Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Special Note on The Definition of Pride

"Fat pride? Fat people have nothing to be proud about! They didn't accomplish anything by being fat!"

The first time I heard this phrase the word "black" was used instead of fat. The second time? It was "gay". Sadly, the first time I was still in high school and I nodded in agreement, in my head trying to figure out why "black pride" was okay but "white pride" was racist. Thankfully, I managed to shake off that particular idea many many years ago as I became an adult and began recognizing that we did not, in fact, live in a post racial society as so many white kids and teens are taught. The first time I had to defend any sort of pride was in reference to gay pride. This was the point at which I realized that we were using two different definitions of pride.

See, words have a lot of meanings. It starts with one or two and picks up more over time.

Pride: pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself: civic pride. 

a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed inbearing, conduct, etc. 

Proud: having or showing self-respect or self-esteem.
*(I nixed the repetitive definitions). 

So the people who seem to have a problem with "pride" movements focus on the definitions that reflect accomplishment, doing, something. Like being proud of a job well done, or being proud of building something, or being proud of a practiced skill. But pride movements have more to do with the last definition- having or showing self respect or self esteem. See, we're not proud of being fat. They're right, most of us didn't actively put effort towards becoming this way. It's pride in yourself for daring to be okay with who you are when the rest of society tells you that there's something wrong with you.

But it's more than that. Because there's pride for accepting yourself and then there's the pride that you feel when you actively stand up for yourself and others who are oppressed, subjugated, stigmatized, and hated. You're proud, not of being fat on it's own, but of having the courage to not care, the courage to face a world every day that does it's best to beat you down. Pride for making positive changes in yourself, your loved ones, your community, and society. When even showing your face in public is an act of rebellion, when being happy as a fat person is a political statement, when just living your life happily in your own body is against everything that the bigots want you to do, then that? That's something to be proud of.

So no, fat pride isn't about having pride just for being fat, it's about fighting an oppressive culture through every tiny act of self acceptance.


  1. Bravo! I am linking this to a discussion group that I'm part of.

  2. I love this post! Fat pride is something that took me a long time to grasp simply because my self esteem was so low. I'll be sharing this one all over the place.

  3. Thanks to both of you :) After I had to explain this to people for the eleventy billionth time I figured I'd just type it out ;-)

  4. I love this so much. I've never commented before, but I follow your blog and it has helped me so much. It's a daily battle to accept myself as beautiful, but one day I want to say that I do have "fat pride"!

    I am adopting the last sentence of your post as my personal mantra. Thank you so much for all of your empowering views.


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