Discussing Words That Describe Our Bodies | Everyday Feminism

Lovely article from Everyday Feminism (clicky-click below for fullness) about how we select the language we use to describe our looks to others. The words Fat, Curvy, BBW, and Plush are discussed here.

In my life, the word “fat” was the enemy. Bullies and jerks used it to make me feel small and make me feel bad for looking differently than the others. It was what I called myself when the back of my arm jiggled in a fond greeting, or how I saw myself when my friends got hit on in bars, at dances and I didn’t. It was the only difference between us (that I could discern then), and so it must have been the real reason.

Now, after long years of realizing I never wanted those boys and that I was being called fat for other reasons, I still couldn’t call myself that and feel confident. I used it in jest, and got the argument back from friends and family who all said, “Of course you’re not sweetie!” But as I came into my own fat acceptance and started calling myself that, people still argued against me, but I argued back.

“Yes, I am fat, and that is because I carry extra skin and flesh on my body than the average person.”

I would carry on, insisting that it wasn’t a judgement call against myself or my body. It was simply a statement of truth. My truth. And one of the words that I used to build confidence in my body was ‘Curvy.’ It’s my go-to word when I’m feeling sexy in a great outfit–I call it ‘Workin’ my curves.’ But I don’t call it that to anyone else, just to myself. It makes me feel good. And there isn’t a whole lot of that going on these days…

So, after I finished the article I started skimming the comments, as I invariably do–because I’m something of a sadist, and I look for trolls who have awful things to say–and I noticed that some men were posting responses to this article. Citing that ‘curvy’ isolates cis men and transgender men from the fat acceptance community.

Now, I never would have believed that fat men had any kind of issue–body image wise. This is ignorant and assumptive, certainly, but I never saw any fat guys being bullied in my high school. Plenty of my curvy sisters, certainly, but–looking back now–I can imagine that some of the bigger guys in my class may have been suffering in silence.

Men, I encourage you, look to the language, the community, to find your own identifying language. Granted, ‘curvy’ may not be up your alley; but what would you like to be called? Find the word that empowers you, and spread it around!

4 Women, 4 Words: Discussing the Words That Describe Our Big Bodies — Everyday Feminism.

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6 thoughts on “Discussing Words That Describe Our Bodies | Everyday Feminism

  1. It is not just men, I see plenty of fat women who are not very curvy. Their silhouettes often overlap with those of fat men who do have some curves.

    If you are going to set “curviness” at a standard for BBW Beauty then you will be rejecting a lot of fat women. For me Fat Acceptance should be about accepting and supporting fat people.

    • Of course, William, I agree that setting “curviness” or any label/descriptor as a “standard” will reject a lot of people–and not just in the fat community. Choosing words to describe yourself gives a person a greater sense of autonomy and control over the way he or she views him- or herself. This way, people can feel good about what they see over being made to feel oppressed because they only have the words and connotations others place upon them. This post isn’t about setting a standard or forcing someone to call themselves something they don’t see or agree with. It’s about finding a word or a phrase that makes what you see in the mirror the only standard of beauty you need to live by.

  2. As a fat guy I could imagine how I would feel if everyday the Fat Acceptance Community began raving over fat men with lots of muscles. There would not have to be anything negative said about average fat men to communicate what the community considers positive in fat men.

    When we choose what we say in Fat Acceptance we ,must remember that acceptance is half of the concept. What is great is that there is a lot of positive thought in your message above.

    • “We must remember that acceptance is half of the concept.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Not only is it about acceptance of self, but acceptance of how others view themselves. It’s about tolerance for the fact that others have every right to call themselves whatever they like, even if its something we would not call ourselves. Acceptance is about embracing the label/descriptor/standard in your own way, and then shining the light of acceptance on everyone else. Thanks for commenting, William, I appreciate it! 😀

  3. Just one last question……………When you say something like “My curvy Sisters”……. are you excluding the non-curvy women or are you making them “Honorary Curvy Sisters” as a courtesy?

    Thanks for bearing with my relentlessness and I think you have a great blog.

  4. Gosh, I hadn’t considered that. I was thinking of a couple of the other girls I went to high school with, my best friends. We were often made fun of simultaneously or independently and then we would commiserate with each other after. Because I associated them with myself, I referred to them as “my curvy sisters.” I did not mean to exclude anyone with my language–merely refer to a small group of girls from my past that I did not want to name here specifically.

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