Fat Is a Neutral Word: An Introduction

    I’m fat. I always have been, and, honestly, I probably always will be. My jeans make a very specific “swishy” sound when my thighs rub together, and there are parts of me that resemble cottage cheese. Before you jump to conclusions, let me expand a little more. I’m fairly healthy, I have no chronic illnesses, I stay pretty active, and I don’t have a complicated relationship with food.

    I sat down to write this article and found myself struggling. I have too much I want to say. I’d love to have some real focus here and give you an article that’s all about the difference between self-love and body positivity and my current struggle with moving from one to the other. Or maybe something about how the most hurtful and deepest scarring comments I’ve heard about my weight have been said to me out of love from the people I had hoped to only find refuge in. Or I could even do a deep research dive and give you clinical reasons as to why my body isn’t wrong. But the truth is, I don’t have that kind of focus (clearly).

    I want to tell you all of these things and break down all my reasoning, and, damn it, I want you to get it. So, pretty quickly in I realized I don’t want to write an article. I want to write a column.

    Because all of these things I’ve listed are constantly on my mind. I’ve gotten pretty good at pushing them back, telling myself, “You’re perfect,” and moving on. But these thoughts have gotten louder the past few weeks due to a small number of things, and I’ve not been able to express them till now. That’s right, lovely reader, you have the pleasure of being my sounding board.

    With that in mind, here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with this column. I want to share a part of my story — experiences that have shaped me (no pun intended), why I think about myself the way I do, things I’ve overcome, and things I’m still unlearning. I want to get you to think of the way you’re treated — by others or yourself — and how you’re internalizing that, as well as how you’re treating others. Mostly, I want to create a space where people with marginalized bodies feel welcomed, heard, and loved.

    Let me emphasize that I will be sharing my own experiences, which is a single viewpoint. Not everything I espouse will be true for everyone, and I certainly never intend to say it will. This is my truth. There will be fact along side opinion and probably just pure emotion from time to time.

    Expect to be hearing from me for a little while. I’ll be discussing the things listed above as well as others, and I really hope to be hearing back from you. I want to know how you’re feeling and what you’re going through — as long as you’re willing to share, and there is absolutely zero judgment if you don’t. I mean, hey, it’s taken me 26 years to go public, so I get it. Take your time.

    I leave you with this: No matter your size, looks, ability, etc., you are valid. You are beautiful. You are perfect. Continue to grow. I see you, and I hear you, because we’re in this together.

    Other than playing with her over-active pup, Social Media Director Shelby Padgett has a number of passions including music, writing, and writing about music. She has completed her Bachelor’s degree in the former and hopes to continue highlighting underrepresented girls who shred. She reads as much as she can, and especially loves the writings of C.S. Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and anyone else who can make art with words. She enjoys playing her ukulele, posting gratuitous pictures of her dog, collecting mugs, and green bean casserole.

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