The F Word

July 27, 2015

We often talk about the fear of the ‘other’ – but [the big-bodied person] is not ‘other’, it’s your colleague at work, or it could be your mother, sister, neighbor. And everyone has issues with their body. Even supposedly small people can think they’re large – it’s how you identify.”- Kate Champion


I haven’t seen ‘Nothing Left to Lose’ yet because I can’t find it (so Tech Queens and Online Link Gawds, please holla in the comments) but from watching a ton of clips and reading just about every article I can find on it, I’m definitely intrigued. The word “fat” has become a slanderous, disrespectful term used in the media and that negative connotation has become a part of our lexicon. It’s as if I should type it out as “F**” to avoid problems. The question is, why? ‘Fat’ is a noun describing a person. That’s it. But somehow we’ve made it a catch-all for various negative, unattractive or indulgent human ways of being. As in:


‘I ate two cupcakes; I’m acting/feel so fat today.’
(How does one ACT fat, exactly?)




‘She’s so fatandugly.’
(often used as a portmanteau but fat is not the same as ugly, and ugly is not the same as fat. A person can be both or just one). 


People use these phrases often, but once fat is redefined as a neutral word used to describe a person, it’s genuinely no different that calling someone tall or short or left-handed.
This documentary both reclaims the word and dismantles the stigma in it by presenting an amazing group of fat dancers that would put your fav’s dancer to shame (no, really, they would).

Champion remarks that “… in a world where almost all media images peddle the skinny-as-beautiful line, it can be challenging seeing these large bodies taking the stage with neither shame nor embarrassment, showing them off with confidence. “


And she’s right. I can imagine these dancers’ bodies challenging some viewers because they don’t look like what we think when we think of  stereotypical dancers. To Champion’s earlier point, we ‘other’ different bodies because it creates and perpetuates a ‘haves and have nots’ paradigm. In that space, one kind of body is always ‘in’ (and receives benefits from that) and one kind of body is always ‘out.’ But what happens when we stop accepting that premise and decide that ALL healthy* bodies are good and acceptable? Well, in my head, it seems like if all healthy bodies are in, then everyone has a chance to feel great. But, for the people who had cornered the market on good bodies, if you expand the definition, then you dilute their power and privilege. In short, constantly pitting bodies against each other is a highly profitable game. If you don’t believe me, go check out a woman’s magazine. If you took out all articles that told you how to edit your body in some way, how much magazine would have left? I’m guessing, not much.


*I am well aware that someone will concern troll and cry ‘but what about the sickly fatties?!’ so let me cut you off at the pass; one should always pay attention to health issues that are often connected (but do not necessarily correlate) to obesity included diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure. But those maladies can be associated with ANY human body, no matter the size of their pants. So to the extent you feel and are healthy inside and out, feel free to do so in any body you choose. Plus nothing’s wrong with girls that are BBW, they look great AND they’ll eat a full and healthy lunch with you.


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