“People of Size” is Horseshit.

Just heard fat people referred to as “People of Size.”

My first thought: “What the fuck?”

My second thought: I see what you did here. “Fat People” sounds, at first blush, a little bit offensive. Fat people have been stigmatized in the past several decades to the point where the term “fat” doesn’t just mean that a person has accumulated an excessive amount of adipose tissue. To the ignorant, it can connote laziness, gluttony, irresponsibility, and a whole laundry list of moral and social defects that are, of course, meant to be roundly condemned and frowned upon. Quite in fact, I have had more than a few people express to me their discomfort about this website’s tag line: “I turn fat people into regular-sized people.”

Here's a screen shot of me telling you that you're kind of fat.

Here’s a screen shot of me telling you that you’re kind of fat.

Luckily, what those people think of this website’s tag line is none of my business, and so the line stays like it is: direct, honest, and simple. If you are fat (which, if you’ll remember, means only that you’ve accumulated an excessive amount of adipose tissue) I can make you regular-sized. Direct, honest, and simple.

Not only is it wrong to call fat people “People of Size,” but worse yet, it doesn’t even make any sense. It’s Non-Sense. Anyone who has any mass at all is a “person of size.” Every human is also a person of height, a person of color, a person of carbon, and whole list of things that do not even begin to usefully describe the person about whom you’re talking.

Call him what you want; ManBearPig must be stopped.

Call him what you want; ManBearPig must be stopped.

So in an honest, well-meaning-yet-misguided attempt to de-stigmatize the people referred to as “fat,” you’ve stigmatized them even more by drawing even more attention to their condition. Yes, you’re being sensitive and appropriate; no, you’re not helping anyone. Yes, you’re sparing people’s feelings; no, you’re not helping anyone. Yes, you’re being correct; no you’re not helping.

Yet the term “fat” is avoided because, as I mentioned before, it carries many negative connotations.

Here’s the problem: If you don’t know where you are, you will have a hard time getting to where you’re going. Nobody would use a euphemism for a physical location and expect good results. If I’m at 1604 E University street in Bloomington, IN (shout-out to the college house!), I know exactly where I am, and that’s a literal, direct, honest assessment of my current location. From this starting point, I can easily use a map to get where I want to go.

Better stock up; those amateurs don't sell on Sundays.

Better stock up; those amateurs don’t sell on Sundays.

But imagine if I referred to my location using euphemisms. If I’m “Bloomington-centered” or “A member of the Indiana region,” I have no clue exactly where I am, no way to get on the right roads, will drive around in circles for a while, and will very quickly decide to just stay where I am and try to perform mental gymnastics to feel good about it, mumbling something about how Big Red Liquors was “probably closed anyway.”

If you’re “broke,” well, okay, that’s not so bad. That’s not really something you are, that’s a circumstance, and circumstances can readily be altered and improved. You begin to correctly imagine that this is temporary and make a plan to get out of debt or increase your income. If you’re “disadvantaged” or “poor,” that’s something that you are, regardless of circumstances. Something you are is not readily changed; you identify with it, you lose your motivation, and you feel sorry for yourself. You begin to wrongly imagine that this is permanent while insisting that others not call attention to your condition.

If you’re “a heavy drinker,” well, okay, that’s not so bad. That’s not really something you are, that’s a circumstance, and circumstances can readily be altered and improved. You begin to correctly imagine that this is temporary and make a plan to take a break from drinking, or at least stop drinking before noon. If you’re “an alcoholic” or “a bum,” that’s something that you are, regardless of circumstances. Something you are is not readily changed; you identify with it, you lose your motivation, and you feel sorry for yourself. You begin to wrongly imagine that this is permanent while insisting that others not call attention to your condition.

If you’re “fat,” well, okay, that’s not so bad. That’s not really something you are, that’s a circumstance, and circumstances can readily be altered and improved. You begin to correctly imagine that this is temporary and make a plan to get “not-fat;” to become “regular-sized.” If you’re “Husky,” “Big-Boned,” or “A Person of Size,” that’s something that you are, regardless of circumstances. Something you are is not readily changed; you identify with it, you lose your motivation, and you feel sorry for yourself. You begin to wrongly imagine that this is permanent while insisting that others not call attention to your condition.

And even if you’re a heavy drinker who’s fat and broke, that’s way better than being a Disadvantaged Alcoholic of Size:

 

"I'm the Devil!"

“I’m the Devil!”

Honesty is important—not just in theory, but also in practice. We must always call things by their names, even when it’s socially uncomfortable. We must tell the truth. We must not become so concerned about people’s precious feelings that we allow ourselves to be dishonest and misleading.

Not only is it wrong, but worse yet: it doesn’t even make any sense.