Let Them Speak Cake: Guardian Writer Creates Own Language for Fat People

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By Anna Rhodes | 1:33 pm, October 26, 2016
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A “fat activist” Guardian writer has created her own language – especially for fat people.

Charlotte Cooper took to the pages of Comment Is Free to explain that she came up with a “homemade dictionary” of terms to talk about fatness.

She said her goal is to “reclaim words that are frequently used pejoratively” and lists a sample from her full-length book, called Fat Activist Vernacular.

For instance, her eight-sentence definition of “belly” concludes: “A delightful, gorgeous thing, a source of physical power much maligned and fretted over. Important resource in gut-barging competitions.”

Here’s some others:

A way of talking about energy that you get through eating food. An obsession. A pretty name for a girl child.

A fat athlete.

A person who is not fat. A person who is better-looking, healthier, more intelligent, more likely to succeed in life, sexier, more lovable and better to be with than any fat person. A very good and virtuous and normal person.

Fat upper arms that get more wobbly and loose with age. Source of power.

Cooper says she wants to wrest back the language of fatness from “academics and professionals”, who she suggests are not the right people to dominate discussion of people’s weight.

She said: “Medics and their allies will use some Latin or Greek to make their language appear authoritative and scientific. According to them I am obese, or someone requiring bariatric intervention.”

Cooper said that by normalising being fat, she wants to “improve” fat people’s mental health. Though she appears keen to avoid acknowledging that encouraging people to stay fat has its own consequences for their mental and physical health.

With 31.2 per cent of children under 15 classed as either overweight or obese, this cannot be wise.

She also uses her article to reveal that language can only go so far. Cooper says she is working on a piece of obesity-themed contemporary dance called But Is It Healthy? 

The performance, which will be at a museum in London, is her attempt to deal with that question, which is “impossible to answer with words… So I will dance the answer instead!”