Fat and shame are not the same, but society today says they are. At a certain point in history and even in certain countries still, being fat is a sign of prosperity and wealth. What happened to our society? Where did we take a sharp turn and never look back? I’ve heard of parents banning the word from their home; schools sending letters to warn parents if their child is at risk for being fat and a celebrity even said, “calling someone fat should be illegal.” Today, calling someone fat might as well be compared to a hate crime and it can change the course of someone’s day, week, or even life.
It happened in my home; direct and indirect messages taught me that being fat was the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. I grew up petrified of being fat. Three little letters compounded into one simple word changed the course of my life. I risked everything and nearly killed myself engaging in behaviors to avoid being what I feared so much. It scared me to death to not be skinny. If I was fat then no one would love me. Because fat is such a bad word, right? So anyone who is fat must be bad, right? And if I were to be fat then I would be less of a person, bad and unlovable, right?
I remember calling my grandma from a treatment center distraught because I had gained weight and she said, “Danielle, I will always love you, even if you gain 200 pounds I will love you.” I was still upset about gaining weight but it was so comforting to know she still loved me and would continue to love me and it had nothing to do with my size.
The way in which the word fat has been turned into such a horrible term perpetuates the idea that being fat is an awful thing and it creates more problems than it solves.
I recently saw a quote by J.K. Rowling that said,
“Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vein, boring, evil, or cruel? Not to me.”
How true is that message? As a society, we can’t continue to teach our children that being fat is a moral issue. Avoiding the word at all cost teaches them that if they are fat then they are worth less. Children must be taught that we are all made in God’s image and that people come in all shapes and sizes. They need to know they’ll be loved no matter their size.
I can’t imagine how different my life would be had I been taught that I would be loved at any size. It is a lesson I am still learning. My heart aches for people who fear being called fat so much. So what? Calling someone fat should not be derogatory or demeaning. I have to remind myself of that daily and even minute by minute. Fat is not the worst thing that could happen to me.
Bulimic and Ashamed, video resource
Why Women Find it Hard to Love Themselves, Emily Wierenga
Mom I Feel Fat, book resource by Sharon A. Hersh, LPC