Being cooped up in your house for three months is definitely not an idyllic state and it ends up
bringing fresh waves of anxiety and stress for many. I’ve been fortunate to be quarantined at my
house with my family rather than being alone on campus. I love spending time with my family
and I absolutely adore my mom’s cooking – it’s the only thing that makes quarantine bearable.
However, everything comes with its ups and downs.
My parents mean well but being locked under the same roof with them brings on new anxieties
for me, the foremost one being their inherent fatphobia. Almost every other day my parents and
I go through a back and forth of arguments over my weight and diets and exercise, or the lack
thereof. I do my best to stand my ground, because I’ve finally come to a stage where I’m starting
to love my body, but these constant battles often wear me down.
Which is why I couldn’t have started reading The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and
Fierce at a better time.
The (Other) F Word is a collection of stories that includes essays, poetry, prose, illustrations and
so much more by fat people from all walks of life. This book has especially been cultivated
keeping in mind teen readers with an aim to instill them with self-confidence and love for their fat bodies.
What I love the most about this book is that it’s not like any other anthologies where all the
contributors are white and straight. Instead we get to hear from diverse voices who are queer,
black, poc, disabled and come from so many different backgrounds.
A large number of these stories brought tears to my eyes because I could see myself reflected
in them. A lot of the authors talk about coming from families and societies where fatphobia was
deep-seated and thinness was the norm. The shame and anxiety surrounding fatness and the
difficult journey of loving your body described in their narratives, is what I could relate the most
to. I still struggle to love my body. Some days I feel confident and upbeat and wear crop-tops
without shame while other days I just want to hide myself under flabby oversized clothes.
Reading these beautiful stories of the journeys of self-acceptance, confidence and love fills me
with hope and pride. Pride for these people who I read about, pride for my body and pride for
every fat person on this planet. A lot of these stories were inherently love letters from the
authors to their bodies and I feel blessed to be able to read them.
Some of my favourite stories were where writing and fatness intersected. In Write Something
Fat by Sarah Hollowell we are encouraged to write fat characters. Just because we don’t see
them in stories doesn’t mean they can’t be written! This especially hit home because until
recently none of the characters I wrote about were fat because the thought honestly didn’t come
to my mind, thanks to being brainwashed about thinness being the norm. Similarly, in How to Be
a Star of Your Own Fat Rom-Com, Lily Anderson encourages fat people to see themselves as
the main character worthy of having their own love story rather than being the fat side-kick
who’s there just for gags.
Does This Poem Make Me Look Fat by Miguel M. Morales is another beautiful piece that is a
sort of waking call and of course, a play on the anxious thought a lot of fat people have.
Elephant, Hippo, and Other Nicknames I Love by Jes Baker also struck a chord because similar
to reclaiming the word fat, the author goes on to reclaim all the fatphobic nicknames she is
given, something that I’ve recently been doing in my life as well.
I finished reading this book some time ago but the sense of pride and all the emotions attached
to these stories have stayed with me till date. I also didn’t stop at reading this book and went on
to follow a lot of these fat creators on different social media platforms. Every time I see their
posts on Instagram or my Twitter feed I smile to myself. I didn’t even realise that my feeds were
lacking fat representation until I started following these beautiful people. It has all been a
therapeutic process for me, a kind of self-care.
All I can really say is that every fat person is bound to see a glimpse of themselves in at least
one of these narratives and I would especially urge fat teens to pick up this book . For me,
reading The (Other) F Word has been a stepping stone in my ongoing journey of loving my body