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Fat: The hardest word

I can say overweight and plus-sized, usually with a reasonable degree of comfort.

I can say, with only some hesitation, big, large, and heavy.

I can say chubby, round, and, laughingly, gourd-shaped (à la my dear husband).

It’s a whole lot harder to say FAT.

sculptures

I would prefer to use died rather than the euphemism of passed away, yet shrink from fat.

Fat is raw and harsh and laden with the baggage of embarrassment, discomfort, and insecurity.

Fat is cruelty, judgment, looks of disgust.

Fat is pointing and snickering.

Fat is disappointment.

Fat is failure.

What is the hardest word for you to say?
Please share!

(Originally posted in November, 2012.)

NaBloPoMo February 2014

Laurel Regan – Writer, tangler, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, cat herder, needle felter, iPhoneographer, Growlita, iFan, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 22 comments… add one }

  • Holly Jahangiri
    Twitter:
    February 8, 2014

    Oh, that’s a dangerous question. Mine starts with a “v” and I had to learn to say it, eventually, because I had a daughter and didn’t want her to grow up with bizarre, linguistic “issues.” I also have a son, and didn’t want him to think it was a dirty word. Better to use that than one that starts with a “c,” eh?

    My mom had strange words that not only could she not SAY – just hearing them could literally make her throw up. “Mucus,” for instance. “Vomit.” (Different “v” word, that.) “Barf” didn’t do it – it wasn’t just the meaning or the visuals, but something about the sound or feel of the word. I don’t know how to explain it.

    I don’t have as many problem words as I used to. I can say “fat,” but I don’t like being it. Need to work on that one. ;)
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted… A Book Warming PartyMy Profile

  • Holly Jahangiri
    Twitter:
    February 8, 2014

    To clarify – I would not call someone else “fat.” I’m not sure “overweight” or “obese” or “morbidly obese” sounds or feels better. I’m not sure anyone who is fat needs to have it pointed out by anyone but their doctor – and even then, there’s not a NICE word for it, is there? Euphemisms just don’t help, unless the description comes without judgment or negative connotation. “Fat” isn’t a bad thing, if you’re a Hawaiian wahine. At least it didn’t used to be – thin wasn’t desirable or particularly admired, but womanly curves in a comfy muu-muu? Nothing wrong with that. It’s a cultural thing. “Rubenesque?” At one point, it would have implied wealth and health, and large hips for bringing healthy children into the family – all of which were good things.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted… A Book Warming PartyMy Profile

    • Laurel Regan
      Twitter:
      February 10, 2014

      Ugh, I don’t like those words either. They all sound rather ugly to me! Maybe we need to take back “fat” as a word that’s actually positive!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Why do you write?My Profile

  • Jeanne Melanson
    Twitter:
    February 8, 2014

    Interesting post and food for thought. Words are interesting, aren’t they? They’re just letters, and people can interpret them any way at all. They can hurt, they can heal. I don’t like the word ‘fat’ either. I would feel terrible if I ever called someone ‘fat.’ It’s like you said, if they’re fat, they already know it. If I had to say anything, I would ‘heavy’. My boyfriend is heavy. Personally, I’m normal weight, 5’5″, 125 pounds. My sister, however, in her younger years, was very thin, and her hated word was “skinny”. She would come home crying whenever someone called her “skinny.” It’s like I said, words can be interpreted in different way. Someone else may take “skinny” as a welcome comment. But “fat” … that’s a tricky one. Thanks for your post! All the best.

  • Dr Wixy
    Twitter:
    February 8, 2014

    This is a great post. I just discussed denotation (dictionary definition) and connotation (image we get from words) with my students. I agree that “fat” and “skinny” have negative connotations in American society.

    I don’t know that I have words I don’t like saying, but there are a few I just love to say — serendipity, superfluous, plethora. Nothing about connotation with those; they just feel wonderful tripping off the tongue.

  • Karen Lynn February 9, 2014

    my first reaction to your teaser, my first answer was: No. That is the hardest word for me to say. Sometimes I avoid people who might ask me to do things I don’t want to do just to not say “no”.

    now about the fat thing. at 58 (I have no clue how old you are) i’ve come to terms with my weight. no matter what i eat, don’t eat, i weigh the same. and it’s too much. but when i look in the mirror i just see Karen, and i’m trying so hard to love her, to love that face, to find all the good in her and spread it around and i just don’t see fat anymore.

    and certainly the ef word doesn’t come to mind thinking of you lovely Laurel, you are so beautiful and i hate that you are uncomfortable in your skin. xo hugs. thanks for being honest and raw and you.

  • siouxZQ February 9, 2014

    I am fat and don’t mind the word in my voice but really don’t like when I hear others say it – mainly because I don’t like anyone commenting on my body at all.
    I HATE “overweight” … makes me feel like luggage; “large” … well, guess I’m that as well but it makes me think of Olive Oyl singing … “and he’s large” about Blutto.
    Personally, I prefer to be seen as “comfy”, “fluffy”, “Rubenesque” – words that evoke visions of puffy pillows, My husband loves to hug me … and that makes “fat” okay in my world.

  • Theresa Ledford February 9, 2014

    For me, the worst word to hear, and one I just hate to ever say is “gay”. I have many gay friends and as a whole the word can be used respectfully. I just see it used so often in a negative way: “That’s SO gay”, “How gay is that?”, “that’s just a bunch of gays”. It not only separates a group of people into a subcategory of human being whether it’s being used respectfully or not, but it is never used to build someone up. No one ever says “That’s so gay” and means it as a compliment. It means it’s something that other person should be ashamed of doing. The word gay is of course used in everyday life, I mean, a Homosexual Pride Parade doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, so, it must be said at times. A full out description doesn’t work either. I can’t very well say “My friends who fall in love with people of the same sex as themselves”, no they are, if they must be categorized, my gay friends. Really though, I’d just like to say “These are my friends”. “Dude, that dance you did embarrassed your unborn children” and “I can’t stand that group of guys over there, they laughed at me for being fat”. I’d like to just let people be who they are without having to use that word.
    Theresa Ledford recently posted… How to Lose a LifeMy Profile

    • Laurel Regan
      Twitter:
      February 10, 2014

      Oh, so right. As I read your comment I kept thinking of the lyrics to Macklemore’s “Same Love” – about how “gay is synonymous with the lesser” and so on. I am totally with you on this.
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Why do you write?My Profile

  • Adela February 9, 2014

    Oh Laurel, you make me think. I have a hard time saying monster and halleluiah. Okay, that’s not what you mean.

    I used to laugh that my mother-in-law said overweight people were “fleshy.” I was thin and lithe. Now I say I’m a padded granny. Or I explain that at my age I have to choose between round or wrinkled. I choose round. Fat is not in my vocabulary except when talking about a well-marbled steak.

    “Wrong” is the hardest word for me to say. I don’t want to be wrong, and I don’t want to you to be either. mis-informed, off-track, inaccurate, inprecise, off the mark, false, unsound, ill-thought out. So much more civilized than the hard, cold Wrong. (I hear the big EHHHNT Buzzer in my head, just typing this.

    • Laurel Regan
      Twitter:
      February 10, 2014

      Oh, that is definitely a tough one to say! You’re right – there are so many more palatable ways to get the message across than to use the w word. Thank you for sharing!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Why do you write?My Profile

  • Diane February 9, 2014

    Oh. My. goodness. It’s so true. All of those other words, I can say with relative ease. Fat is the biggie! I’m shocked!
    Diane recently posted… Gold Medal MotherMy Profile

  • inevertoldher
    Twitter:
    February 10, 2014

    Great mind provoking post. You will be a billion comments. I raised my children to believe ‘fat’ was in the ‘bad word’ category. My word…bored. I refuse to be bored and I am not receptive to others saying it.
    inevertoldher recently posted… The birth.My Profile

  • Linda Anselmi February 12, 2014

    My problem isn’t with the word fat, but how we use it. We all have fat. None of us are Fat — no matter our weight. Fat is a thing, not a person. It is a discriptor, it is not an identity. :)

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