Roxane Gay is fat.
She knows it, we know it, and trolls all over the internet know it. The problem is that last group of people, who use the word as an insult — as if fat is the worst possible thing she could be.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Gay clapped back at the people who spit the word "fat" at her behind their keyboards. First, by retweeting their tweets with a simple affirmation that yes, she is fat. And then by speaking out about what "fat" really means.
"I must admit that when I think that a man somewhere gets online to tell me I am fat, I die laughing. Like wow. What free time," Gay wrote in a tweet.
Her comment sparked a conversation about their use of the word and her use of the word. To Gay, "fat" is not an insult. It's a descriptor.
Fat is not an insult. It is a descriptor. And when you interpret it as an insult, you reveal yourself and what you fear most.— roxane gay (@rgay) June 14, 2017
While it's true that the word itself is not insulting, some commenters responded that the people who often call other people fat mean it as an insult. So it's not so much the word itself, but the intent behind it.
There are times when intent is clear. Innocuous words can sting when you can tell what's behind them.— SarekHoll (@SarekHoll) June 14, 2017
Gay, however, tweeted that as a fat woman who often hears the word used as an insult, she's well-aware that intent can make any word insulting. She reclaims the word for herself, she explained, and that takes the power out of it.
Guys. I understand the word fat used as an insult. I mean.... I know! I live it daily. You don't need to explain it to me.— roxane gay (@rgay) June 14, 2017
I am just trying to reframe the word for myself, my sanity, and others.— roxane gay (@rgay) June 14, 2017
Of course, while we understand Gay's intent in reframing the word for both herself and others, her proclamation that the word isn't offensive may not sit with all people.
Some have had the word "fat" thrown at them too many times to reclaim it for themselves. And that's fine, too. The words we use to identify ourselves are incredibly personal, and "plus-size" or "curvy" may just seem like a better fit.
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