Fat is a Noun

Fat is a noun

My tangled infatuation with words began as a little girl. At 18 months old, I picked up a pen and started copying letters from Sesame Street, as I got older the scribbled letters turned into words, which turned into sentences, and then into stories.

The thing I like about words, is that they carry power, even the short and simple words.

One word that carries an astonishing amount of power considering its length is “fat.” Fat is both a noun and an adjective, according to the dictionary. However, today it is my goal to persuade women to NEVER use fat as an adjective, ever, ever again. Even if it’s in reference to themselves.

For those who need a quick grammar refresher, a noun is a person, place, thing, or state of being. An adjective is a word used to describe a noun.

Sentence #1: The fat girl is happy.
Sentence #2: The happy girl has fat.

In sentence number one, the word “fat” is used to describe the girl, so therefore it is used as an adjective. In sentence number two, the word fat is something the girl possesses, therefore it is used as a noun.

The two sentences are quite similar, yet they carry surprisingly different tones. Both sentences introduce you to the girl through a descriptor, the adjective. The first one presents a negative connotation by identifying the girl as fat. The second one presents a positive connotation by identifying the girl as happy. The placement of the word fat before the subject creates a hierarchy within the sentence which ranks the girl’s appearance as most important, even more so than the girl herself. The fact that she’s happy? That’s the least important part of the sentence.

Now, if I’m the girl in the sentences, what really says more about my personality? The fact that I’m a fat girl or the fact that I’m a happy girl?  Well, in a perfect world it would be the latter… but sadly, it’s not. When a woman is described as “the fat girl,” it  pollutes her introduction and distorts it into a nasty, misleading image created by society.

Fat as an adjective does more than point out someone’s physical appearance. Society uses the word fat as a weapon. It’s a way of stereotyping someone as a lazy, ugly, unhealthy, unmotivated and undesirable person. When fat is used as an adjective, it no longer means big, it means much more, specifically in American culture.

I have been called fat many times. Each time I took the insult like a boxer takes a punch. The response is mechanical. I absorb the hit and recover later. But do you know what I would do if someone called me lazy, ugly, unhealthy, unmotivated, or undesirable? I would look them in the eyes, smile and say, “You’re wrong.” Because they are. I don’t even have to think about it. I know that I am not any of those things. And just like they are wrong about all those things, they are wrong when they call me fat. I’m not a fat girl. I’m a girl who has fat.

What if we stopped using fat as an adjective all together? What if instead of fat describing women, we only used the word fat to describe a thing women have.

Just like I have eyelashes, taste buds, hair, and fingernails, I have fat. It’s just another part of my body. No one ever describes me by the fact that I have  eyelashes, so why would they ever describe me by my fat? I have more hair than most people, just like I have more fat than most people, but still, I’m never never identified by my hair. And even if I were, it wouldn’t change people’s opinions of me as a person, yet for some reason the fact that I have more fat does.

When fat is used as a noun,  the bullets are removed from the clip. It becomes much less threatening. It becomes a thing. A part. A piece of her body, and not a personality trait. Instead of confining a woman to a stereotyped descriptor, you give her room to be more than her appearance.

To me, fat is a noun. I am so much more than this word. I have decided not to use fat as an adjective in regards to myself or others. The world is infinitely more intriguing when you get to know people for who they are instead of how they look.
I am a happy girl who has fat.

One comment

  1. Lowery, you are my hero. I have quietly observed your posts over the period of time of your personal journey and have gained strength from you. Thank you for your example in loving yourself. That is something I have always struggled with and still struggle on a daily basis. But I feel hope for myself knowing there are people in this world like you who are strong and courageous. Thank you!

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