Friday, February 6, 2015

Claire Sterling on Labels - an excerpt from Fat Girl

Claire writes a newspaper column. Here is one of them:

The Reinvention by Claire Sterling
I would like to take a moment to discuss with you my feelings about Fat Labels. I have pretty strong feelings about this topic having spent so much of my life as a card-carrying member of the Fat Alliance. Of course, there’s no such thing, but there really should be. Can you imagine how much we could accomplish if we all stuck together? It’s called inertia, people. Once we got all that mass moving, how could we possibly be stopped?

How many of you use the term BBW to describe yourself? Or maybe you prefer the terms “voluptuous,” "plus-size," “curvy,” “thick” or “fluffy.” I’m here to tell you this: YOU ARE FAT. Those other terms are just euphemisms. Yet they’re not really flattering when you think about it. And they’re certainly not descriptive. A good label actually tells a person what to expect, and none of those truly fit the bill. I’m going to take a moment to outline the problems with these labels:

BBW: For those of you who have been living under a rock (or maybe at the gym), this one means Big Beautiful Woman. I hate to break it to the ladies who use this term, but you’re not all beautiful. As a matter of fact, some of y’all are downright ugly. That second B doesn’t just magically happen because of the first one, or even in spite of it. And conversely, being thin doesn’t make someone beautiful either. There are loads of ugly skinny chicks out there. Just as beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, so does ugly.

Plus-Size: What the fashion industry really means by “plus-size” is “less.” Not “less is more,” but “more is less.” They can’t even agree on what plus-size is except for it being inferior to “regular sizes.” I’ve seen many sources claiming the “average” American woman wears a size 14 or 16, and by most standards, THOSE are “plus sizes.” So maybe we should start calling sizes 0-10 “minus sizes.” I don’t see that one ever happening! But I digress. If you’re buying into the Fashion Industry Bullshit by using the term “plus size” to describe yourself, then you’re basically admitting that you’re not as good as someone who wears a single digit. You are you: not more or less than anyone else. Just you.

Voluptuous: This is just the fun-to-say (and unfortunately, mispronounce – newsflash: there’s NO “M”) cousin of the elitist-sounding “rubensque.” Has anyone ever painted your nude portrait in oils? Then no. Just no.

Curvy: I actually think curvy is an excellent descriptor. However, I don’t believe rolls of fat rippling down your body is what anyone envisions when they hear the word “curvy.” Don’t have an hourglass figure? Then you don’t get to call yourself curvy. Sorry.

Thick: Thick was originally an insult for people who are stupid. Is that really how you want to describe yourself?

Fluffy: Sheep are fluffy. People are not. Unless they have a serious body hair issue.

What’s unfortunate is we have turned the best, most descriptive label for People of Size into a bad word. And speaking of “People of Size,” um, really? We are all “People of Size,” the sizes are just different. And besides, since People of Color is now commonly abbreviated POC, I pretty much feel “People of Size” may even be crueler than calling someone fat. Just like Promiscuous Nymphos (you go, girls!) are reclaiming the word “slut,” I want to reclaim the word “fat” for all of us who have a little more meat on our bones. It’s not meat, of course. It’s fat. Which is why we should just use the word. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it works.

Just call me fat.