To celebrate Father's Day this year, Lucy Hale posted an Instagram photo of herself and her dad with the caption, "You taught me to have soul. I love you daddy." The message was sweet, but a comment she left underneath was not as well received: "ugh I was so fat."
There are a number of problems with somebody with Lucy's body type calling herself "fat." One is that she's just plain not, and labelling thin bodies "fat" encourages an unrealistic idea of what people's bodies actually look like.
The other issue with Lucy using this term alongside the word "ugh" is that "fat" shouldn't be an insult. It's just a descriptor of a body type that's larger than your average person, and people with that body type are no less attractive, healthy, or deserving of respect. Unfortunately, many Instagram users left comments along the lines of "you don't look fat, you look beautiful" — ignoring the fact that fat people can be beautiful.
Other commenters, though, hit the nail on the head. "I know you've got the right to say that, but just imagine what it's like for your fans who are a little bit bigger or struggling with their body to hear that from their idol who's obviously never been fat," wrote han.nah67.
"There are people who really are fat and who are big fans of you. That could sound offensive," added _just_dream_. "I'm one of them."
"Probably not a great thing to say that this weight was 'fat,' considering how many young girls are going to read that and get upset about their bodies," wrote paigee_larson.
Lucy's body image concerns are still valid, of course. Many people view their bodies differently from how they look to others, and thin people can certainly struggle with body negativity. But given how many people look up to Lucy as a role model, it's irresponsible of her to encourage the idea that "fat" is a negative thing. Rather than use this word as a code, celebrities (and everyone) should just say they're struggling with their self-image and save "fat" for its true meaning: as a neutral quality.
Editor's note: Lucy Hale has publicly discussed the fact that she struggled with an eating disorder. Refinery29 is not condemning nor condoning the ways in which she chooses to describe herself.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.