Redefining Fat

I know this video is making the rounds (I got it from Tekanji) but I don’t think it can be shown enough. It’s making me rethink the value in calling someone “overweight” instead of “fat”. “Overweight” implies a value judgment, because of the word “over”. Fat is the correct term; it just needs to be sanitized of its negative connotations, which is obviously more than one blog can do.

If you don’t want to watch the video, let me sum it up. This woman weighs 224. She eats right and exercises, and says everyone should (btw, the skinny person you know who eats shit and never walks anywhere? Go give her a lecture about self-discipline, self-respect and morals, and go apologize to the last “fat” person you gave it to). But, she says, if you do that and you’re healthy you’re still “fat”, then who cares? “Fat” is a physical description. Like hair color.

We need to neutralize the term instead of avoid it.

Damn. She’s got a point. I had a revelation a couple of weeks ago about my own health and weight. My mother’s entire family is technically overweight, despite excellent amounts of exercise and good eating. For years, I lamented our bad genes because we just could not lose weight from eating right and exercising. Then I realized: we all live to be 80-100, active to the end, no heart disease, diabetes, cancer or Alzheimer’s. I hit the genetic jackpot. I will outlive all those people who told me I had to be lying about “eating right and exercising” because I was still overweight. If, by the way, you’ve ever put a “fat” person through that, you were wrong and you caused them undue suffering. Don’t give me your excuses. Just go apologize to them right now.

So you can call me fat if you want – just don’t expect me to think you mean it as criticism. I’ve been working with a personal trainer for two months and I’ve gained 10 pounds and expanded a bit in size. All my flab is turning to muscle and my flexibility is amazing, so I can kick your head off your neck. I am so much healthier than your gorgeous skinny friend who eats junk food and never exercises. I also have better self-discipline, self-respect and morals than her, so think before you assume “fat” people are lesser human beings.


  1. Maartje says

    I totally agree with you and this video. I’ve done the diet thing and now (three years later) I am back to my old weight. So diets don’t mean a thing. Since I forbade my father to make comments about my weight I feel great! I’m even convinced I look good. Not always of course, but most of the time…
    But what have morals got to do with it? Fat can be construed as visually offensive, but moraly?
    This btw is an actual question I would like the answer to… Are there people in the world who have moral grounds to be against fat?

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    But what have morals got to do with it? Fat can be construed as visually offensive, but moraly?
    This btw is an actual question I would like the answer to… Are there people in the world who have moral grounds to be against fat?

    The trope here goes: if you’re fat, that means you don’t take care of yourself, don’t care about your health/body, don’t respect your mate enough to make yourself pleasing to him/her, etc. I’ve heard liberal, socially progressive (but naturally slim) employers complain that they’re not allowed to fire/refuse to hire fat people on the basis that fat people are obviously going to develop expensive illnesses that will take their toll on the group insurance plan the company partially pays for. And damn those immoral fat people for doing that! They’re disgusting! /eyeroll

    It’s this whole mass hysteria we have going about the “obesity epidemic in America” causing increased diabetes and heart trouble. The actual evidence seems to indicate is that genes are the main determinant of diabetes and heart trouble, but that’s gotten lost in the noise.

    On a side note, I frequently jog up flights of stairs without becoming at all breathless. I’ve had slim people remark in awe that they could never do that, and wonder how can I not be slim? Well, I have muscles and I have a very fit cardiovascular system. The fact that I don’t look like some people think I should is… just noise. At least, I’m getting to where it’s just noise and not painful to hear. πŸ˜‰

  3. sbg says

    That was brilliant. There’s a tremendous bias against “fat” people out there, and it’s so ingrained in the way people think and act most of us don’t even realize how incredibly prejudiced we’re being.

    It’s also an issue faced by both men and women. I have to wonder, though, if it’s just a tad worse for fat women. FCOL, I learned a couple of weeks ago that the token full-figured model contestants on America’s Next Top Model were size 8/10. Yeah. That’s STILL smaller than much of the population.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think it’s definitely still worse for women. I haven’t seen a “No Fat Pricks” bumper sticker yet. Then again, every -ism tends to go worse for the women it slurs than for the men, possibly just because most -isms are real friendly with sexism, so they join forces when they run into a woman.

  5. scarlett says

    A friend of mine would diet and excercise vigorously (she could be a total killjoy about it, but that’s beside the point) and the slimmest she goty to was 80Kgs. She just had that kind of body, and I could explain til I was blue in the face that she did cardiovascular for at least an hour a day and people didn’t believe me.

    I totally agre with that bit about the only gaurentee for ongoing slimness being genetics. This idea that ‘skinny’ means ‘healthy’ can be quite deceptive, because it gives skinny people the luxury of chowing down what they want. There are a lot of really skinny women in my family (seriously, Kate Moss would kill for my aunt’s figure) who are suffering from borderline diabetes and heart problems from 30 years of poor lifestyle. My Aus-16 sister is in better health then me (10) and our other sister (8) precicely because she eats better then us and walks several Km’s a day several days a week because she doesn’t have that ‘blessing’ of a matabloism that allows her to chow down crap and veg out in front of the TV all day.

    So the point of that little rant is that there is absolutely no correlation between body size, diet and general health. I mean, who here seriously thinks Kate Moss is in good health?

  6. says

    That’s an excellent video. I particularly like the positive message of not letting fat limit you and not expecting rejection or accepting mistreatment because of it, rather go out with confidence and wear clothes that make you look and feel good now. She looked great!!! I was actually surprised when she said she weighed over 200 pounds, but then it hit me that my surprise was just a question of misconceptions.

    I haven’t discussed weight much on my blog, but it’s a big issue especially for women in my area of expertise (Mormonism) because of the emphasis on appearances. I touched on it a little tiny bit in my post about Jack Weyland.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    Scarlett – very nicely put. And in that sense, the stereotyping IS actually doing naturally slim people harm, since their size is absolutely no indication of their tendencies toward various health threats, but they’re being led to believe it is.

    CL – Oye – the Sam story you mentioned from Weyland was indeed ill-advised.

    We’re talking about starting a blog and/or forum somewhere around here for the discussion of weight issues. Would you be interested in that? As a participant or a writer?

    Anybody else?


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