I'm Fat. It's OK. Here's Why We All Need To Get A Little More Comfy With The F-Word
My name is Jes Baker. I write a blog called The Militant Baker; it's about body-image feminism, "fatshion," and mental health. I am intelligent, snarky, kind, radical, compassionate, self-starting, outgoing, funny, opinionated, cheerful, loud, and a million other things. But here and now, I want to talk about the thing that strangers see first, the thing I’m judged on most. The reason I wrote a book: I’m pretty damn fat.
I have a fat body, and I think it’s quite lovely.
I know what you’re thinking. But Jes, don’t call yourself fat! You’re just chubby. Fluffy. Curvy. Chunky. Plus-size.
Naw, girl, I’m fat.
Here’s why I use the “f-word” all the time: The word fat is not inherently bad. It’s an adjective. It’s a benign descriptor of size. Saying “I’m fat” is (and should be) the same as saying, "My shoes are black, the clouds are fluffy, and Bob Saget is tall." It’s not good; it’s not bad; it just is.
The only negativity this word carries is that which has been socially constructed around it; our aversion is completely learned. It’s our association that is disparaging, and this is what we must change. We don’t need to stop using the word fat; we need to stop the hatred that our world connects with the word fat. So I use it because I have decided that it’s my word now. And the more I use it positively, the more stigmas I smash.
Now, I don’t ever walk up to strangers and say, “Hey, fatty!” Because we have not yet found a way to normalize the word into the mainstream, there is a really good chance that it is still offensive to them. But me calling myself fat? Ain’t no thang. I even find the word empowering.
I have a fat body, and I think it’s quite lovely.
But because our society still thinks that fat bodies are especially vile, I’ve automatically been put into several kinds of “boxes.” Boxes with darling labels like cultural deviant — a freak of physical nature. Or embarrassment to society. When strangers or extended family moan and groan about the horrific obesity crisis in America? Yeah, they are talking about me. I’m also your worst nightmare. I’m the reason you diet. I’m the reason you go to the gym. I’m your “thinspiration," because, god knows, you do not want to end up like me.
If you’re fat too, you probably know what I’m talking about.
A few years ago I decided I would no longer accept these negative labels. After a breakup on which my body was blamed, I found myself at a metaphorical fork in the road. I knew I needed to carefully choose which path I was going to take: continue to hate my body or learn to love my body.
I started to reclaim the word fat, using it with carefree abandon.
I wasn’t (and still am not) going to lose 110 pounds overnight and suddenly be “okay.” So I made the best decision of my life: I decided to love my body. And then I decided to write about it online. Since then, I’ve become completely enveloped in the world of body activism, and, as it turns out, that world is one I very much need.
I dove headfirst into the body-positive community. As I learned more about body love, I started to notice something interesting: The way I perceived the world shifted considerably. I quickly became less judgmental, not only of others but also of myself! I was reformatting my reality.
I transitioned my original blog to The Militant Baker, which debuted as an honest look at my life. I stuck to my guns and portrayed my real life. While other bloggers were displaying pictures of their kitschy mug of coffee next to their cat bathing in the sun snuggled against their new cross-stitch projects, I was posting pictures of my sink full of dirty dishes and my shampoo Mohawk creations in the shower.
I wrote about tough topics such as self-care, nighttime depression, emotional “first aid kits,” and why leaving the house without makeup on was radical. I made a point of writing about the things that were raw and relevant to my very imperfect life.
The ability to be down-and-dirty honest in the digital world of sparkling houses and perfect “Friendsgivings” was intoxicating. I loved the thrill of reckless transparency. Fortunately, that thrill has never faded.
I participated in body love challenges, posting full-body pictures with my dress size showing loud and proud on the images. I started to reclaim the word fat, using it with carefree abandon and reveling in the fact that I was getting away with loving myself just as I am.
So, why is the fact that I’m fat the most important thing for you to know about me? Well, because as far as body shapes go, fat ones are the most reviled in our society. Because my journey toward learning to love a body that I have been told is unworthy has been life-changing. Because learning to love my body as it is has convinced me that not only is it possible, but it’s necessary to living a truly happy and fulfilling life. Because I want you to have the opportunity to hear these revelations too. Because being fat and learning how to accept it has defined my mission as a body activist. So, WELCOME.
Photo courtesy of © Liora K Photography
Adapted from Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living by Jes Baker, published with permission by Seal Press, members of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2015.