Talking about fat and fat bodies is a tricky area to navigate in English because the word FAT is so laden with meaning, associations, emotions, and feelings — and these are different for everyone. In this episode, you’ll hear a wide variety of people who self-identify as fat talking about their experiences. You’ll hear how they think, feel and talk about their own bodies and how they experience things as a person of size. There are many registers (styles) of English represented here, as well as many different regional dialects. Links to all sources are provided, and most of these are videos. I encourage you to watch the videos to see the language being used in context. A transcript preview is below. You can find a pdf of the full transcript here: https://www.betteratenglish.com/052-the-other-f-word-talking-about-fat-transcript
I hope you find this episode thought provoking and useful.
Hi English learners, Lori here, your teacher from betteratenglish.com. In today’s episode you are going to hear various people’s thoughts, opinions and feelings related to the f-word. No, not the swear word you hear all the time in movies and TV. I’m talking about the other F-word: fat. Yes, fat.
Madison A Krall
Let’s talk about fat bias and thin privilege | Madison A. Krall | TEDxMileHigh
Madison: When you hear the word fat what thoughts and images come to mind? Some of you might think of fat as the extra 10 pounds you’re currently trying to lose. Others might be thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what the fat content was in the bag of potato chips I had for lunch?” And some of you when you hear the word fat, might think back to that time in middle school when someone called you fat, and how it has affected the rest of your life. Let’s just admit it. Fat can be a pretty loaded word, no matter who you are.
Kelli Jean Drinkwater
Enough with the fear of fat | Kelli Jean Drinkwater
Kelli: I’m here today to talk to you about a very powerful little word, one that people will do almost anything to avoid becoming. Billion-dollar industries thrive because of the fear of it, and those of us who undeniably are it are left to navigate a relentless storm surrounding it. I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, but I’m fat. Not the lowercase, muttered-behind-my-back kind, or the seemingly harmless chubby or cuddly. I’m not even the more sophisticated voluptuous or curvaceous kind. Let’s not sugarcoat it. I am the capital F-A-T kind of fat. I am the elephant in the room.
Fat | Eating Disorders | One Word | Cut
Speaker 1: There are lots of good fats, and I don’t think fat on your body is a bad thing. And I don’t think fat in your food means fat on your body but it’s been used as hate speech.
Speaker 2: Fat can be a hateful word. It can destroy some people. But in some ways fat can be good. And depending on how you image yourself, your fat can actually be great.
Speaker 3: I see a lot of mothers with their daughters say, don’t eat that or else you’re gonna get fat. It’s like, is that really the one thing that you don’t want your daughter to be?
Yes, a fat is a loaded word that raises a lot of feelings, emotions, and associations. I’m taking a risk with this episode, because, as you’ll hear, conversations around fat and body size can quickly lead you into precarious territory, even if you have the best of intentions. It’s a highly charged topic. But I think that’s all the more reason to understand different people’s perspectives on fat and being fat, and to have language to talk about it sensitively.
Apart from vocabulary related to the topic, in this episode you’ll hear many registers or styles of English: conversations, extracts from prepared talks like TED talks, segments from interviews, and even monologues from people on Youtube. You’ll also hear many regional varieties of English, as well as at least one non-native speaker of English.
All in all, you will hear a wide variety of authentic English, illustrating many of the ways people talk, think and feel about fat bodies. You’ll also be hearing people describe concepts such as body positivity, body shaming, concern trolling, and lots general vocabulary related to the overall topic.
I have put links to all the sources you are going to hear in the transcript for this episode, which you can find at betteratenglish.com/transcripts . They all come from videos, so I encourage you to follow the links so you can see as well as hear the language in context.
So let’s get started. We’ll begin with a question. Is it appropriate to tell someone, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” At first glance, it seems like it could be a compliment. But is it really? I’m going to play an extract from the podcast “Inappropriate questions.” Listening to this podcast is what sent me down the rabbit hole of inquiry that led to this episode. In this podcast, the two hosts, Elena and Harv, talk to people who identify as fat or plus size to find out what they think about this question.
Elena is from the U.S.A., and Harv is from India. They start off by talking about people’s general attitudes toward weight in their different home countries.
Inappropriate Questions podcast
Harv, when you were growing up in India, what were people’s attitudes about weight like?
Oh, India had different beauty standard, at least at that time…
So if somebody was a little, what is considered an overweight here [it] was considered good. Because that person had enough money to eat food.
So so they used to use the word healthy. Then again, things have changed there as well, because again, obesity have, has become a problem in India. So again, the attitudes have changed. But at that time, it was very, very different.
Huh! That’s interesting. Do you think right now India’s beauty standards are kind of, like, the way they are here? [In the U.S.A.]
Pretty much, pretty much.
So thinness is really valued.
And thinness is kind of associated with beauty and health.
Yeah, all those good things you, you know, even if you don’t go to the gym, it’s assumed that…
…you work out.
Yes. You get the automatic
benefit of the doubt.
I love seeing more body positive stuff on the internet these days. I love seeing people who are trying to encourage more self love and self care. But sometimes I can’t put that into practice. I go home and I look at Instagram. And then I look at myself in the mirror. And I’m like, I know in my head that every body is beautiful. But then I look at my body. I’m like, no, I still feel bad about it.
So sometimes they say ignorance is bliss.
Where I am, millennials have a whole lot of tools. The social media tools.
All I have is a mirror.
That helps me tie my turban.
Yeah, so I don’t even look at my body.
Next you’ll hear Elena and Harv talking to a woman of size for her perspective on the question “Have you lost weight?” Her name is Steph Conover, but she likes to go by her state name, Ivory. Here is how Ivory describes herself:
I am a mixed-race, six-foot, dragon lady. I’m a fire breather, stage performer, and a whole lot of woman.
Ivory is also an athlete, a plus size model, and is an active promoter of self love and body positivity. You’ll hear more about body positivity later. In the following extract, you’ll hear what Ivory thinks about the question “Have you lost weight?” You’ll also hear her talk about what it was like growing up and living in a larger body, and how the way she describes her own body has evolved over time.
Can you tell us about a time someone asked you, “Have you lost weight?”
Oh boy. It happens all the time. It happens so often that I actually don’t take it in anymore.
You know, I’ll style my hair differently. I’ll wear a different article of clothing. And people think that it’s complimentary to say Wow, you look great! Have you lost weight? And it’s weird because as somebody who’s recovered from eating disorders, as somebody who still battles depression, there’s part of me that actually has that instant boost of serotonin where I go, “Ah! I look great! I’m skinny”
[Sounds of sympathy]
I’m like, “Bitch, you are a plus sized lady, you have not lost any weight and if you have it will probably find you and that’s okay. You can exist at whatever size you exist at and be happy there.”
END TRANSCRIPT PREVIEW
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