Before you read this post, I want you to do something. Take a blank piece of paper and write the word fat on one side. Then write every word that comes to mind when you think of the word fat. Next, write the word thin on the other side. Then write down every word that comes to mind when you think of the word thin. Don't judge what comes to your mind or think hard about this. Just quickly write down words or thoughts as they come. When you're done, come back and read this post and see if we're on the same page.
In actuality, it is simply a word with a number of definitions. In truth, fat is neither negative nor positive. It is just another piece of the whole that makes up our bodies.
A doctor may look at two women and see that one is fat and the other is thin. They may have similar profiles in terms of health (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), may eat similar food and live similarly active lives. They may not. The doctor really knows nothing at first glance other than that they look different.
Fat and thin are words that don't tell us as much as we ascribe to them.
But culturally, fat and thin have a story.
Fat is lazy, undisciplined, greedy, and poor.
Thin is successful, controlled, self-centered, and financially stable.
This isn't reality. It's just the subconscious story our society tells us.
Historically, various societies have had their own idea of what is attractive or socially acceptable when it comes to bodies and appearance. What I've noticed is that it often has more to do with wealth - or lack thereof - than anything else. In places where food is scarce, fatter women may be considered more attractive. It is a sign that they have money and are therefore desirable.
In the United States today, where the rich can easily eat organic everything and the poor are presented with aisles of affordable, chemical-laden, calorie-heavy junk, "fat" triggers the subconscious correlation with "low-income." And if the words "low" and "income" placed together are a trigger for anything, it is disgust or contempt. Certainly not desire.
When we see a fat woman, we make a lot of assumptions about who she is, how she eats, and what she does. We do the same with thin women.
And in both cases, we make judgments about their physical and emotional health.
But I believe that what we are really judging, usually subconsciously, is the health of their bank account. And that is the ultimate factor in what we deem acceptable or not. Even when we don't realize we're doing it.
p.p.s. If you're tired of the way you - and society - have been conditioned to think about weight, consider following Isabel Foxen Duke. She helps women stop feeling crazy around food, and part of that is challenging society's beliefs about weight. If you want to start doing some work on challenging your own negative body beliefs before summer comes, take a look at my online course, Simplify, which begins April 19th and is organized around the themes of Body Love.