Big Questions: Do You Call Yourself Fat?

It’s another installment of Big Questions, Chubstr’s advice column written by none other than Zach Miko. Zach answers your questions about body image, sex, relationships, self love and more. Read past articles by clicking here. Have a question you’d like to get answered? Click here to send it to us and Zach might answer it in a future episode.

Anonymous: Do you think of yourself as fat? Do you call yourself a fat person?

Dear Anonymous,

This isn’t normally the kind of question I answer. When Bruce and I started this column, we made it a point never to answer personal questions and to stick to helping readers with what’s happening in their own lives. But your question piqued my interest, and I think it’s an important thing to talk about, the word Fat.

To answer your question plainly, yes. I am a fat person. Do I think of myself as fat? No, not really, because I don’t have to think about it, I just am. I can already feel people wincing through the computer screen, but I am not insulting myself, I am describing myself. We have been conditioned our whole lives to think of fat as an insult, and when I call myself fat, so many well meaning people always jump to correct me, saying

“You’re not fat. I don’t see you as fat. You’re a big guy but I don’t think you’re fat” etc. etc. etc.

Through my own journey in life, I have come to accept and love the word fat.

As a younger person one of my greatest fears was being labeled as fat. No comment cut me deeper. When I was 5 years old I knew that being fat was bad. No one taught me this, it was never flat out said to me, but I knew it was true, same way I knew the sky was blue, it just was. Fat was bad, Skinny was good. I lived my whole life believing this, and because I was always a fat kid, I hated myself for it. I had no self-worth, because every day I felt like a failure. I was failing to be skinny, so I wasn’t worthy of love or admiration or respect, because I was a bad thing. This lead to decades of dieting, abusing diet pills, and disordered eating.

Then I got lucky. I went to theater school. I had always been drawn to acting, because when I was acting I didn’t have to be myself. After dropping out of traditional college, I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. During my graduation plays I had a director named Brad, who could tell I was being guarded in my work. He took me aside and said,

“You know it’s ok to be the big guy. People will like you as a big guy.”

This simple sentenced was a massive turning point in my life. It made a tiny crack in my idea of what it meant to be a fat person. It was ok to be big? This went against everything. It was my first step towards learning to love myself.

I think I look damn good in my size 42, and my friends look damn good in their size 52’s and 62’s.

Not long after I found out about the idea Body Positivity online. Not loving yourself in spite of being fat, loving yourself AND being fat.

I have learned that fat is not an insult, it is just a description. I hold more fat on my body than some people, and that is fine. There is nothing I cannot do as a fat person. The only thing I cannot do is fit into a size 32 pair of jeans, but I think I look damn good in my size 42, and my friends look damn good in their size 52’s and 62’s. I refuse to accept that skinny is the only way to be a valid human being anymore.

The word fat has also brought me a lot of comradery and friendship. People who are fat, or have ever been fat at one point in their life, have a million shared experiences with one another. We know the pain other big people have experienced in their life, and we know we won’t be judged around fellow big people. We know that other fat people will understand us.

Now this was my journey. I know that not everyone feels comfortable being called fat yet. The word fat was used as a weapon against people of size for so long that for some people the word still holds a lot of power over them. Everyone’s journey is different. Some people will never feel comfortable with the word fat, and that’s fine. Fat, big, curvy, fluffy, voluptuous, hefty, large, whatever adjective you want to use just remember that that is exactly what they are, adjectives. These words hold no more power over you than the word “green” holds power over my shirt.

I am a fat person who is happy, loyal, funny, kind, loving, compassionate, intelligent, outdoorsy, honest, trustworthy, adventurous, and driven. Choose your own adjectives. You get to write your own biography. Who knows, it may end up a best seller.