On my jog the other day, a guy, a stranger, rolled down the window of his car, and took a turn way too fast and hard, to take the opportunity to yell at me that I was a “fat bitch.”
When I was 19, I weighed 300 pounds. So if you think this is the first time I have been called a fat bitch, you would be mistaken, and frankly, grotesquely naive.
I mention all the time in this blog that I am not particularly thin. I often call myself chubby. And I have had people tell me they do not think this is true.
But one of the biggest problems and questions I deal with when I think about fatness, is who is using the word fat, and how are they using it? Because I am not using it as an insult. Merely an adjective. But many people use it as an insult. And it doesn’t even have to be “true” for them to use it and for it to hit home.
So if I tell someone I’m chubby, and they say “you’re not!” I am not clear if they hear chubby and think I am insulting myself, or if, from their perspective, I am not even chubby. Because fat women who describe themselves as fat are *often* told by friends and family and acquaintances that it’s not true. When it objectively is. But their friends see it as a jab, and want to assure their fat friends that they would never insult them.
The problem there is that the underlying idea is “fat is evil, but I love and respect you, so you can’t be fat.”
Friends, get over the idea that fat is bad. And stop telling your fat friends that they are “special fats.” That you don’t see them that way. They are not special. They are not different than other fat people. It is the connotations that you add to fatness that are the problem.
Trolls know that to be called fat in our fatphobic culture is devastating to most women. To women who have bought into the idea that thinness equals “goodness” and “morality” and “true womanhood,” to be called fat is to be called “lazy,” “shameful,” and “pathetic.” When a woman is committed to the idea of thinness as a virtue, what she hears when someone calls her fat, is that the one dishing out the word thinks she is unworthy of love and respect.
And those women don’t even have to be objectively fat to feel this. To be fat in the United States in 2020 currently only means “to not be thin.”
Does she have a belly? Call it fat. Wide hips? A big butt? Fat and fat. Thighs that touch? Fat.
I am 5’ 6.5” and I wear a size Large or XL, depending on the cut, and I have all of the things I mentioned above. I have a belly, and wide hips, (though not much of a butt I guess) and round thighs that touch. But most people would probably not consider me fat. *I* certainly don’t consider myself fat.
But a stranger in his car was so invested in the idea of the fatness of my body that *while I was working out* he felt the need to call me a fat bitch. The bitch part was just for existing, I suppose.
Much like AOC, I was not deeply hurt by this. It was just another day and another moment dealing with another asshole. I also worked in bars and restaurants in New York City, and have walked city streets and taken public transportation. Lots of men are like that. Lots of women too. (But more men. In case you were wondering.)
I want to close with this thought. If you are going to describe me as being fat, use the word fat. I don’t think if it as an insult. I hate euphemisms. Fluffy? Makes me want to gag. I am not a dog. And there is no fluff. Only jiggle. Heavy set? I am a beautiful woman, not a lumberjack. Big Boned? It’s not my bones that are big.
And don’t expect that yelling out a window that I am a fat bitch will do anything more to me than inspire me to write a blog about you. Because fat doesn’t bother me. And neither does bitch. As a woman with integrity and boundaries, with whatever adjective they choose, I expect people will call me a bitch for the rest of my life.