I used to hate the word fat. Years of hearing abuse with words such as fatso and fatty and associated taunts made me hate it.
Thankfully “fat” downy affect me like it did. But scars run deep and are individual. And there is still some reaction to that word. That is my issue though. I know that. I appreciate and applaud the fighters who have claimed this word as part of a body positive movement. Unloading the word of its negative connotations.
We are a long way from it being a completely neutral word but we are closer than 20 years ago.
Language changes and reclaiming words, taking power back, it’s an awesome thing.
This is where the #droptheplus campaign seems to completely divide and create such passion.
For me, plus is a simple descriptive word and I have absolutely no issue with it. As others have said, what word would we use instead? Curvy wouldn’t work because there are people like me who aren’t curvy whatever our size. Someone suggested fatshion! I actually like that, a powerful claiming of the word which is still loaded, but it is still loaded and very contentious. Plus just seems easy and makes sense. It is only offensive if we allow ourselves to feel offended. I get that. I think I understand that part of the argument.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if this campaign did some good in getting clothing retailers to hear the plus size buyers? Wouldn’t it be awesome if clothing retailers heard our complaints of the limit of clothing for the larger woman? Considering the UK average is a size 16, surely retailers cannot keep peddling out the myth that they wouldn’t sell larger sizes in clothing. And that is the part of the campaign I personally love. Clothing going up to sizes beyond an 18 in more than a handful of shops. And not a special range of clothing. The same fabrics and styles. So that plus size woman of every shape have a more equal chance of finding something to fit. I say this as a tree shaped woman, for whom curves are a mystery and a myth, for whom the hip to waist ratio is not generous.
OK, I’m an ever hopeful dreamer.
But the campaign seems to be about several things and one of these is models over a UK 12 being called Plus size. Is that right? Is that what model agencies do? Because that I do have an issue with. NOT because there is anything wrong with being a plus sized woman. But because size 12 is NOT a plus, nor is a 14. Why do they start this at a 12? For me it is not #droptheplus so much as #changetheplus. Put it where it should be, at a size that lay people see as plus. As a word “Plus” does plenty of good things, but it needs to be in the right place if it is going to do those good things, surely?
I can see where #droptheplus was well intentioned, but I agree fully that rather than getting rid of a word, we need to embrace those words people try to use against us, and find better ways of body positivity. We absolutely need interventions in school, such as The Self Esteem Team, to allow children and young people to feel whole and fine as they are.
I love that #droptheplus has started a dialogue, at least. It is raising issues and allowing people their voices. Sadly, though, as with any argument and discussion, it is also enabling some to attack and slam those who disagree with them. Last night I was accused of being fatphobic because I chose to see some positive aspects in the #droptheplus campaign. I was told my opinion didn’t matter because I didn’t agree with theirs.
I have been fat for at least 28 years of my life. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I feel pretty qualified in talking about MY experiences of MY life. But that’s just it. MY life. I choose now to exercise, and lose weight to improve MY running and also MY health. Those are MY choices. It certainly does not make me fatphobic because I choose to be a different size to what I was. And it doesn’t make me fatphobic because I don’t agree with someone who calls fatphobic to every opposing view! And it angers me that aggressive voices are suggesting this to people who have lived with fat all their lives. Because they choose to live differently. It’s as bad as religious intolerance.
There seem to be many levels to this campaign, and I sincerely hope good comes out of it. But everyone needs to open their ears. Can we do that?