Monday, September 19, 2011

"Fat" Is a Dirty Word

Anyone who's ever been fat, knows that "fat" is a dirty word. Plump, chunky, chubby ... all dirty words.

A word that might surprise you to think of as a synonym for "fat" is "healthy". I remember quite vividly the first time someone used the word "healthy" and it meant "fat".

I was in the third grade and my mother had taken me to the doctor for strep throat. When the doctor came into the examination room, my older brother told him, with all the authority that an older brother holds, "She's not sick. She's just fat."

The doctor looked me over and told my brother, very sternly, that I wasn't fat. I was just a very "healthy" young girl. While nice of him to placate me and defend me against my brother, I think the truth may have proved more fruitful. No third grade girl should weight 120 lbs. Which is what I weighed at the time.

For the next few years, whenever I or my brother commented on the pudginess of my physique, my mother would adamantly state that I wasn't fat, I was just very "healthy".

The mother of my boyfriend in college also told me, "You're just a very healthy young woman."

A few years later and many pounds lighter, a new boyfriend broke up with me on the grounds that I was just "too fat". So what does that tell me about how fat I actually was at the time when someone's mother told me I was only "healthy"?

Why do people say "healthy" when in fact they mean "fat" and the opposite of what healthy really is? I've no answer for this. My entire life, I've fluctuated from fat to skinnyish and back again. That's just what my body does, with or without the aid of diet and exercise. But still, when I hear someone say that I look "healthy", I always know it's time to put down the danish.