Dear Media

Those of us in the “fatosphere” are not offended by the word “fat.” Which is why we did not call it the “overweightosphere” or the “pleasantlyplumposphere” or the “fluffosphere” or the “spherosphere,” although that last one would have been kind of awesome.

We are offended when people use the word “fat” as a synonym for lazy, sloppy, undisciplined, stupid, smelly, repulsive, ugly, mentally ill, rude, ignorant, and/or morally suspect. ‘Cause that’s just overloading a perfectly good word with ridiculous stereotypes.

We are not, however, offended when people call us fat, meaning “fat.” Psst, we own mirrors. Cat’s out of the bag.

If the word “fat” is loaded down with all those other meanings for you, then maybe you ought to do a little soul-searching instead of assuming we would rather be described in either absurdly euphemistic or medical terms. And maybe you really, really shouldn’t write shit about how we all claim we’re “just big-boned” and take umbrage at your fearless honesty in calling us “fat,” ’cause that’s just piss-poor fact checking, right there.

Not everyone involved with the fatosphere is fat, but those of us who are fat are fat. Meaning “fat.” Kindly make a note of it.

Love,

Kate

P.S. I actually have very small bones. Covered in muscle and fat.

65 thoughts on “Dear Media

  1. I am both big-boned and fat, as determined by that whole “frame-size” test, plus my demonstrably broad pelvis and ribcage. But the fat? Is definitely fat.

  2. I actually have very small bones. Covered in muscle and fat.

    Hee! I actually don’t know the size of my bones. I can’t see them under all this fatty tissue. Although I suspect, given that I have shoulders like Bronko Nagurski’s, that I might be a “large build” person. But who gives a shit, really? That’s so not the point of any of this. The point is that I got another opportunity to type “Bronko Nagurski.”

  3. Does anyone remember the episode of The Office when Michael asks Oscar his ethnicity, Oscar says that he’s Mexican, and Michael asks him if he’d like to be called something less offensive? Yep, it’s kinda like that.

  4. I’d so totally prefer to be called fat than obese, because of all the medical terminology and crap associated with being ‘obese’. I’m not thin, I’m fat. I’m probably somewhere around the ‘average’ woman, but that’s still ‘fat’, right? ;)

  5. Red Queen is a big FAT girl. yep. No hiding it in stupid quasi medical terms like overweight. Over what weight? I’m certainly over the weight of say a sparrow or a baby donut. But I am under the weight of a volkswagon bug or most professional football players.

  6. Can I totally add my name to that signature?

    And the undersigned,
    Time-Machine

    INCOMPLETELYUNRELATEDNEWS: The new episode of Doctor Who just appeared online! It will not escape me!

    In somewhat related news: The villain in the episode is name “The Adipose”, which worries me a bit…Adipose???

  7. Yeah, “fat” really just means a particular kind of tissue. It can be genuinely made neutral. But a medical term like “overweight” can only ever mean that you weigh too much.

    I hate the word “overweight” and when I am trying to talk about fat acceptance issues, use it as little as possible. I feel like people hear it and think “overweight means, by definition, too much weight” and then just stop thinking there. If I need to talk about the “overweight” “category” specifically”, I usually talk about “people with a BMI greater than 25” to try and emphasize the arbitrary nature of the BMI system

    aha, now that I finish reading the rest of the thread…Red Queen, exactly. Someone may be “over” say, my weight, but that doesn’t mean they weigh any more than what their body is built to be.

    “scare” “quotes,” “wheeee!”

    also I would totally support the spherosphere. It is awesome.
    And I might not be fat or big-boned, but my ass is pretty spherical.

  8. Please, report on the Adipose! I can’t watch the episode here, but from what I gather on the web, it’s an army of little white creatures that are born from belly fat that people are trying to lose through diet pills.

    An army of fat! They’ll teach them about fat acceptance!

  9. I had to give a friend a mini-talking to about two weeks ago because I finished a sentence with “…I’m fat” and she immediately disputed it. Her argument consisted of the fact that my stomach did not stick out further than my boobs. And this is a very with-it, anti-dieting, pro-food, pro-bodies chick! I told her flat out that I was lucky in that if that was the criteria, my rack of doom would keep it such that I might never make it to “fat” – and I told her flat out that once you can’t buy straight sizes, the world considers you fat no matter how far your stomach sticks out. I was a minute from busting out my stats, but she conceded my point and we moved on to talking about how retarded artificial sugars are.

    I think step one is still using the word fat often and calmly, without judgment or self-deprecation.

  10. And clothing stores please, stop this “plus” sized thing “women’s” sizes works just fine.

  11. Look up the word “fat” in the dictionary. It means all kinds of good things.

    For example (from dictionary.com):

    profitable
    affording good opportunities
    wealthy, prosperous, rich
    plentiful
    abundant

    and my favorite…

    the richest or best part of anything!

  12. Yeah, Sass, my boobs are bigger than my stomach too, but that’s not because my stomach is small, it’s because I have Titties For Days. And when I gain weight, guess where it goes first? So lucky me, by that definition I’ll never, ever be fat! (I’ll also never, ever be able to spend less than $80 on a bra. BUT I’LL BE SKINNY!)

  13. Actually, I don’t know why anything has to be designated “plus” or “women’s” at all. (Anyway, why are only sizes 14+ considered “women’s” sizes? Are women smaller than that not women?) I’d be happy if they just gave the size range. (Oh, and standardized the sizes, too, but don’t get me started on that.)

  14. Yeah, I definitely took back the use of the word fat when I was in college. Me and another one of my friends who is fat use it in a positive way to describe ourselves, it’s pretty fun. Our thinner friends don’t know what to make of it sometimes.

  15. Does anyone remember the episode of The Office when Michael asks Oscar his ethnicity, Oscar says that he’s Mexican, and Michael asks him if he’d like to be called something less offensive? Yep, it’s kinda like that.

    Ha! I didn’t see that. And it’s perfect.

  16. mewoser, it can help to define amount of curve, in theory junior is less curvy than miss and womens is more curvy still, so I can see having a large range of sizing in the different categories to help determine FIT of the clothes ……

    standardization of sizes is a joke, I think maybe we should bring back custom tailors and seamstress’ somehow….

  17. Seamstresses and custom tailors still exist, they’re just frackin’ expensive. I do wish I could sew, though (more than buttons). But if they are going to have off the rack clothing, it’s kind of a joke (and not a very funny one) to have to try on five sizes of everything that might fit before I find something that does. And forget ordering online unless I’ve tried it on before. The size charts are ALWAYS WRONG.

  18. Please, report on the Adipose! I can’t watch the episode here, but from what I gather on the web, it’s an army of little white creatures that are born from belly fat that people are trying to lose through diet pills.

    An army of fat! They’ll teach them about fat acceptance!

    The Adipose are freaking adorable. I died of the cute. And yes, they are born from people using diet pills, that are actually part of a breeding project by an alien species. The adipose themselves aren’t the bad guys, just the people breeding them – and taking the lives of unwitting dieters in the process! Oh no!

    BUT THE EPISODE WAS AWESOME. I am so full of squee at the moment.

    And okay, there was one point where the villain mentions that it took time to find a planet and country with “so much obesity” which made me roll my eyes, but I think overall the diet industry was painted as the bad guy.

    And, again, the Adipose were adorable. How could you not love fat when it looks so cute?

    AND THERE WAS A TWIST AT THE ENDING THAT MADE ME SCREAM AND BOUNCE UP AND DOWN!

    But I’m also certain it’ll be episodes and episodes before it’s properly explained! Damn foreshadowing, getting me all excited!

    WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! <3

  19. Yes, spherosphere! I am in favor.

    I am going to try to learn to sew, so that I can alter stuff myself plus make things. I am a little disappointed that a lot of the pattern sizes top out at 22 or 24 ready-to-wear.

  20. I’m fat, and I’m not really proud of that fact, but I’m not ashamed. I’ve always struggled with my weight, so by now I’m used to it.

  21. The Adipose are freaking adorable. I died of the cute.

    I KNOW! Al and I just watched, and they kilt me ded. (Here they are, for anyone who’s wondering.) I was so ready to HATE this episode, but I ended up loving it and not even being slightly offended once. Hallelujah.

    I wonder if they actually took criticism of the Absorbaloff episode seriously. I can’t imagine any other show doing that storyline without making the fat creatures repulsive and the fat characters ridiculous-because-they’re-fat (as opposed to ridiculous-because-they’re-ridiculous, which a couple were)–and in fact, until I watched, I couldn’t imagine this show doing it so well, either. Fucking awesome.

  22. When I was about eight, I took ballet and tap class. I was talking about a particular classmate to my mother and said, “She’s the fat one.” I doubt I meant it any differently than “she’s the redhead.” But I remember my mom telling me that fat was not a nice way to describe someone. I asked what I should say, and she told me to use heavyset or overweight. Ironic.

  23. My dad is always telling me that i should go to the gym more (sorry guys, i hate working out) because i should “get in shape”. He uses “get in shape” as a nice way of saying your getting fat you should loose weight. To this i always answer “I am in shape, a circle is a shape too”. I don’t think he thinks it is funny, but then again i don’t think his criticism is appropriate so it all evens out.

  24. Yeah, it’s almost impossible to get people to use the word “fat” instead of obese (unless they’re openly bashing.) This is not the obesosphere. There’s a reason for that. I hate the fucking term as much as anyone, and consider it completely derogatory. Screw “wired.”

  25. The Adipose are freaking adorable. I died of the cute.
    See, people? Fat can be cute! And a popular TV show is telling us this!

    Okay, I might be reading a bit too much into that, but I’m to excited about the return of Doctor Who to care.

  26. I was on a 7 week temp job that just ended on Friday. Well, the whole thing was kind of a breeding ground of diet talk, by size 0’s who were 21 (and I’m going to be 41 in 3 weeks, eep!). Anyway, I made it an opportunity to describe myself as fat as often as possible, it was really interesting. I was told, no, you’re not fat, you have porcelain skin and gorgeous (dyed) red hair. Yes I do, thank you, but I am ALSO FAT!!! It was really weird. I’m glad I’m out of there. Next temp job starts Monday, anyone want to go to lunch with someone who lives in the Chicago loop, let me know!!!!!

  27. mshell67- I worked the same kind of temp job last summer with a bunch of girls whining about being too fat at size 2. It was nauseating at best. They were also whining about how there are no good guys left. I think it blew their mind that I date as much as i do (and I don’t date dumb or poor- so lots of lawyers and doctors)

  28. You know, I got fit for a bra yesterday for the first time ever. Turns out I’ve been wearing a too-big band. Since I was TWELVE, since that’s the size I’ve been since then. I don’t carry a lot of fat on my ribcage, and I’m pretty sure the circumference of the bones themselves hasn’t changed, so… yeah, embarrassing.

    Anyway, point of the story? Bras are the one thing for women that, theoretically, have a standard sizing. 34″ is 34″, 40″ is 40″, etc. And yet, even still, when I tried on bras in my new size, some were too snug and some were too loose. Measuring tape = NOT COMPLICATED. Argh.

    I happened to walk through the women’s section of Macy’s, too, and WTF, why are all the clothes so hideous? It’s like acknowledging that women with actual woman-flesh might be wearing the clothes grosses out designers and they just go for thick fabric and frump.

    I guess I can kind of see where putting clothes for fuller figures together is theoretically less frustrating for the shopper. I think this is a case of separate-not-being-equal, though. I mean, hell, I generally wear about an 8, and I still have to try things on to make sure they won’t cut funny or cause me to spill out of them, etc. It’s a body shape and proportion thing, it’s not like someone who wears a 16+ magically doesn’t have to do the same because they split up the sections.

    Maybe instead of “women’s” and “misses'” (ugh), they could organize stores by shapes–you know, like swimsuits in L.L. Bean or whichever catalog that is? Square, Triangle, Star, Circle… that might be better. And less frustrating.

  29. See, people? Fat can be cute! And a popular TV show is telling us this!

    Okay, I might be reading a bit too much into that

    I, for one, don’t think you are. Or at least, I am, too. When the first little adipose creature was escaping from the woman’s body, I was sitting there going, “Oh shit,” just waiting for it to be some nasty, yellow, oozing, evil thing. When the little guy landed in the sink and made adorable squeaky noises and WAVED, I laughed my fucking ass off and was so relieved.

    I suppose saying the take-away message is “fat can be cute” might be an overstatement, but the important thing to me is that they did NOT go with the “fat is disgusting” message. Neither the fat people nor the fat creatures were presented as icky or loathsome. That alone put this episode miles above any other pop-culture treatment of fat I can think of, sadly.

  30. I worked the same kind of temp job last summer with a bunch of girls whining about being too fat at size 2. It was nauseating at best. They were also whining about how there are no good guys left. I think it blew their mind that I date as much as i do (and I don’t date dumb or poor- so lots of lawyers and doctors)

    I obviously can’t say anything about the place you worked – but personally I learned that when thin women comment that they are too fat it does not necessarily mean that they think negatively about me or my truly fat body. Negative body talk is a) a form of bonding (very unfortunate) and b) often based on actual (twisted) self-perception (which is even more unfortunate) and nothing more.

    Uh, yes, and count me among the Doctor Who fans.

  31. Squeee! I haven’t watched Dr. Who, so I’m sure I’d be lost if I tried to wtach this episode. But seriously

    The Adipose == New Mascot

  32. I refer to Lane Bryant as “the fat girl store” because to my mind it is.

    I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times someone has implored me to not refer to it as such.

    I’m Alyce and I’m fat.

  33. I obviously can’t say anything about the place you worked – but personally I learned that when thin women comment that they are too fat it does not necessarily mean that they think negatively about me or my truly fat body.

    Agreed, Queendom, but they should still have the decency to stop thinking about themselves for 2 minutes and consider how their words affect other people.

  34. What I hate is when I say something about fat and the person I’m talking to pipes in hurriedly with, “Oh, you’re not fat — you’re pretty!”

    Um, yes. I am pretty. And also? Fat. The opposite of “fat” is not “pretty;” the two are not exclusive, and being one doesn’t preclude being the other.

    It blows people’s minds, though, this idea that someone who is fat can be pretty. I spent a lot of time arguing about it a few months ago, and now my friends and family seem to have changed it up — I don’t hear the pretty argument anymore, but I am suddenly hearing the “shut up, you’re not THAT fat” thing all the time.

    Jesus, kids. It’s not an insult; it’s a descriptor. When I mention being redheaded nobody jumps all over me with “but you’re not a slut” or “your temper isn’t THAT bad,” so I really wish everyone could remember that the definition of fat and the stereotypes associated with it are similarly unrelated.

  35. Agreed, Queendom, but they should still have the decency to stop thinking about themselves for 2 minutes and consider how their words affect other people.

    True, Kate, but I think that’s a common mistake all kinds of people tend to make (and I have certainly made it myself). I am willing to excuse ignorance as long as the ignorant are willing to be educated.

  36. I’m so glad you all have weighed in (ha!) on the Doctor Who. I’m waiting for the US debut, and from what I’d heard I was ready to be really upset by that episode. Glad to know I can still keep my Doctor love on, especially now that Torchwood seems to have jumped the shark.

  37. Okay, I would totally take a diet pill if it resulted in an adorable wee creature like that. Could I keep it as a pet? (I haven’t watched the episode yet. Exams preclude television.)

    But yeah. I am fat. And I don’t have a problem with that. Sure, I am also curvaceous and zaftig and plump and all of those things. But really? Fat. There’s no other word for it when you’re 5’4″ and 255.

  38. Queendom- I’m sure part of it is the negative bonding, but there was also a shitload of fat hate directed at other people. If they had stuck to complaining about themselves it would be one thing, but commenting about the size of other people’s asses pretty much negates any good will I might need to feel for them.

  39. Glad to know I can still keep my Doctor love on, especially now that Torchwood seems to have jumped the shark.

    And by “jumped the shark” you mean “totally made Time-Machine cry a lot”, right?

    Granted – it does leave me worried for next season…

  40. I refer to Lane Bryant as “the fat girl store” because to my mind it is.

    I have a friend who refers to it as “the Fat Gap”. I would, except I can’t shop there (for myself — I suppose I’m allowed to walk into the store any damn day I please and buy something for a friend), so I feel funny calling it anything but its name.

  41. “Fat” is a good old-fashioned Old English word, whose etymology is interesting: OE fǣtt, orig. ptp. of fǣtan to cram, load, adorn; c. Goth fétjan to adorn; (from http://www.dictionary.com.)

    In other words, if you are fat, you are *adorned* – which means to be decorated favorably, to be made more beautiful.

  42. Okay, so I have a question about this terminology subject. I’m happy to see a word like ‘fat’ reclaimed so it’s just being used in a descriptive way without any moral baggage or judgment. I’m also really glad to learn things I might not have noticed on my own, e.g. that words like ‘obese’ feel offensive to a lot of people. But I’m not fat, and most of the people I talk to and spend time with are not Shapelings, so if I start throwing around the word fat in what I intend to be a non-judgmental way, people are surely going to take that the wrong way.

    See BMI project: my BMI is something like 16.5, and nothing I do ever changes my weight or body shape. I probably couldn’t get more thin privileged. I really want and try to be conscious of that. But so far I don’t feel like it’s acceptable (or a good idea) for *me* to use the word fat to describe people (I’m thinking about discussions of fat people as a group, not even descriptions of individuals, which feels even more charged). I don’t cringe when a self-identified fat person uses the word, but I cringe at using it myself – entirely because I know that would be the skinny girl saying it.

    So what I’m asking is what terminology a person in my position, who reads Shapely Prose all the time and really wants to be size positive (without appropriating, if possible), should and could use when this subject comes up in conversation (off the internet). If this seems like a good subject, I’d be up for submitting this to Aunt Fattie, too!

  43. I have liked the term obese since I started saying it wrong. Old beast. As in ” I was a morbid old beast, but I starting my summer bike riding and now I’m just a boring old beast.” I’m doing a series of paintings and drawings of “morbid old beasts”. When my magical BMI skooches into overweight it’s disappointing, since I haven’t come up with a fun way to screw around with that word, except the “over who’s weight?’ question.

  44. Lynne, it’s great that you are thinking about this stuff, but personally *I* don’t mind if you call fat people “fat.” I mean, we’re trying to redefine the idea that the word itself is a pejorative, no more so than “short” or “bald,” so I don’t think that applies any less to you than it does to anyone else. But it’s interesting that it’s probably thin people who’d have the biggest “gasp” reaction to you saying the word, like, “that’s not nice!” But if you just can’t, hey, you could always just describe a fat person by some other physical characteristic of theirs, like, “the one with that really cool hat,” or, “pink-haired Jennifer.”

  45. To Red Queen and mshell67 . I have been on the thin side my whole life. But despite my actual size i have days where i feel horribly ugly. On those days I may say derogatory things about myself. I try desperately hard to keep the fat talk to a minimum because i don’t think society needs my help solidifying its fat phobia, and i understand that people larger than me may take it as an insult, but sometimes on an ugly day I just need to vent. But i would like you to know that on those days i am not comparing myself to the others around me in any way meant to bring others down, So maybe it can be a compromise. I will keep my bitching about my size to a minimum in consideration of your feelings, and on the really bad days where i need to vent i hope you can give me some slack and understand that i just need a kind word and possibly a hug.

    And of course i mean this as a theoretical proposition, not literally about me and you, but as a truce between females everywhere. I think the understanding has to go both ways.

  46. Bras are the one thing for women that, theoretically, have a standard sizing. 34″ is 34″, 40″ is 40″, etc. And yet, even still, when I tried on bras in my new size, some were too snug and some were too loose. Measuring tape = NOT COMPLICATED. Argh.

    I know, right? I normally wear a 36″ band but I’ve tried on bras in that size that are way too loose in the band even on the tightest setting, and bras in that size that I can’t even do up on the largest setting. They’re supposed to all be 36″! So yeah, I don’t think going to a clothing size based on waist measurement would solve anything. Just because it says the waistband measures 40″ doesn’t mean it actually will.

  47. Meowser, that’s a good suggestion. My concern isn’t offending the thin folks, either, but maybe fat folks who aren’t comfortable with the reclamation of the word (yet?). I also don’t think that *all* thin people uncomfortable with the word personally fear fat like it’s the worst thing ever. Some are genuinely sensitive to how stigmatized it is and want to be compassionate, but they aren’t sure how, so they avoid the word (and the subject) to avoid making anyone *else* feel bad.

    In any case, I was thinking of situations where fatness is the subject of conversation, rather than just identifying people by a certain characteristic. I don’t think I generally say, ‘Oh, she’s the fat one!’ though clearly, I could do that. :)

  48. Lynne, that totally sounds like an Aunt Fattie question to me! It’s a good one, so we might as well bring it to the top and let everyone weigh in.

  49. So I don’t really have anything to add except a funny story from last week.

    I was out with a girl from my office and we were talking about birth control, and I told her that I’ve been on Depo Provera since I was 17, she asked if I had any side effects and I shrugged and said “I think it might be why I’m fat” she’s like “you’re not fat at all, you must weight like, 130lbs?”

    At which point I LAUGHED and laughed and was barely able to squeak out “try 190”

    It just goes to show how little concept people have of what a particular weight looks like… people look at me and don’t think I weight close to 200 lbs because 200 lbs is ZOMG SO FAT AND UNHEELTHEEEEE. But I am… so… there.

  50. To RedQueen, who won’t “date dumb or poor”…

    You won’t date a poor person?

    Poor does not equate to “lazy”, “stupid”, or “selfish”, as anyone with a passion for a low-paying field (social work, nursing, much research science, etc) will tell you. And even if a person does work a typical blue-collar hard labor job, it doesn’t mean a damn thing. I hope that no one here rejects possible romantic partners for nothing more than their earning potential.

    Rawr.

  51. Who uses fat to mean “mentally ill”? Besides, having a mental illness is no worse than being fat. It’s just a trait that some people have and other people are critical of.

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