No, Fat Isn’t a Feeling. Here’s How to Find What You’re REALLY Feeling

feeling fat - sketch of a face with a serious expression, mostly black and white except for red circles on the cheeks

It is not uncommon in our culture to hear someone utter the phrase “I’m feeling fat” or “ugh, I’m having a fat day.” My question for all you warriors is: what does that really mean? Is fat really a feeling at all?

As I search the word “fat”, Google oh so gently offers me the following definitions:

1. noun

a natural oily or greasy substance occurring in animal bodies, especially when deposited as a layer under the skin or around certain organs.

2. adjective

(of a person or animal) having a large amount of excess flesh.

Beyond this Google definition is a culture that has moralized and politicized the word “fat”. It is now an ultimate insult and a catch-all word for shame, disgust, disappointment, and self loathing.

A culture of “feeling fat”

Being in the throes of challenging an eating disorder while living in a highly toxic body culture is extremely difficult. The word “fat” can seem to take on even more power. It is also not entirely uncommon for thoughts about “fat” to be attributed to “the eating disorder talking”. And although it may be true, it can also be pretty hard feedback to swallow when our minds are vibrating with the emotional impact of “feeling fat”.

A new kind of F.A.T

With these contexts in mind- I suggest breaking down the word fat into a data point for deeper understanding. So next time you “feel fat”, use this acronym of the same letters to help you figure out what you’re really feeling.

Find the Function

Instead of falling down the rabbit hole of debating, “am I or am I not fat”, I suggest we try turning inward to explore what might be happening for us emotionally.

For example, asking yourself:

  • What challenges might I be dealing with right now?
  • Am I anxious about something?
  • What vulnerabilities have I been facing today or this week?
  • Am I disappointed about something?
  • Do I feel negatively about a decision I made or an action I took?
  • Am I feeling out of control or disempowered in some way?
  • Are there other uncomfortable feeling I am sitting with?

Access your values

Once we recognize what the function of feeling fat may be – it is time to take this conversation away from our body and revisit the things that matter to us. Simply put, let us use this as a moment to check back in with our values.

  • Who am I?
  • What do I care about?
  • How am I showing up as a human being?
  • What do I believe in?
  • How can I access my values to get through this difficult moment?
  • What are the ways my values suggest I cope with this challenge?

Take a Pause

While our mind runs in circles we easily get caught up in the idea that we are fat. As we scheme on how to get away from fat – it can be pretty darn hard to think clearly. We might feel pulled to use mirrors, social media, and clothing to try and reason with these feelings.

Rather than expecting ourselves to jump from emotional reasoning to logical reasoning, can we give ourselves the space to slow down? This can and will look different for every individual.

For example: It could look like putting on a guided meditation, stepping away from the mirror to do something we care about, taking 5 minutes to focus on our breathing, reaching out to a supportive friend, journaling, playing with a pet, or using grounding skills.

Still feeling fat?

So, the next time you find yourself “feeling fat” remind yourself that fat isn’t a feeling! Then try using this handing acronym to dig deep and see what’s really under that feeling. You’ll be glad you did.

Image: @helenaperezgarcia

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