Today's post is prompted, once again, by a search phrase used to find my blog. It was "is calling someone fat when they are fat, bullying?". I know the inclination here is just to call this person an asshole and get on with life.. but they post a valid question- valid in that I can see why they would wonder and it is, at least, good that they've decided to research the topic which means maybe they want to change their abusive bullying ways. I can understand how people might be confused. I am fat so what's wrong with someone calling me fat? I call myself fat after all!
The thing is, when I call myself fat and when I say "fat women" or "fat men" I'm using it completely as a descriptor. And even then I only use those words here on my blog and on other FA blogs where I know people are comfortable with the term, around thin people who could benefit from hearing it in a non derogatory way, and around friends and family who are also comfortable with it. I would never use it in reference to a stranger that I was talking to if I didn't know their comfort level. I would never call someone fat, even in a non derogatory way, if I didn't know their view on the word. Why? Because people who call us fat aren't using it as a descriptor. They're using it as an insult. They're using it as a stand in word for a whole mess of other words like ugly, gross, disgusting, unattractive, stupid, lazy, glutinous, bad, immoral, poor, uneducated (the last two being classist in addition to sizist!) and many more. When people say "omg look at that fat girl!" what they're really saying is "ewwww look how fat she is! I bet she stuffs her face and lays around all day". When the average person uses the word fat- it's a judgement and it's meant to tear that person down. It's sort of like calling a gay person a "faggot". Technically they mean the same thing, but the second word is used purely derogatorily and I'm sure it's common sense that walking up to a gay kid and calling him a faggot would be bullying and, yes, hate speech.
Previously we've gotten around the F word by using words like "plus size", "larger", "curvy", "fluffy" and "BBW" (and many more). The F word has been avoided because, as I stated above, it's always been used as an insult and most people still use it and perceive it that way. The fat acceptance movement has been attempting to take the word back. To use it as a neutral term as it was originally meant. But if you're calling someone fat and meaning it as an insult in any way (check your preconceived notions and assumptions at the door please!) and/or if you don't know for sure that the person is comfortable with the term fat then yes, it's absolutely bullying. Bullying is something that is intended to hurt, degrade, belittle, and break people. It doesn't matter if they are actually fat or not (and everyone has different standards for this anyway), it is bullying when you are trying to hurt them. Similarly, if you are using the word fat on yourself in an insulting way, you are abusing yourself- this is much harder to fight because most of us have been brainwashed and abused most of our lives.. and that's what the FA world is for!