More often than not, most weeks, with the work we do at The British Obesity Society and personally I do with School Health UK, I'm asked to contribute on the radio - being asked for thoughts on the current state of our country and it seems more often than not, the presenter is almost 'shocked' at my ease of the word 'FAT', reacting as though I should have cleared it with them before hand - after all it's rare anyone wants to chat about obesity after the 9pm watershed...
Most recently, Shelagh Fogarty said, in a conversation, regarding the amount of sugar being consumed by children on a daily basis - which is inevitably making them fat:
"But surely the word 'fat' is offensive?"
Huh? When did that happen? When did this descriptor become so offensive?
It made me curious, is this the new 'F-WORD?'
Have our bodies become so shame ridden that we cannot even utter the word to describe certain types of bodies? Have fat bodies become unspeakable, their very existence denied by lack of “acceptable” language?
It seems as though the F-word can only be spoken to confirm its lack of existence—as in “do I look fat in this?” a question that is typically only asked in anticipation of a reassuring “no, of course not, you look great,” as if looking fat and great were an impossibility.
Clearly, fat has come to mean far more than the composition of lean and fat tissue in your body. It has turned into an insult. Fat is bad. Undesirable. Unlovable. We live in a dominant society that values thinness... But not TOO thin, as evidenced by the recent comment I overheard by two Brits in coffee shop in Rome earlier this week (work related, promise):
Fat is bad. Undesirable. Unlovable.
“Have you seen this picture of so and so on Facebook? She looks SOOOOO skinny... Like anorexic—but not in a good way."
Are we now in a culture that taboos the word FAT and aspires to look anorexic... but in a good way?