You Keep Using that Word…I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means

Readers, I have a bone to pick. I apologize for any abrasiveness in the following entry, but I have some major weight to get off my chest. I say the following for all of my friends and family who are currently having or who have ever had a struggle with their weight. And I say it also for all of my friends and family who maybe don’t realize that a certain behavior of theirs is actually hurting people they care about. I do apologize—this is apparently I’ve Got Various Chips On My Shoulders week. But this has got to be said.

To begin, I would like to paraphrase some things I’ve heard people say over the years:

“OMG I feel so fat today.”

“Went to a friend’s birthday party and pigged out…lol so fat.”

“Had an extra helping of mom’s Christmas torte. Shouldn’t have eaten so much, but it was soooooo good. #fatforlife”

…really now.

I’m sure you’ve all heard/seen friends say/write things like the above. Usually they’re friends who are, if not half your weight, then at least not nearly as out of shape as an extra cookie after dinner makes them feel. In essence, they have maybe ten to fifteen pounds of extra weight on them at most, and having a treat once in a great while isn’t going to negatively affect that at all.

I for one am really tired of seeing and hearing this type of thing, especially from people I know who are not fat. And I know I’m not the only blogger to write about this, but I’m irritated enough that I’m going to throw in my two cents.

Why am I irritated? For three reasons.

One, the people who I hear saying this sort of thing are, without realizing it, trivializing the very real, very difficult struggle that I, their friend, am in the midst of, by talking about how “fat” they are when they are not only not fat, but actually in pretty decent shape. I can understand that eating something you don’t normally indulge in does produce certain feelings about yourself and about what you just did. But please. Choose a different word. “Fat” is not the word you want. More on that in a minute.

Two, it’s incredibly hurtful and insulting for you to talk about how “fat” you are like it’s a bad thing and then turn to me with a smile and tell me how “beautiful” of a person I am. Weren’t you just going on about how fat you are and how gross it is that you’re so fat? I’m easily twice your size. If you think your own body is gross because you just ate a huge, greasy hamburger, what must you think of me and my nearly one hundred pounds of excess weight? It’s not cute, silly, or funny. I am not going to laugh about it with you. Kindly knock it off.

And three, the people who I see saying this are way too intelligent to be using vocabulary that is so grossly incorrect. You do not feel “fat”. What you feel is guilty for having an entire basket of French fries. What you feel is bloated when your favorite jeans are a bit too tight. You are not fat. There is a big difference. Those around you who are fat would appreciate it if you would alter your vocabulary to accurately reflect the situation.

As a corollary to this and a potential reason number four why this sort of thing annoys me is that the people who say this who are feeling guilty need to stop beating themselves up for every occasional indulgence in a decadent food. It’s not the end of the damn world if—and keep in mind this is coming from a person with an eating disorder and all the guilt that entails for slipping up—you have an extra spoonful of ice cream once a month. Either enjoy the damn ice cream or don’t eat it. But don’t eat it anyway and then laugh about how “fat” you feel. You’re making your fat friends and family feel pretty terrible, actually.

There. I’ve said it. I’m sorry for ranting. But as I’ve said in other posts, honesty is very important for this blog, not only for my personal catharsis, but to let those reading know they aren’t alone if they’re having similar experiences. Sometimes that can make the difference between a person feeling amazingly better about themselves or hating everything they see.

This post does feel a little passive-aggressive to me. I should be saying this directly to the people I’ve heard say these things, and I believe I will do so from now on. But again, this isn’t just about me. I know there are others out there who have been hearing this from the people around them and trying, as I have for so long, to put their finger on exactly why it made them feel uncomfortable or hurt. So I hope this helped.

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7 thoughts on “You Keep Using that Word…I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means

  1. imfree2bme6 says:

    I just found your blog and I think you are awesome! I saw your picture from one of your first blog posts and I have to tell you I think you are really pretty! I really want to thank you for this post! I have been eating disordered for the past 20 years! (Anorexic/restrictive, Bulimic, EDNOS, back to severe AN/restrictive) I have been in recovery for 18 months and I am finally recovered, well at least well on my way. I never believed in full recovery before, but I never had the support that I have had this time around. I just want to say that it is possible to recover and I believe you will! Sugar is my addiction as well.

    Sorry for that lengthy bit of history but you helped me figure out what my misplaced guilt and fat talk was about. When I would say I feel “fat” I really thought I was believing that I was fat. My dietitian kept telling me “fat” wasn’t a feeling, but never really understood. Of course I “feel fat” look how bloated I am! Like you said “bloated” not “fat”. Also, I would remark how “fat” I was after eating (random junk food) and you are so very right it wasn’t “fat” I was feeling, it was guilt, or maybe not even guilt, because is it “wrong” to eat ice cream? No it’s not wrong, so what I was really feeling was shame.

    I also find it hard to listen to people go on about how they are “fat” and need to diet, and how horrible they are for eating TWO cookies! UGH! That is the last thing I needed to hear as I really was gaining weight, yes much needed weight, but still it was hard. I hated hearing about the *gasp* 5 lbs they gained over the holidays when I had just gained 20!

    I wish that us women could be more loving to ourselves. Is fat or having fat really the worst thing that can happen to us? Are we any less human because of our size? I hate that our society thinks this way. Anyway thank you for this post and I wish you luck on your journey.

    • Astrid says:

      Hi! It’s great to meet you! Thank you so much for reading, and even more for commenting! I’m hoping my blog can spur discussion as well as be an outlet for my own thoughts.

      I have a friend who has struggled with anorexia, and it is unbelievably difficult. It’s wonderful that you’re able to recognize that you are also struggling with it, and even more awesome that your recovery seems to be going so well! Best of luck to you!

      I’m glad to know that this entry helped you to think about the topic in question in a different way. And no, it isn’t wrong to eat ice cream–though speaking as a binge eater, moderation is definitely a good idea 😛 I have sugar-free popsicles in my freezer! They’re tasty and sweet, but totally guilt-free. I can have one pretty much whenever I want. So they make a great stand-in for ice cream.

      I do wish that society was less concerned with body image. That more in-shape people worry about being “fat” because they ate two cookies says a lot, I think, about our culture and the way it puts value on different body types. Unfortunately, none of what it says is positive.

      Good luck on your journey as well! And thanks again for reading.

      • imfree2bme6 says:

        You are right, moderation is best. I have problems with moderation when it comes to sweets, but I have found it is easier when I have eaten enough of the right foods to balance it.

        Thank you for the Popsicle idea! I found out about 10 months ago that I have quite a few food allergies/sensitivities, and dairy is one of them. Bye bye beloved ice cream. I have been looking for a replacement but I seem to be allergic to the ingredients in the non dairy ones as well. I will have to check out the Popsicles or maybe make my own with fresh fruit!

        It’s good to meet you and I am looking forward to reading your blog!

      • Astrid says:

        Oo, yeah! Fruit is an excellent idea. I’ve heard of people doing that, and think it would be nifty to try it myself sometime. You could also make your own popsicles with fruit juice.

  2. Heather says:

    Omg fruit juice popsicles. *drool*

    You’re right. There is definitely a difference between feeling bloated and feeling fat. In general, if I say I feel fat it’s because I do, in fact, feel fat. I feel the extra weight hanging from me, or pushing on my organs if I try to move in a way that larger bodies aren’t built to move. Frankly, if I say I feel fat what I, as bigger woman, am really saying is that I am currently intensely aware of my extra weight in general–not just my stomach, but everywhere–and it is making me feel more or less like I am being smothered by my own body. But it is not the same feeling you get from eating too much or eating something unhealthy. You can’t say you feel fat until you have actually been medically classified as fat because you are really quite ignorant of what feeling fat is like.

    • Astrid says:

      Oo, that is excellent input, and a side of things I had not considered. Thank you! It is indeed possible to actually feel fat. I am well familiar with that feeling, because I am actually fat. And you’re right. It’s impossible to know what that’s like unless you’ve actually experienced it, just like it’s impossible to know what it feels like to have a broken finger if you’ve never had one.

  3. […] pounds. But my body shows even five pounds gained or lost. The joys of my individual body type. I hate to say this but, well…I’ve been feeling fat. I find myself back in that cycle of wanting junk foods […]

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