The 3 Letter Word and What it Means to Me

Three letters. So powerful.
Or is it?

I know the power of words. I use them everyday. I make a living from putting them together in pretty patterns. Words can save lives, hurt feelings, educate, make people laugh, make people cry, cause wars, invoke injury, death – you name it. A word is often times not just a word. The word “Fat” is a particularly interesting one because of its loaded meaning. As a little girl, fat was the worst word in the world. It was that thing you never wanted to be – the word that was whispered in hush tones, the ultimate failure, the sad word that caused bad eye contact and blushing cheeks. But now – fat is just fat to me. It’s a jiggly tummy, it’s the draping skin of my arm. It’s soft and plush and a place for my husband to rest his head. It’s yummy meal after yummy meal. It’s a part of me, and maybe one day it won’t be, but for now, fat is fat. I’m not going to let it have the power over me that it used to. There was worse things in life than being fat.

First Progress Picture - 48 pounds to go!

Some people disagree with me. That’s fine. It’s not their battle to fight. It’s mine – and for now, fat and I are kind of like acquaintances, neighbors. We’re not friends, but we live in the same neighborhood and we gotta make it work for the time being, ya know? We’ve known each other for a very long time.

That picture up there was taken a few minutes ago in my backyard. When I look at it I might think “fat”, but it’s not out of hatred. It’s just me. It’s 5 feet, 9 inches of strong, capable body, courageous and maternal heart, creative and powerful brain. I see a confident woman,  a happy woman, somebody who believes in the power of her brain and personality, and yes, even her good looks. I see me – happy, successful me, who’s graduated college with honors, married an awesome guy, started a wonderful career, and is working on making peace with her rambling and random mind.

So, I’m fat. So be it. Fat is fat. It is what it is, and I’m working on losing it to be a healther version of the Me that I already know and love. So I can have a family and keep up with ’em, so I can hike up a mountain overlooking the valley without huffing and puffing. So I can react to stressful situations without a scary spike in blood pressure, and so I can go on airplanes and roller coasters without fretting about a tight belt. So I can buy cute dresses and flattering swimsuits.

Fat is mean, scary, unfair, and unhealthy, but it’s also just fat. Three letters. Not so powerful to me, anymore.

What does fat mean to you?


7 thoughts on “The 3 Letter Word and What it Means to Me

  1. To me, ‘fat’ has been appropriated into our language as an identifier (much like ‘gay’). These are both human things that for many centuries were no more important a part of a person than anything else (check out Foucault’s History of Sexuality)—they weren’t an identity in and of themselves. Yet, our culture has decided that these are at the forefront of a person’s identity and therefore the only thing we need to see before making judgments.

    After visiting the Getty Museum and seeing all sorts of zoftig female sex symbols, I was reassured that (hopefully) this cultural obsession is nothing but a fad (albeit a pretty lame one) and soon people will make unfair judgments about others for some other equally lame reason (tall people perhaps? brunettes?)

    Til then, fat is what keeps me warm, cushions my butt when I fall ice-skating, and is what makes salmon sashimi so damn delicious.

  2. Fat to me is a feeling more than a physical thing. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s just a feeling. And when I look at that picture of you, I don’t see fat. I see a beautiful, happy lady. 🙂

  3. It’s funny because I read this at an interesting time.
    My aunt (mother’s sister) was in town, so we got a family reunion of sorts. I thought to myself, “Now, why haven’t I been calling my family lately? Getting us all together for dinner? Just having chats on the phone?” Then I remembered.
    “Someone’s got a sweet tooth, huh?” my aunt said to me as I ate HALF of a cookie. (OK, it was a big cookie, but still!) It doesn’t sound like a real criticism when I read it, so I suppose it was the “you’re a chubby girl” tone dripping off of the words when she said it. All of the back-handed compliments and critiques from high school came rushing back, including when she advised me: “Heather, if you step on the scale, maybe that will be a little motivation to lose weight.”
    (Mind you, I’ve never weighed beyond 20 pounds more than I weight now.)
    My other aunt came over for a visit as well. The first thing my mother said to her? “Gosh, you’ve gained some weight! Did you get a butt implant?” And that became the topic of the evening. I avoid family members so that I don’t have to get sucked into their negative, passive aggressive, I’m-making-a-joke-but-I’m-really-not humor. I realized I was raised by a very insecure family. An idea of a joke to them is a jab disguised in comedic sauce, making for some knee-slapping fun at the current victim’s expense.
    It took me so long to be OK with myself, feel good about myself, and one evening with my family picks away at that scab until it flakes and starts bleeding again. (So dramatic, I know!)
    Family should fill you up–not knock you down.
    I think this time I’ll be all right because I can finally recognize that their criticisms stem from their own insecurities about themselves.
    And now you know why I was in WW.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *