As I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning, The Pervocracy, I was pleased to find she had written her monthly article mocking Cosmopolitan magazine. There was a terrific line in the article that crystallized some of my thoughts on the idea that girls have to call themselves fat:
Your guy knows you’re not fat. He can see you’re not fat. But the more you say you’re fat, the more he’ll start to question the evidence.
But I am fat. I’m not being self-deprecating or whatever, I’m just being… roundish. And I don’t think any combination of words would cause a person who sees me naked to question the “evidence” that my body is the size and shape that it appears to be.
Of course, this sentence makes perfect sense if you understand “fat” to be a word with absolutely no relation to a person’s weight or size, but simply an insult of their worth and sexual appeal. [emphasis mine] Which seems to be the thing these days. Kind of painful if you also happen to be roundish, but I don’t think “not being painful” was a priority in this process.
In a nutshell, calling someone fat does not mean that objectively they have a fat body. It means they are stupid, worthless, less than. No longer attractive. No longer worth our respect or consideration.
The reason that it’s so hard to argue with the insult of being fat is because it’s not an objective fact you’re arguing against – it’s the idea that you are less than now. You can’t argue with facts because this argument isn’t rational. Just like you can’t argue with a racial slur. Or being called a bitch. It’s the reason that in middle schools and dressing rooms around the nation you hear frantic protests of “no you’re not!” when women complain about their weight – because being fat isn’t about your body. It’s about being awful. And we have to frantically fight against the idea and provide reassurance, not about your body, but that you’re still worth something.