You might actually be fat

I can only assume the majority of people have by now seen the quote "You aren't fat, you have fat" or some other iteration plastered as an image, designed to be both forgiving and inclusive, on their social media. Aside from the obvious inability to distinguish between the use of the word fat as a noun or an adjective, something I thought we had all covered in late primary education, this mindset causes issues.

adjective, fat·ter, fat·test.

having too much flabby tissue; corpulent; obese:a fat person.


any of several white or yellowish greasy substances, forming the chief part of adipose tissue of animals and also occurring in plants, that when pure are colorless, odorless, and tasteless and are either solid or liquid esters of glycerol with fatty acids; fats are insoluble in water or cold alcohol but soluble in ether, chloroform, or benzene: used in the manufacture of soap, paints, and other protective coatings and in cooking. definitions of "fat'

Before the "medals for everyone" brigade start drafting their signs for the inevitable protest, allow me to elaborate. I DO NOT think we should be strolling around Tesco, pointing at people and calling them fat. This is bullying, and so are many other examples I'm sure we can all bring to mind. What is not bullying however, is an appropriate use of the word fat in a descriptive sense. This is not just because it is objectively, and measurably true, but further because we are running the risk of concept creep. It is a well established concept in the social sciences that we are more inclined to aspire to the norms and values which we see rewarded around us. By removing health bound stigma from being overweight, and stopping the use of the word fat in a misguided attempt to be nice to people who fit this description, we are in fact normalising excess body fat, and making it aspirational for the next generation.