I was watching a TV show the other day and I heard a question that really caught me off guard, so much so that I can't stop thinking about it. The guy on the show asked, "Is fat an emotion?"
Hmmm. Good question! Now the obvious answer is no, but I would like to refrain from a final answer until we flesh it out a bit.
What is the definition of the word emotion? After looking it up, I’ve settled on the idea that emotion is “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” So, according to this definition we could make a case for fat being an emotion. I am aware that the process of becoming fat is not an emotion, but I look at it from the point of view of someone who has always been fat. My moods and relationships with others have been directly affected by my weight. I have chosen to be in certain relationships because of how I felt. I’ve maintained relationships I should not have because of my weight. Growing up I would definitely have described fat as an emotion, in the way that it described a mood for me. I imagine the child in many of overweight adults can relate.
While I was watching the movie "Inside Out" I could totally see a character named "Fat." She would be moody, shifting back and forth between happy and sad. She would be kinda frumpy looking and not overly concerned with her appearance. She would constantly try to change herself in hopes of getting the other "feelings" to like her.
We have to look at the deeper issue though. Are we fat, or do we feel fat? They are two different things. I am fat, and even though I have lost a lot of weight, I am still fat. But a person can weigh 120 pounds and say, "I feel fat." Now, us actually classified obese ladies laugh on the inside. We say to our 120-pound friend who says she feels fat that we only dream of feeling her kind of fat. But to her, the feeling of “fat” is real. We let looking fat or thin define how we feel about ourselves. We let those feelings dictate our mood. We allow our self-perception of being fat to cloud our view of the outside world, and in turn it makes us feel some kinda way.
Even Facebook has fat listed as an emotion but to them, fat is chubby cheeks and a big happy smile. I guess the people at Facebook have never really felt fat! Because feeling fat is certainly not a pleasant feeling.
No, fat is not an emotion in the technical sense, but when we say we are feeling fat we really are saying something. What we mean is that we are feeling isolated, sad, defeated, depressed, and basically, like a failure. I know for me, when I said I was feeling fat it meant that I was feeling all these emotions at once. Dealing with just one of them is hard, but facing all of these feelings at once just becomes too much and then the catchphrase comes out like a swear—"I feel fat!"
So what do we do about it? I’ve learned to identify the emotions I’m feeling and separate them from the fat feeling. I recognize that it is not the fat that causes my emotions. Instead, I choose the way I respond to the fat. It is by no means an easy thing to do. I still have days when I feel fat—usually when I have skipped working out or gone way off the diet. But I try very hard to reaffirm to myself how far I have come. I remind myself of what I can do now that I could not do a year and a half ago. It also really helps to separate my feelings and deal with them individually. Am I feeling tired after a hectic day? Am I nervous about trying something new, or am I stressed over a deadline? Whatever it is, identifying what I’m feeling and why helps me get to the real issue and overcome it. I’ve stopped lumping my emotions together and leaving them to grow stronger under the fat feeling, and you can, too. Whether you think fat is an emotion or not, look the fat feeling right in the eye, and kick it out of your life.