“I’m so fat!” Most girls have uttered this phrase at least once in their life. What we don’t realize is that we are saying it not to denote our actual size, but because we FEEL fat. This can be confusing for everyone else when they hear this statement and can’t match the words with what they see. Instead, they internalize this shame because they think “if that girl thinks she’s fat, what does she think about me?” It’s a vicious cycle that perpetuates poor body image among women and especially vulnerable young girls. Although we are targeted by ads and commercials about what the ideal body is, we also unduly put pressure on ourselves and others through this simple statement.
I would advocate for the dissolution of this phrase, for it is being misconstrued. We are not denoting size, but feelings and it is very confusing. However, I know we can never ban words for they are an expression of who we are whether it is right or wrong. It is definitely okay to FEEL fat for feelings can never be wrong, but we must be careful of how that comes out around other women and girls. We are never accountable for our feelings whatever they are because those are things we can’t control, but we can control what we say. We need to learn to express ourselves in different ways that do not add to the pressures of being thin.
A moment distinctly stands out in my mind when my sister and I were younger and at our lightest weight, yet we still felt fat because of societal pressures both culturally and socially to remain thin. My sister thoughtlessly repeated this phrase in front of two five year old girls, one of which stood on the chubbier side. I could see the unintended repercussions this could cause for her as she could plainly see we were rail-thin, but considered ourselves fat, so she must be extremely fat to us. To women, ‘fat’ is a frame of mind. We use the word to describe our disappointment in ourselves to not be able to attain thin status and not the actual size we are. Most of the time, we never even realize how much we weigh because we constantly think we are fat. We think that when we are saying those words that we are commiserating with our fellow women, but instead, they can cut like a knife.