Why I stopped using the “F” word
The sheer STRENGTH and POWER of our words has become increasingly obvious to me over the past few years. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me… or will they? I would argue yes. The “F” word… “fat”… is one that I think needs to be re-evaluated.
Let’s start with what fat is. Fat is a macronutrient. It is a necessary part of a healthy diet, and serves many functions in our bodies. Fat is broken down and used as a source of energy when additional energy is needed, and it is stored when we eat more than what our bodies require. In excess, fat can be harmful to our vital organs and our health.
So, we know what fat is, but we don’t often use the word “fat” to talk about what fat is. More often, we use the word “fat” as an adjective, a feeling, a descriptor, a comparison.
What if we used it just as a word, one not associated with judgement and bias? What if we talked about ourselves and others using words that truly describe who and what we are? Maybe by finding and using words that describe the uniqueness of each and every person, we could avoid the focus and stigma that is so often placed on body size. Words like “vibrant,” “brunette,” “compassionate,” “hard worker,” tell us way more about someone than his or her body size tells us.
While I was with a friend at a drug store a few weeks ago, she received assistance from a sales associate before she took her purchases to the till. When she placed her items on the counter, the cashier asked who had helped her find her items. Not having spent more than a few moments with the sales associate, my friend admitted she didn’t know the name of the person who had helped her, but it was one of the nice ladies in the cosmetics department. The response that came next blew us away: “Was it the chubby one?” To which my socially aware and empathetic friend replied, “I’m not sure who you are referring to, but a friendly lady with bright eyes and brown hair was most helpful.”
We walked away from that encounter thinking about how “normal” it has become to use body size to describe people, and about the impact those few words had on us and most certainly on the cosmetics department sales associate that day.
If you need to reference someone’s body size, do so with respect. For example, a person living in a larger body, or a person with a slender build. Perhaps we also use negative body talk about ourselves, and could benefit from finding new words, mantras, and ways to change those internal conversations as well.
Changing our mindset by looking at the strength and power of our words can help us with other aspects of our health and well-being too. A simple word swap from “I have to,” to “I get to” can completely change the meaning and tone of a conversation.
I think the following quotation sums up the topic completely:
There is great value in attaining and maintaining a percentage of body fat that supports overall health and well-being, but let’s agree to use positive and supportive language in our journey to achieve it.
This conversation is one that your coach at FitMetabolism would be happy to continue during your next session. We look forward to seeing you soon!