Did You Just Call Yourself Fat?


FIDM, Fashion student, fashion design, plus size, fashion institute of design and merchandising, fashion design student, fat, phat, fat?,
On my first day of history of costume I joined a class of about 50 students most of which all appeared as if their next class was a cover shoot for Vogue and all eager to join an industry in which requires skinny to be taken seriously. It was an intimidating to say the least.

My teacher who looked like a rather average white 40 something woman, asked each of us to introduce ourselves and tell us why we were present. Unfortunately she started on the other side of the room and I had about 30 minutes to stew over what the hell I was going to say. I went back and forth in my head. “I’m from Seattle and I’m here so I can learn fashion design,” or something closer to the truth “I’m Liesl Binx and I’m here so I can learn to make clothes for other fat girls like myself.” FAT? Fat? How can I say the F word with these group of people? Admitting that I was the very thing that everyone is so afraid of being? I went back and forth until I started introducing myself and it was a surreal moment. I came so far to live this moment and if I couldn’t tell the truth I might as well pack my bags and move back to Seattle. I projected to make sure everyone in the room could hear me and I said,”I’m Liesl Binx I’m from Seattle and I’m here to learn how to clothes for fat girls like myself.”

What I didn’t anticipate was my teachers response. She quickly responded almost embarrassingly (she is plus size) and informed me that most women prefer the term “rubenesque,” It was almost as if she was scolding me for saying the FAT word. I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders at her. She was supposed to be elated that a proud fat girl like me had made it to the pearly gates of fashion school in a city that actually has a fashion district, but instead she seemed confused. By the end of my day I imagined that her confusion spawned from my letting the room in on the secret that she and I were fat. Like I had let the cat out of the bag and admitted defeat. I remember feeling this very same way. In sophomore year of high school we had to fill out this sheet of questions in which one of the questions was ‘what is your worst fear?’ Mine : Being Fat

If it had been a few years earlier I would have had the same response as Ms. Rubenesque did. I had challenged her idea of what her self-image stood upon by rejecting that being fat is a flaw. This is when I realized the full power of the word fat and why I continue to use it and challenge people’s ideas of what fat means.


12 thoughts on “Did You Just Call Yourself Fat?

  1. What a great post. As someone who finished fashion school her self, as well as gained many many pounds, the f-word is something that I am familiarizing with myself. I think no matter what size we are, (and it doesn’t matter) many of us struggle to accept ourselves.

    I love how much you love yourself. It is very inspiring.

    Best wishes and happy designing!


  2. During my master’s for writing, I started studying the language surrounding fat bodies, fat acceptance, fat activist bloggers, etc. I think I must have said the word “fat” about 50,000 times, and it was somewhat amazing to see the amount of people who membership with that word. I had a professor who started aligning herself with it, when I never would have thought that she saw herself as fat. Love this post (and I may have spent a good time reading all your other ones too!).

    1. Thanks for commenting, that is really cool when sometimes it seems the membership to the word is small! 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed! I’d love to hear about what you learned during your studies! I love your style btw!

  3. Generally I don’t learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice post.

  4. I simply couldn’t depart your web site prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed the usual info a person supply in your visitors? Is going to be again frequently in order to check up on new posts

  5. I aint mad at you Liesl!!:) I like how you took a stand. Sometimes hearing the word fat from other people makes me cringe. I guess being a fat girl myself I have my own definition of what fat is. Yes I am “fat” but I have also lost over 40 lb, i work out 3-5 x a week and I’m in overall good health. I think the word has been used negatively for so long, it may take a while to clear up that notion. But I applaud you 🙂

  6. Great article! You’re very brave for what you’ve set out to accomplish and I wish you much success. I recently wrote about the word “curvy” in my blog Curvy Girl PHX and how it’s been redefined over the years. And more recently, adopted by the plus-size industry. I personally feel that it’s being misused. I see “fat” women coined as curvy every day in social media and I applaud your courage to use it appropriately instead of masking it to sound better. I happen to be Hispanic and this reminds me of when I was called Spanish instead of Mexican because the person who referred to me as Spanish felt it sounded less offensive. Mexican is my heritage and I’m a proud Latina, but somewhere down the line the word became “bad” and has an negative connotation. Keep up the good work and stay true to what you believe is right. Happy Holidays! 🙂

  7. While some people find the word “fat” or the twist on “fashion” to “fatshion”, others still associate it with negativity. It took me more years than I care to remember to learn talk to myself in a positive way that didn’t include the term “fat”, I fought to remove it from my vocabulary; so being called fat by someone else, even if they mean it in a positive way, is hard to swallow for some of us. I’m not saying you are in the wrong, but I’m also saying she isn’t in the wrong, either. It’s all about what we’re personally comfortable with and, clearly, she’s not comfortable with that word.

    1. Everyone has the right to define their own identities, and I was not saying my teacher needs to call herself fat. I was defining myself as fat and she took issue with that. Everyone is at a different location on their path to self love and I respect that.
      For many many years I hated the word fat and I also hated my body. It wasn’t until I started examining the word fat and asking myself why it was so bad that I was able to start the process of accepting/loving my body.
      To use the word fat in a positive way to me and many others is absolute liberation. It’s a big fuck you to everyone an everything that has told us being fat is something to be ashamed and afraid of! Acknowledging fatness, loving ourselves and being fabulous upsets a society in which expects us to be afraid of being fat/ using the word fat positively.

      1. I can understand that perspective, but for me being called fat or calling myself fat isn’t liberating, it actually makes me think back to all the times it was said in a mean way to me over the years and it hurts. For me, it’s very different and I’m so glad that you’re able to view it differently, I sincerely hope that if I have a daughter someday she’s able to just love her body minus all of the issues I had to work through. Uhg, why can’t society and the media just tell us to love ourselves and that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes?

  8. I guess you need to re-educate her on what most women prefer — pretty sure most women don’t prefer “rubenesque”. While there is nothing wrong with the word she used and I am sure women do use it. I think what she really meant was she preferred “rubenesque”. It’s too bad you didn’t shoot back “I prefer fat”. There is definitely nothing wrong with using the word fat, it is all in the tone right. Good for you. You have nothing to be embarrassed by. I hope the class turns out to be informative and that you get to use the word “fat” a lot more. LOL

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