Yesterday I was reading a book called ‘Do I Look Fat in This?’ about body image and feeling fat. The basic premise is that ‘fat isn’t a feeling’, something I’ve heard before – when we say we feel fat, we mean we are sad or angry or happy, but can’t express that, so use fat as a catch-all for our emotional state.
I basically believe that but one thing bugged me. She reckons whenever we ask ‘do I look fat in this?’, we are asking for attention and validation. When someone asks you that, you should respond by asking them how they really feel. Now I don’t know about you, if I ask someone if I looked fat and they started asking me about my feelings, I’d feel like giving them a knuckle sandwich.
But then, I can’t remember ever asking if I look fat in something unless I want to know if I look fat (actually I’d be more like to ask – ‘do I look okay?’ as in do I have something wrong with my outfit that I can’t see for myself). Maybe I’m not a real girlie girl but I ask that question wanting an honest opinion before I leave the house, not reassurance.
The other thing that struck me while reading this book is that fat is one of the few words left you can use to hurt someone. Call a woman a slut or a bitch or princess nowadays and they are more likely to take it as compliment than an insult. So many words that were once had the power to insult have been reclaimed, how do you put someone down? You call them fat. Telling someone they are a bitch is weak, but change that to ‘fat bitch’ and you get a reaction.