When you tell me “No, you’re not fat.” maybe you think you’re paying me a compliment. Maybe you’re trying to make me feel better (in which case you can stop, because fat is not an insult), or in some weird way trying to make yourself feel better. Or maybe you’re just an egomaniac who is incapable of understanding that your opinion is not the only opinion. I don’t know.
What I do know is that you have got to stop. Whatever the reasons, no matter how many you have or how valid you think they are, you have got to stop.
Because this is what you’re actually saying to me when you say “No, you’re not fat.”:
“Your body is up for debate.”
I am not an ethical issue. I am not a political idea. I am not Marmite. There is no debate or argument to be had here. Dictatorship, remember? What I say, goes.
“I have more right to define your body than you do.”
In primary school we had to fill in a sheet describing ourselves physically. ‘My eyes are blue/brown/grey’ ‘I am short/tall’ and so on. When it came to hair colour, I said brown. When my teacher saw this, she said “no, no it’s not brown. It’s black.” and changed my sheet.
This memory has stuck with me for maybe 20 years because it’s the first time I remember being angry with a teacher, although at the time I couldn’t articulate exactly why. Now I get it – even then I knew that it’s wrong for somebody else to think they can define my body better than I can.
I got angry when my teacher tried to define me as black-haired, I got angry when a man tried to define me as a girl and then as a lady, and I get angry when people try to define me as skinny or thin or ‘normal’ or however they word it. The words don’t matter; the subtext is always saying they can define me and I cannot.
“I experience your reality better than you do.”
I live in my body. I experience my body. Only me. Nobody else can, does, or will ever see my body through my eyes and process that image with my brain. And my experience of it is of a fat body.
Of course that’s not the only way I see it. It’s a strong, flexible, rhythmic, tuneful, brave, brown-haired, stretch-marked, short(ish), creative, loving, hopeful, fat body.
If I wrote a post about how creative I am, nobody would dream of telling me “No, you’re not creative.” and I wouldn’t accept it if they did. I know I am creative because that is my experience of living in this body.
I don’t accept people telling me I’m not fat, I know I am because that is my experience of living in this body.
“Your experience of reality does not exist.”
Like I said, my reality comes from experiencing my body with my interpretation of it. When you say I’m wrong about being fat, you’re telling me that my reality is not actually real. In abuse terms this is called gaslighting. Please, stop abusing me.
“The way you define yourself is offensive to me”
Several people have got really worked up about me calling myself fat. I know what it’s like, I’ve been speechless with irritation before when someone smaller than me has repeatedly complained about being fat. Saying they’re fat must mean they think I’m enormous!!
It’s taken me many years to realise that saying they’re fat actually means they…are just saying they’re fat.
People are incredibly self-centred, if they are commenting on their own fat-ness it has nothing to do with you. They are either a) fishing for comments on their thinness (I am not this one) or b) actually experiencing their body as a fat body (this is me). Comparison to and comments on your body are so not the point.
I am not commenting on your size by defining mine. Why would I? Your body is your business, just as my body is mine.
Of course if you want to keep thinking “No, you’re not fat” then I can’t stop you. But do not say it, type it, write it, or text it to me. This is not up for debate and I am not taking any more comments on it. Just stop. Now.