Sunday, February 17, 2008



written by Carrie Stroud April 2007

Fat. It's such an ugly word. Or so I thought.

Fat is the word that is defined in the dictionary as “having too much flabby tissue; plump; well-fed; corpulent; obese; a fat person; plentifully supplied; abounding in a particular element.” Surprisingly, I have to say that I think some definitions don't actually sound that bad. So for that, and many other reasons, I feel that it is my duty to dispel the myth of what the word “fat” really is, and what it should really mean to us as mothers raising our children. And so begins my ranting to prove to the world that fat can really mean fantastic.

Yesterday I was at an Italian restaurant in Seattle that had some incredible photographs from Italy on the wall. I have to say that over half of the photographs hanging in this particular restaurant would be defined as a “fat person” picture. There was the fat man eating the meatballs. There was a fat baby sitting on the beach (incredibly cute), there was a fat and voluptuous woman in her 1940's glamorous attire, and then there was “her” - a woman in her early 40's facing the ocean wearing a black bikini that only accentuated every roll and cottage cheese-like ripple.

When I stared at this 5X7 picture hanging beside our little Italian restaurant booth, my first reaction was astonishment at how she had the guts to wear something so skimpy when it didn't exactly do anything for her...uhm...curves. Then I began to examine the picture as I usually do because of the fact that I am a photographer, after all. She was in the middle of the frame and in focus which was pleasing to the eye, it was in black and white which I love, I estimated that it was taken in the early 1950's due to the way the paper looked in the frame, and she was obviously – no hiding the truth – no way to get around saying it – fat. But still, I was fascinated by her.

What I loved about her in general is that you could see what she looked like when she was skinny twenty years ago. You could see her small frame in her shape and in her bones. She simply had layers over them. Layers of the third and then fourth child around her stomach. Layers of that amazing gelato (Italian ice cream) around her arms. Layers of a little less stair climbing when she bought a house down the street around her thighs. The layers all added up to what now defined her as fat. But my gosh, I loved her.

I loved her because she was looking out into the ocean with such a surety and peace. I loved her because her hands rested on her hips as though she knew why she was there and what she was about to do. I loved her because she wore a bikini when she shouldn't have and didn't seem to care. She knew what she looked like and knew how she got there and knew that it was okay. It was okay to be her, even though she was fat.

My daughter cracked a big smile and giggled into her hands when she saw the photograph at the Italian restaurant. I asked her why she was laughing and she simply said in a whisper, “because she's fat.” Ordinarily I would give her the “mommy talk” and tell her not to say that and that it's rude and untrue. But wait, it was true. The woman in the photograph was fat by all dictionary definitions and worldly standards. This was the moment of truth when I as a mother needed to chime in with my words of wisdom and instill in her everything about fat people that I was never raised to believe. And so I simply said, “Yes she is. And I think she is beautiful.” There is one definition of the word fat in the dictionary that I forgot to mention; “the richest or best part of anything.”

Fat. It's such a fantastic word.


Kristie and Ryan said...

i love that! "the best and richest part of anything." beautiful.

and hey, good luck! maybe you'll inspire me to get off my rear and do something, too. love you!

Hillybug said...

good luck, let me know if it works! erica said that after a year you have to stop calling it baby fat and start calling it your fat. . .unfortunately i'm there.

Rachel said...

Did Erik tell you all about Body for Life? He tells everyone about it! We started doing it again about 6 weeks ago and so far it's been going pretty good but I'm not a disciplined as I need to be but it's definitely a better way to live. Good luck with it! And remember that free day is the best day EVER!

Nick and Jessie said...

Adam and Josiah took a picture just like the one described in your story and sent it to me while on my mission. The only difference was it was taken in 2000and Josiah was standing behind the "heavy set" lady in the bikini! You know, fat jokes aren't so funny any more now that I'm not longer skinny myself! It really just becomes sad. :(

Jen O said...

You've inspired me! There comes a point when you have to embrace your curves, although I could do with a few less curves on my own body. :-) I come from a long line of what I call "sturdy" "Twiggies" on my side of the family. I know I'll never be skinny, but I know I'll always be strong. Good luck, Beautiful.

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