Home Social Construct On Being and Leaving Behind “The Fat Bitch”

On Being and Leaving Behind “The Fat Bitch”

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I promise, this is more cursing than I’m used to doing in my posts… so please don’t be put off by it.

I mean, I swear (every blue moon) but there’s a time and a place for everything… and considering the overwhelming response to my post regarding “Becoming ‘The Fit Bitch,'” I think many people get where I’m coming from, here.

However… there’s another element to this that appeared unexpectedly: the women who said “I’m not ‘The Fit Bitch’ yet, I’m still ‘The Fat Bitch.” And I won’t even lie… that never once crossed my mind to mention. Why? Because the opposite of “fit” is not “fat” to me. The anti-thesis of “fit” is merely “unfit.” And both fat and skinny chicks fall into line with that one.

Take a look at these two comments that were left for that post:

Well, I’m still a fat bitch, LOL! I kid, but seriously I’m soooo not there yet. I could totally relate to many of the thoughts you shared before. I’m trying my best to do better and make better decisions. I have nothing against the “fit bitch” and actually admire her now. I strive to be like her. Am I striving hard enough? Not yet, but I’m trying everyday. I’m still being looked at like “the fat bitch”, you know when you try to make healthier decisions but everyone looking at you like “you know your fat a$$ want them cupcakes!” I don’t necessarily care what other people think about my decisions but I can admit fighting the temptation is extremely hard when everyone around you is waiting for you to fail! I don’t think many people actually want me to succeed at weight loss. They say they do but deep down I think they like me as “the fat bitch”. Well I don’t. So what would you say to that? I’m sure you have blogged about it before but I’m fairly new to your site. I read your blog because when I don’t feel like eating right or doing the right things to lose weight, your blog reminds me that I have to if I really want it. That there is no quick fix, just healthier eating and exercise. – Jeannine

Excerpted from On Becoming “That Fit Bitch” | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

And…

well i am in the fat girl category and i understand what Jeannine is talking about. I am trying to take positive step to better my health but as soon as someone see me eating a salad, they ask “why you not having a hamburger, You on a diet or something?” and they say it as if i owe them an answer. and you don’t want to say yes cause as soon as you do, everyone want to tell you what you should and should not be doing, or what you should and should not be eating and take in mind that some of them have never had a weight problem in the whole life or can even imagine what it is like to be 325lbs, then you have the ones that say dumb shit like “Only eat 3 apples a day and a diet Coke at night” and right then i start thinking how did this person get hired? But the worse ones of all is the people that watch every thing eat and every thing you do so the first time you even look at the cupcakes they want to say some sh-t like “So i see you quit your diet” and if you do manage to keep it to your self and the weight do start to come off, now you starting hearing thing like “Oh that bitch smoking CRACK” so from now on, i have decided TO HELL WITH ALL OF THEM and if someone ask me what i am doing i just tell them i doing me!! – Wyzetta

Excerpted from On Becoming “That Fit Bitch” | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

Okay… so, let’s talk about “fit” for a second.

I look at the concept of “fit” the same way that I look at the concept of “goal setting.” I don’t strive for one goal because goals have a finite point. There’s a point where you “reach” the “end” and you level off.

“Fit” doesn’t work that way. There’s no “finite point” you reach where you can finally wear the “fit” label. Actually, let me clarify that – there’s a point where society wants to define what “fit” looks like… but we’ve already talked about the problem with that:

My thoughts were, of course you can be fit and “fat.” And considering how “fat” in America is anything over a size 4 – depending upon who you talk to – MANY of us are “fat” in someone else’s eyes… clearly that doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as the stuff that keeps us alive. That stuff is filed under that “fit” label.

Those who I’ve dialogued with outside of the site know how I feel about this “fat” thing. As I’ve said before, my primary goal was just being a healthy weight. The vanity aspect of it came when I could afford to be vain and think about looks.. which, basically, was when I had my health situated.

There’s a point in that clip that disturbed me, though – the thinner woman said, “Because I am thin, because I’ve never been sick,” she never thought that her system could be in such bad shape because her body wasn’t in bad shape. I think that the American understanding that our “outer” is a direct reflection of our “inner” is what’s making it so hard for us to have these conversations about health.

What do I mean? I mean that we keep connecting a person’s size to their ability to be healthy. It shortchanges the people on both ends of the spectrum. If being obese is the epitome of poor health, then if I’m superskinny I should be good, right? I should be able to avoid all of that, right?

Excerpted from Can You Be Fit AND “Fat?” | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

I look at the comments left on the “Fit Bitch” post and I wonder to myself.. at what point do we allow ourselves to claim our status as being “That Fit Bitch?” When do we stop claiming “fat?” Surely, it can’t be when we “look it,” right? Because we can “look fit” (read: be skinny) without actually living or being it… but that’s not what we want. (I mean, if it is… then do you.. I won’t be co-signing that mentality here, though.)

There’s another element to this that I think should be addressed, as well:

Trust me when I say this: people who don’t know you from Annie… they don’t really care if you’re ok. These people just prefer to listen to themselves talk. They like how authoritative they sound. It’s like lording over someone to let them know that you’ve got the goods they want. “I got what you want, and you have to listen to me to get it.” People like feeling wanted and needed, and will go out of their way to create the kind of situation that allows them to feel that way.

Child, bye.

Look, all advice is not good advice… regardless of where it comes from. A doctor with a preconceived notion about a patient they may never see again (no really, read that), or a broad you’ve never seen before telling you a colonic is why you’re 60lbs overweight, or someone incorrectly telling you that limiting meat intake is “going vegan” and how silly it is…. sometimes, you just have to take it with a grain of salt when it comes. Feel comfortable enough to squash the convo when it does come… just expect this moment to come, though.

Obesity is an interesting problem because it’s a visible flaw. If you’re a sociopath, a liar, or an axe murderer… we can’t always identify that problem visually. But ohhh lordy, I can see that something must be wrong with you because you’re fat. Let me make this clear: being overweight is not an open invitation for people to force their ignorant and idiotic “advice” on you, and it certainly is not a reason for you to feel compelled to explain why you are overweight to anyone you don’t care about and doesn’t care about you. Your weight is not a call-to-arms for people who are not overweight to use you to make themselves feel better by pummeling you with horrid advice, further snitching on themselves and the unhealthy measures they take to remain skinny.

I refer to it as “big girl guilt” – that feeling inside that says maybe I should listen to this seemingly healthy person to see if they have the answers that I don’t. I mean, of course I don’t have any answers. I’m still fat. Um, naw. This doesn’t work like that.

That kind of “big girl guilt” implies that we don’t have a reason to stand up for ourselves because we “obviously don’t have ‘the answers.’” It also lends into that notion that says “only people who are cute by society’s standards have the right to have any pride or self-esteem orr self respect.” Well, considering how almost 70% of society is overweight and apparently clinging to standards of beauty that don’t represent them in the slightest… why would I cling to any notion that society brings me? I’m cool on that.

Excerpted from Handling Unsolicited Advice and “Big Girl Guilt” | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

The underlying point of both yesterday’s post and today’s is to understand why it’s important to give up on caring what other people think of us. Give up believing that these people’s thoughts matter. Give up on this idea that the way that “society” has defined fit is so important… because I can assure you they have it wrong. While they’re always looking at the thin model on the photoshop diet as someone who’s body should be praised, they’re ignoring the women who are well-built with great physiques who live healthy and happy lives. They’re ignoring the women who live fit lives, and their bodies have yet to catch up with them.

So… all that is to say… the minute you start making changes is the minute you begin to become “the fit bitch,” and you leave everything else behind. Stop claiming anything else. Start speaking and working things into existence… and that includes no longer accepting the former label for yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever said “I’m still a fat bitch” even when I was one.

There’s no simple way to do it, either. You literally look at your shoulder, lift your hand, and use that hand to dust that label right off.

The labels that people want to give you to make themselves comfortable… they have nothing to do with you. (Sounds a lot like how we used to label “The Fit Bitch” until we accepted that the label had more to do with making US comfortable than anything else, right?) Let all of that go. There’s a point where you’re above it all.. and that point is when you start to experience the benefits of your lifestyle change.

Really, it’s that simple.

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15 comments

Jeannine December 17, 2010 - 1:53 PM

I don’t know what else to say but Thank you! Thank you for reminding me that I determine who I am by how I think and how I carry myself. If I consider myself “a fat bitch” then that is who I will be. I will continue to tell myself everyday that I can be fit until I truly believe it and live it! A therapist used to tell me “fake it until you make it”! Thanks again Erika!

Sarah December 17, 2010 - 4:10 PM

“Those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind….”

LaRoja313 December 17, 2010 - 4:53 PM

Love it! I so needed this today.

Wyzetta December 17, 2010 - 7:50 PM

this is such a excellent post, but let me say something that some people my relate to and others my find just down right crazy!! I have been over 300lbs for the last 5 years and I have been at 325lbs (give or take 5lbs) for the last 3 years but only in the last 2 months (that right the LAST 2 months) did I come to accept that maybe, just maybe I am fat!! Even though i have been this heavy for this long, i have always thought of my self as fit and now I have come to realize that this is the reason why I have been this heavy this long!! I remember the first time a DOCTOR said the word “Obese” I looked around to see if he was describing someone else but the only people in the room was me and him and even then the only thing going through my mind was “NOT ME” but if at that moment I would have realized I was fat, then maybe I would not be at 325lbs today. So today I am OK with calling myself that “Fat Girl” cause I can’t change the thing that I don’t know about but now I KNOW. I am OK with being the FAT GIRL as long as I know that I am in the process of becoming the FIT GIRL

Lorrie January 28, 2011 - 3:22 PM

This is an awesome post. I am going to post a link to it in a facebook page called Black Fit & Fabulous and Black Women DO Workout. The women on those pages think that skinny is synonomous with healthy and are phat haters. I posted something similar in response. Thanks!

maccala August 2, 2011 - 11:33 PM

Love the post. Fit is whole body, and not a number. I am 50 this year and am more in shape than I was before my 1st son’s birth. You are never too old to shed bad habits and patterns. Stay strong and thank you for sharing your journey!

Lauren February 28, 2012 - 8:17 PM

This post made me think about something that happened the other day while I was at work. A parent was checking her student out from school for the day and she started talking about this “Body by Vi” mixture she’s selling or drinking or whatever (I’m not sure what it is, I think it’s a shake program.) She wanted me to come to some kind of party to buy this stuff from her. She went on and on about it, 3 kinds of the best protein. So I asked her, well, I eat vegetables and chicken and I cook at home, what kind of protein? Specifically I asked, “Does it have soy? I have a screwed-up thyroid, I don’t eat soy!” She wasn’t sure. She went on to talk about how it’s better to get complete nutrition because of all that crap we put in our bodies, blah blah blah. (And I was thinking, Really? Did you not just hear me say I cook at home? And you want to sell me processed protein powder from some factory?) So I just stared at her and smiled till she got sort of uncomfortable looking and went away. So I think that might be the secret. Smile and nod. Be confident enough to let them think what they’re saying is right -for them- and still just do whatever you want!

vintage3000 May 7, 2012 - 1:40 PM

I have a very good friend who has learned quite a bit of nutritional advice, and has lost about 50 pounds as a result. She is ALWAYS going on about the nutritional benefits of this, that, when sometimes i just want to say yes, I know brown rice is better for me that’s why I AM EATING IT. And yes, I do plan on eating that blueberry muffin i bought, and don’t need to tell you when was the last time I had one. The final straw: She told me once she noticed an obese woman out on the street, so she went over to her and began “advising” her about weight loss, nutrition, etc. She seemed very pleased with herself for providing this info to a stranger. While knowledgeable, she is not a licensed nutritionist. But aside from that I wanted to scream at her: do you realize how offensive it is to go up to someone you don’t know and offer them what you think is weight loss advice??!!!!!! I literally had to end the convo because it p’d me off so badly. At one point my friend was underweight because she had not found the right balance of nutrients for her own diet– I would never have said to her ‘girl you need to eat more xys, you’re looking kinda sickly’. But she feels it’s ok to approach someone else because as you noted in your post, fatness is visible, so a lot of people feel obligated to comment.

This is a wonderful article!! August 13, 2012 - 3:01 PM

I totally needed to read this article today. And I loved “Wyzetta” comment about the people who always have some slick stuff to say about your weight. I go through that all of the time on my job. I am glad that others know what I am going through.

Niido August 19, 2012 - 7:17 PM

Gurl! I believe I have read this article about 5 times and each time I get something different. But what I got off the bat…totally relatable! I’ve been overweight all of my life and ended up being a fat bride! I was always looking for the quick fixes and when I would ask people what were they doing(because the seemed to be disappearing overnight) and they would give me some vague off the wall answer that used to piss me off. I wondered how come they were so dern secretative…well now I know. I have chosen to do Weight Watchers to help me with my journey. I have tried EVERYTHING else but refused to give up my bad habits. So this time around, I’m giving up all kinds of bad habits…I’ve lost about 20lbs…a very S L O W 20lbs. This very dayI was approached by all kinds of people noticing my accomplishment and my canned response is , “Thank you for noticing!” Beem a smile and walk away. I was having a conversation with this guy and a lady walks up and just as loudly as she can starts machine gunning me questions like, “What are you doing? Did you join a program? Did you change your eating habits? I mean what are you doing and how much have you lost?” Mind now, I in no way wanted this dude in my business like that but I was stuck. I needed her to shut up! I have noticed that people not only watch your plate for you (drives me crazy) but they will try and sabatoge you just as sure as I am breathing! Then they want to tell someone else and they tell someone else and before you know it you have some 3rd world incurable disease which is causing you to loose weight…NO ONE CAN JUST BE HAPPY FOR YOU. So I told her I was doing Weight Watchers and I’d lost 20lbs. As soon as I said that she left…no good bye, no keep up the good work, no nothing. Which made me think I had been scouted out. I need a canned response for the nosey people trying to figure out what I am doing. I thought about saying, “I’ve made a life style change.” Which isn’t a lie…it’s just not specific (Dang, why couldn’t I think of that earlier?). So here’s to my life style change motto: “The minute you start making changes is the minute you become that fit bitch! “–LOVE THAT!

Jame (@jameane) August 23, 2012 - 12:47 PM

I don’t talk about my weight at all. Never have. No need to start I guess. But I am working on losing about 80 pounds. I am halfway there.

Now it seems like it is the only think my sister wants to talk about (she is trying to lose too!). She chats about it with everyone!

It seems like, no one bothered to ask me how I was eating and exercising, until they saw a visible difference.

But for other people (let’s say the thinner person), I am still “fat” so there is no way I could care about exercise and my health. You can’t win for trying, that’s for sure.

Nicki November 2, 2012 - 12:53 PM

So, I’m really glad that I re-read this post today because I REALLY needed to see it. I’m working out with a trainer 3x a week, changing (i’m a work in progress girl) my eating habits and beginning (for real this time) the C25K program (especially since I’m signed up for the NYC Hot Chocolate 5K in Dec). I’m on my way to being that “fit bitch” and, today, I needed that reminder.

Rine May 7, 2013 - 1:38 PM

“So… all that is to say… the minute you start making changes is the minute you begin to become “the fit bitch,” and you leave everything else behind. Stop claiming anything else. Start speaking and working things into existence… and that includes no longer accepting the former label for yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever said “I’m still a fat bitch” even when I was one.”

I love this Erika! This is it right here! This one little paragraph just hit me in the face. Yes!

I am encouraged!

Thank you so much for this post!

-J

True August 12, 2013 - 11:23 PM

You know what I heard one time at a doctor’s office after my blood pressure was taken? “Her pressure is way better than mine….” And i was left off as if to say “How did the fat girl have such great blood pressure?” *shrug* it used to bother me quite a bit when someone referred to me as the “fat bitch” during an argument.Or the friends who quickly found out I am quite fit despite my size. “Exqueeze” me for working out and eating right lol.
I had to let go of other people’s ideas of how I should look, be, or what I should do. I let go of other people’s insecurities that usually stem from the negative comments….That’s honestly the first time I felt my self esteem fly through the roof.

Karen August 24, 2013 - 12:46 PM

I have been fat and I have been skinny. Right now, I am focusing on being strong, healthy, and, yes, skinny. People constantly make comments about my eating and exercise habits. “You don’t need to work out.” “You don’t need to eat salad.” Yes, I do. And, more importantly, I WANT to. I love feeling strong. I love my skinny jeans not being tight (except on my legs, which are getting nicely muscular!). I know most people who say these things are doing so because they need to feel “OK” about being overweight. But sometimes I want to snap, “Yes, I DO need to do these things for myself because I do NOT want to be looking like you.”

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