In the entirety of my teenage and adult life, I’ve never once considered myself to be skinny.
I’ve never worn shorts to the gym or a bikini to the beach. I’ve never bought a crop top, a mini skirt, a bodycon dress or any other piece of clothing requiring a minimal amount of fabric.
Why? I just haven’t.
It’s not that I can’t or that I shouldn’t, but because I personally don’t feel comfortable wearing them.
When I saw that Facebook had added ‘fat’ as a feeling to their status updates, it infuriated me, because ‘fat’ isn’t a feeling. It’s not something for a thin person to feel after eating too much food or not fitting into a size 6 dress (*queue tiny violin playing*). You can feel bloated, uncomfortable, tight…yes. But fat? No.
Unless you have personally been overweight for a significant portion of time, you could not possibly understand, no matter how hard you might try, to know what it’s like to “feel fat”.
And here’s why: “feeling fat” and being fat are two incredibly different things.
Yes, I too have had days where I’ve felt “fatter” than others, but that stems down to feeling bloated or disgusting, mostly through certain food choices. But actually being fat is a whole different ball game, and it has consumed a large portion of my life.
It influences nearly every decision I make and has played on every single insecurity since well before high school. Every time I pick up a piece of clothing I think, is this even going to suit me? Every time I eat something slightly unhealthy, should I really be eating this? plagues my judgement and gnaws away at me. And these aren’t sporadic thoughts; they occur on a regular basis.
It’s something I live with every single day. Is it a choice? Hell no! No one wants to be fat, but for me it’s come down to poor minute decisions – unintentionally eating 100 calories a day more than my body’s natural metabolic rate can counter during the important developmental years, having poor sleeping habits, and not liking exercise at all has definitely been a contributing factor.
But weight gain and being overweight isn’t a simple one-dimensional, black and white issue – it’s damn complicated. It’s a combination of genetic makeup (of which I drew the short straw), hormonal controls, diet composition, and lifestyle choices (sleep, exercise, stress). Not to mention a person’s mentality. It’s as much of a mental issue as it is a physical one.
A petition has been posted on Change.org asking Facebook to remove “fat” from the list of options. In part, the petition reads:
As someone who has struggled with and overcome disordered eating, I know what it’s like to “feel” fat. I have spent years of my life consumed with negative thoughts about my body, and far too many days starving myself in an effort to lose weight. But even worse than the skipped meals and the hours spent obsessing in front of the mirror was the fear of what others thought about me and my body.
When Facebook users set their status to “feeling fat,” they are making fun of people who consider themselves to be overweight, which can include many people with eating disorders. That is not ok.
As a recent Huffington Post article pointed out, the “feeling fat” option is far from harmless. It trivialises peoples experiences with weight, and “encourages people to put out body-negative ideas and have other people validate that”. While some users may see it as harmless, to me it’s insulting.
So next time you “feel fat”, please reconsider and think of another word to use, because ‘fat’ isn’t a feeling. It’s not a choice you can select from a drop-down menu.
‘Fat’ is a state of being.