Why I'm OK with calling myself fat

Hello loves,

I want to go back to basics. I want to talk about the very heart of my identity as a fat person in a series of posts about claiming the word fat, what health means to me as a fat person, and what I think about fat acceptance. I realise a lot of people will start off a plus size blog with these kind of foundation posts, but when I started this blog I waffled on about anything and everything. Then I changed the focus around to plus size fashion a couple of years ago and jumped in head first without covering the why of it. Now I want to go back and lay those foundations.

I'm fat. Fatty fat FAT. I don't consider it to be an insult so I have no problem using the adjective to describe myself, or other folk I know who use the term for themselves. Because I surround myself with a lot of other fat people online sometimes I forget that some people don't call themselves fat and perhaps don't think anyone else should either. I'm only reminded of how fine I am with being called fat when I read a post in which a reader takes umbrage at the writer calling themselves or others fat.

Then I realise how far I've come and how lucky I am. People are at different stages of their journey and that's OK.


Growing up as a child, the word fat was a weapon to be used against me. It had - to quote Jon Snow - a pointy end. Those who called me it all had the same aim. To hurt me. And hurt they did. Growing up with those words spinning around my head defined me, and for a long time it felt like that's all I was. Leah the fat kid. Luckily at junior school my headmaster saw something in me and helped nurture it, and I used knowledge as power. I was lucky enough to go to a really good senior school - a grammar school - and there, for the most part I was able to climb out of my own head and into another world. Of course, there were always little reminders that I was different to most people - being picked last in sports for example or not being liked by the really cool kids - but I made some good friends and was happy, in a way. By my 15th year my love of walking and the outdoors meant I'd all but lost my puppy fat, but of course the shrieks of FAT bounced off the walls of my mind and echoed endlessly.

There was no option of a long education for me as poverty dictated I needed to earn a crust, and working with people of all ages and sizes I soon felt less othered. I also had a vital schooling on the ways of life when I had lost some weight whilst in my first job and was treated differently by many people. I think this was the inception of my feminism, although I didn't know what to call it for many more years. I was outraged - I was the same person yet suddenly more in demand because I'd dropped about 20lbs. I had no time for anyone who treated me differently or only wanted to know me after the weight loss, and at the age of 17 I had my eyes opened to the (sometimes) ugliness of the human spirit.

My nan died in 1998 when I was 24, which was towards the end of a troubled relationship with a sometimes violent man, and it was the first time I'd lost a family member. It gave me a well needed kick up the butt, a sense that nothing is forever, and it shook me out of my fear of well....everything. I'd be the girl in the pub listening to a live band and desperately wanting to let go and have fun, but thinking the whole room would turn round and stare if I waved my arms in the air or had a little dance on the spot. By tiny TINY steps I got braver, and when the relationship ended, I was suddenly living like someone had left the gate open. I was living near Gatwick and I made the most of the great transport links to London and was out at gigs, pubs and clubs in London a couple of times a week for a few years, having a great time. I had a 'sleep when you're dead' mentality and was high on life.

Although being desired by others isn't something I feel we should base our self esteem upon entirely, it certainly is a boost to be desired, and I never had any problem attracting partners at any size or weight, especially in the 'London years'. I realised there weren't people for fat people and people for thin people. I learned that if you're happy, bubbly and fun then all those kind of rules go out of the window. I was off the leash after my troubled relationship, and feeling amazing, and that attracted people. Really good looking people, of sound mind. I'd learned when I was 17 that some people will only want you if you look a certain way, but all the good ones will be attracted to your spirit. I think it was about this time that I started to feel OK with being fat and referring to myself as fat.

I was having the time of my life, and I was fat. I was forever pinging from one new love to another and I was desired and I was fat. I was attracting men on days and nights out like crazy and I was fat. With some eyeliner and a push up bra I had the power to make men's jaws drop, and I was fat. With a filthy cackle, a head always ready to be thrown back in laughter and a smile a mile wide, one night in London, I met my husband, and I was fat.

He wasn't a chubby chaser or a fat fetishist, he was just a guy on a night out with his mates, who in his own words says 'You stuck out because you had the biggest smile in the whole pub.'

Fat is a part of me, a big part of me (ha!), but it's not all I am. I am so much more than a number on a scale. I'm a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, and I am loved. Aesthetically I have auburn hair (which is going grey at an alarming rate), a face full of freckles, and I am fat. It describes how I look, but it doesn't have the power to describe anything other than that. Fat is used to imply many other things about people - nasty things such as stupid, unclean, lazy. Stereotypical bullshit at its worst which I know has no bearing on me. Fat as a word can no longer hurt me, because I claim it for my own.

I'm OK with who I am.

Thanks for reading!