- Physiologically, fat is a nutritional compound. It is necessary for bodily function. We store it in our bodies as adipose tissue, and some of us store more than others. You can appear “skinny,” but if you don’t exercise or eat right, you may actually have more fat stores than if you appear overweight but actually have a healthier balance of muscle and fat. So, to summarize, we all have fat, but that doesn’t mean that we are fat.
- The word has become loaded with stereotypes and derogatory connotations. Whether or not you mean it that way, it is an insult. In our culture, people are expected to look a certain way (a way that very few of us really look without airbrushing), and the generally desired appearance is size XS for girls. When you call someone fat, you are comparing them to the cultural XS ideal and saying they don’t fit it, instead of using a term that can be meaningfully (physiologically) defined, such as overweight. (Be careful about this term as well, though, because it can be hard to know if someone is actually overweight without knowing their BMI... and even BMI is far from a perfect measurement.)
- What someone looks like outwardly has nothing to do with who they are inwardly. Labels based on appearance are poor descriptions of anything that a person truly is, and detract from self-worth and confidence in one’s ability to change. If someone is overweight and wants to reach a healthier weight, the first step to sustainable change is to believe in one’s ability to make that change. Saying, “I am fat,” can evolve quickly into “I will always be this way; this is just how I am, and I cannot change it.” That is a dangerous mentality for weight, for all aspects of health, and for life itself.
Just remember, the foremost concern is health every time, not subjective evaluations (we can argue the subjective nature of health on a different day)!