirque du Soleil (I had to see what the hype was about), the woman in the fat girl store said that they can’t keep them on the shelves.  Of course people have every right to do whatever they want with their bodies and I have absolutely no issue with those choices, I’m just suggesting that we examine a culture in which making your body appear smaller can reasonably be considered a higher priority than say, breathing.

For me “fat” is a neutral descriptor.  In truth, it doesn’t accurately describe my predominant body composition since percentage-wise I’m not comprised mostly of  fat, but since I’m squishy and lumpy on the outside  “fat” seems to fit me.

I don’t think that “fat” is a negative descriptor any more than I think “brunette” is negative.  I also don’t think that “fat” is positive.  When I say that I’m part of the fat pride movement, I don’t mean that I’m proud to be fat anymore than I’m proud to be a brunette.  I mean that I am proud to be a successful woman with high self-esteem in a world where I get 386,170 negative messages about my body a year.  I’m proud to live fully outside the cultural standard of beauty and yet be sure of my beauty and sexiness, even in a world where Psychology Today prints an article that asserts: “To understand what it takes to be beautiful, we need to be very clear about what being beautiful means—being sexually appealing to men.”    I’m proud to have made the conscious decision not to diet because my vast research shows that it’s a scientifically unhealthy choice.  I’m proud to be able to say “no” to all of the things that the $60,000,000,000 dollar a year diet industry tries to sell me with absolutely no proof of efficacy. I’m proud of  this blog and incredibly grateful for every person who has ever said it had a positive impact on them.

Those are things to celebrate – those of thing of which I am very proud.

As for being fat?

I am fat.  And that is that.

14 thoughts on “Brought to you by the letters F, A, and T

  1. Once I realized that the word fat wasn’t a bad word by itself, I couldn’t believe how much it changed my view on the world. When someone called me fat I was just like Yup thats right I am fat! thanks for noticing! Once I realized this it made it so people couldn’t use it to bring me down. Its a great feeling! Thank you for an awesome post!

  2. Ragen, may I just say that I think I love you? ‘Cause I really do think I love you for the positive message you’ve helped convey to and through me. So, thank you, for everything you do. From your dance troupe to your blog. You totally rock my socks on a regular basis.


    1. Hi Karen,

      What an incredibly cool thing to say, thank you so much! I’m so glad that you like the blog and I will endeavor to keep it sock rocking good!


      1. If I didn’t live in Houston instead of Austin I would so be in your dance classes too, but alas, the drive is just a bit much for me.

  3. Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways.

    This is just one more time you have put my exact feelings into words in a way I have been trying to do for many years.

    thank you for rocking so hard!!!

  4. I hate it when people tell me that I’m not fat. According to BMI, I’m overweight. I have plenty of adipose tissue on my body. I have lumps and rolls. I have a rather ample bustline, chest fat.

    My father tells me how fat I am each time that he sees me. My sister was freaking out about how fat I got when she saw me last. My niece that saw me soon after thought that I must have gained over a hundred pounds the way her mother describe my weight, but it was less than fifteen pounds.

    I know I’m currently fat, because I have been thinner. Being thinner isn’t worth the effort. I would have to take a year or two to lose the few pounds I gained. It’s hard for me to lose weight. Then, I would have to exercise at least three if not four hours a day while still watching every piece of food I put in my mouth to keep it off. If I mess up for more than a few days in a row, the weight is back.

    It’s a stupid way to live. I don’t need to live my life to meet some arbitrary standard. I don’t see the point of being hungry and exhausted all my life for the sake of a few pounds. You can’t make me believe living that way is healthier. The media and most medical professionals will have us believe that the only way to be healthy is to do anything and everything to keep our weight down.

    It doesn’t matter to them that it requires unhealthy measures of extreme exercise and starvation. They won’t believe us that if we eat normal amounts and exercise regularly that we’ll maintain our current weight or regain any weight that was lost. They think we’re all liars. It’s hard to ignore all the thousands of comments that say that it’s easy to lose weight, that it’s easy to keep it off.

    1. Hi Lillian,

      One of my biggest pet peeves is the number of people who are willing to keep feeding into the lie that you can easily lose weight and keep it off despite all of the science to the contrary. Grrr. I’m sorry that your family is freaking out but you are awesome for making choices that actually work for you.

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