There’s No Such Thing as “Acting Fat”

facepalmThis is something that came up several ways in several places today so I wanted to address it.  It’s the concept that someone can “act fat.” The three situations that I saw were:

Someone ate a lot and said that they “ate like a fat kid”

Someone had a slow run and said that they “ran like a fatty”

Someone described skipping their workout as being “fatty for a day”

Dude, no.  Here’s what actually happened:

A thin person ate a lot.

A thin person ran slowly.

A thin person skipped their workout today.

Being fat is a body size/composition, it is not a behavior or group of behaviors – fat people have as wide and varied experiences and choices as any group of people who share a single physical characteristic. There are people of all sizes who eat “a lot”, run “slowly” (or not at all) and skipped their workout today (or don’t workout ever).  There are people of all sizes who eat “a little”, run “fast”, and didn’t skip their workout today. These are all totally valid choices, they are also all personal choices that are nobody else’s business.

When people say that they are “acting fat” what they are actually doing is acting like the kind of asshole who stereotypes people based on how they look.  This is actually two layers of crap. The first layer is the mistaken idea that our personal choices around food and exercise should be judged at all, the second layer is that we should associates specific ways of behaving with broad appearance-based categories (ie: fat and thin.)

Our body sizes and our behaviors are two different things, neither of which should be up for public comment, or be anybody else’s business unless we ask them to make it their business (anyone wishing to make a “but muh tax dollarz!” argument should check out this post.)  When a thin person chooses not to exercise they are not “acting fat” any more than when I train for an IRONMAN I’m “acting thin.”  We’re just different sized people doing (or not doing) our own personal stuff.

Own your choices – if you are a thin person who eats a lot, runs slowly, is skipping a workout, is licking donuts (that you already own!), etc. that’s all fine, but it has absolutely nothing to do with fat people, so kindly leave us out of it.

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14 thoughts on “There’s No Such Thing as “Acting Fat”

  1. I would agree completely with your idea that whether a person exercises (or not) and what they eat is private and (should be) their business alone. I tend to agree that it is possible that using thin people to act fat, is a way to intrude on this privacy.
    Actually another possibilty is that by not using fat actors and actresses
    they avoid subliminal ques which these fat people may semi or subconsciously project that differ from what the powers that be in the media want the public to hear.
    I believe the acting profession was the original source of the projection of the Grecian beautiful standard of “beauty” onto the general population.They love to project and ham it up before an audience and the growth of the mass media has given them the power to project their “ideals” as the standard for everybody. Of course they are impinging and negating other standards of beauty
    which abound in the society naturally. They WANT to intrude on other peoples privacy, that is their way.
    Since fat people and their admirers male and female, are the antithesis of the standards of the acting profession, they have used
    their projective power to force discrimination on the fat community.
    Hence the development of the Diet Industry which relies on subliminal
    advertizing and encourages social ostracism of fat people so that in desperatrion they will turn to anything which stops the pressure.This includes the fact of repeated failure which is used to gain further monetary reward by the diet industry.
    The medical profession has joined the act and basically ostrazises
    fat people, especially the extremely fat, so that it has become a major
    mortality factor contributing thru negligence to early death and advanced deseases. We all get sick eventually, but the fat, cannot get effective treatment easily if at all.
    They are extending the mistreatment to fat children, by in some states
    taking them away from their parents and putting them in foster homes and placing them on diets when they are still growing.Guess what that leads to.Adolescencents similarly are subject to bullying, social ostrasicism , diet failure etc.
    One place for FA’s to meet fat people is at a diet club or organization.
    Clearly they are not wanted, since they are “diet busters” etc.
    Call it what you will, it certainly includes sexual infighting among human beings. I believe it is the primary reason for this hatred.
    OUR WAY of responding to this series of assaults is very likely to be different from their way of fighting. The only way to find out what it is, is to turn to OUR individual internal truth, which has been blotted by the system in power in each of us. If we do that individually some of us
    will find that we have unusual abilities and enormous power.These individuals will lead us, as end this atrocity for all.

  2. There is ZERO relation between weight and behavior. There are lazy skinny people, hard working active fat people, and everything in between.

  3. And there I thought “acting fat” was wrapping yourself in a down pillow and wearing your father’s sweater over it to portray the outcast fat boy at a school theatre performance.

    *shakes head*

    1. I used to think that “feeling fat,” meant you were bloated. Silly, naïve child that I was.

      Ever have that thing where the jeans that fit fine this morning become uncomfortably tight in the evening, and you realize that something you ate really disagreed with you?

      It’s not that you ate too much and suddenly BECAME FAT, but that your body is having a negative reaction to something in your food, and bloats.

      But no, now I learn that “feeling fat,” means feeling guilty/afraid for eating a donut, or a second helping of soup, or GASP! having your salad dressing ON the salad, instead of on the side!

      I really hate that phrase now.

      1. Ugh, I hate getting that little approving smile from a waitress, on the rare occasions when I eat out, because I asked for no mayo on the burger or dressing on the side or a vegetable instead of fries. No, I am not trying to be a good fatty. I don’t like mayo. I like to dip my lettuce in my dressing. I like vegetables better than fries. Quit assigning moral value to my food, damn it!

        1. A world of yes! That approving nod or “good job” smile – feels like a pat on the head “That’s a good fatty!”. I just want to tell them: UGH – Piss Off! You don’t act like that with the thin person I’m with who orders the same thing, don’t do it to me. I’m Not doing this for your approval, I order what I like – so kindly keep your idiotic judgements to yourself.

          1. It’s like whenever anyone sees the small, healthy meals I take to work. Their eyes light up and they gleefully ask: “Are you on a diet?!” No! It just what I like to eat. Stop commenting on my food choices!

  4. You got that right, Ragen! The only valid reason a person can have for “acting fat,” is if they are actually playing the role of a fat person. And they need to do that with respect for the character, and avoid stereotypes.

    As with mobility challenged characters – if the character stays in a wheelchair throughout the entire show, please cast an actor who already uses a wheelchair. If the character is fat throughout the entire show, please cast a fat actor.

    However, if the character goes through changes (has scenes walking around, without mobility aids, or has scenes where the character is thinner), then casting an actor who can cover all the possibilities, by using an unneeded wheelchair, or wearing a fatsuit, then it’s OK. In fact, it can be helpful to the community, because it gives the people who are stuck in the mindset of “handicapped are X” or “fat people are X,” where X is a negative stereotype, the chance to see that no, these people are just people who wound up in a wheelchair, or being fat. If the person walks around all “normal” and thin and sympathetic, and gets the audience to care for them, and THEN goes into the chair or fatsuit, people look at them much differently than they do if they see the person in the chair or fatsuit in the first place. First impressions are powerful, especially with bigoted people. So, it can be quite valuable to act such a part.

    What is NOT OK, just absolutely horrible, is “acting fat,” by having the character in a fatsuit engage in stereotypical “fat” behavior, and thereby placing the blame on that behavior, despite the fact that we KNOW that weight can be, and often is, actually a symptom of underlying issues, such as PCOS, kidney failure, thyroid issues, etc. That is just reinforcing those stereotypes, and I don’t like it.

    I’d prefer to see the stereotype flipped, where the person in the fat suit is eating greens and working out, while their thin friend sits by, and watches, while eating ice cream and lounging on the couch. I’d like it even more if they point out that the thin person can do that, and people think she’s “so healthy,” when really she has some serious health issues, but that’s her own business, thankyouverymuch, and let her acknowledge her privilege. That would be a cool scene.

    This reminds me – today on ThisIsThinPrivilege.tumblr, someone asked about a problematic situation. She LOVES a particular fat character, and really wants to dress up as this fat character, but is not fat, herself. She claims to be middling, so not really thin, and could probably pass for “Hollywood fat,” but still, it’s a problematic issue. Could she wear the fat-character costume, without hurting people’s feelings? It’s sort of like a white person dressing up as Martin Luther King, because they totally admire Martin Luther King, but the also know it’s not a good idea to wear blackface, but without the blackface, it’s just a man in a suit. It’s quite problematic.

    But then again, how often do you see women dressing as male characters? And people mostly think it’s cute.

    I think, more positive representation of fat characters is a good thing, and the fact that she loves this fat character is just awesome, so maybe if she wore that fat character costume, and just enthused the whole time about how much she loved that character (maybe held a sign), then it could be positive. But odds are, she’d wind up hurting someone’s feelings, anyway.

    Odds are, but you can’t really predict it.

    Just as the word “niggardly” has absolutely nothing to do with “the n-word,” but it sounds similar, and so people are hurt by it, and therefore I avoid using it, just to avoid the problem, I think it would be wisest for her to avoid wearing the fat character costume, but that saddens me that she should be limited in that way, especially as it will cut down other people’s exposure to an awesome fat character.

    Maybe she could go with a fat friend, and let the fat friend wear the fat character costume, and the thinner fan can support her, especially when fat-phobic people make jackasses of themselves and mistreat the fat one. Yeah.

    Anyway, I don’t have a tumblr, so I couldn’t comment there, so I’m commenting here, because this is where I do all my fat-talk. And it seemed sort of connected to this article’s topic – acting fat. Cosplay is a form of acting, after all.

    My favorite costume is to wear a t-shirt that has been painted up with slogans like “Ceilings #1” and “Ceilings ROCK!” and being all bouncy, enthusiastic, and randomly bursting out with cheers: “Goooooo, CEILINGS!” I like puns, and there is almost zero chance of offending. Plus, it’s cheap.

  5. That “eating like a fat kid” thing is infuriating. Know what it’s like to eat as a fat kid? Every bite you put in your mouth is judged and commented on. You can expect a lecture to accompany any “bad” thing you might eat, even if it’s a slice of your own bloody birthday cake. Adults don’t consider you a child at all, but an enemy they need to defeat, and they’ll use plenty of adult language when they tell you to put down that (whatever it is you’re eating). If you do indeed get to eat, and don’t get your plate snatched away before you’re full, or get some kind of “healthy” low-calorie instant shake instead (I didn’t suffer this myself, but I know fat kids who did). Does that sound like the meal you’re referring to? No? Then you didn’t eat like a fat kid.

    1. Did your father try to hypnotize you, and convince you that the disgusting diet shake was actually tasty? No? Then you didn’t eat like a fat kid.

      Did the hypnosis fail, but you drink the disgusting shake, anyway, because you were so very hungry, and it was the only option allowed to you? No? Then you didn’t eat like a fat kid.

      Did your parents decide that you’d consume nothing but water, prune juice and psyllium hulls mixed with apple juice for three days? (To be fair, they did it themselves, as well, putting the entire fat family on a “cleanse,” and afterwards, with no lasting positive results, we never did it again. But other forms of dieting did continue.) No? Then you didn’t eat like a fat kid.

      I’m sure I could come up with more. This could be a fun game. Sort of like Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck…” shtick. Who else wants to play?

      1. Oh, I’ve got some more!

        Ever been accused of sneaking, stealing, or hiding food by hysterical adults who can’t think of any other way you couldn’t be losing weight? No? Then you didn’t eat like a fat kid.

        Ever feel obligated to leave food on your lunch tray at school so you wouldn’t be bullied for eating all of it? No? Then you didn’t eat like a fat kid.

        Was your age in single digits when you tasted your first SlimFast? No? Then you didn’t eat like a fat kid.

  6. Acting fat? “fatty for a day”? There is just too much stupidness in the world today!
    I am fat, but I am trying to think back now to see if I have ever “acted fat”. I know because I had IBS I used to comment on my “food baby” because I would always get abdominal swelling after eating.
    Do people do the opposite? Do people act thin? Because it sounds just as ridiculous for someone to say, “I ate nothing but salad and some grilled chicken today #skinnyforaday ” hahahaha

    Basically, be you fat or skinny, accept yourself, live it, love it and be healthy and happy!

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