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Does this name make me look fat? (Why “fatgirlism” needs to stop.)

Date: January 27, 2014 | Posted By: Elizabeth

At Thanksgiving this year, my aunt said I shouldn’t go by “Beth” because it’s “a fat girl’s name”. And before that, when a family friend named his kid Maddie, my brother cringed and said, “I can’t believe he named her that—it just sounds like a fat-girl name!”

If you’re appalled and confused by these judgments, join the club.  Last time I checked, names have nothing to do with weight. We all know that people named Maddie and Beth come in all different shapes and sizes. So why all the “fatgirlism”?

According to Urban Dictionary, “fatgirlism” is defined as an obsession with eating food, regardless of weight. “Fat girl” can either be a noun meaning someone “undesirable” or a verb meaning to do something lazy or to impede “more attractive” people from enjoying themselves.

This meme sends the preposterous message that fat girls can't be attractive or have skinny friends.

This meme sends the preposterous message that fat girls can’t be attractive or have skinny friends.

Even the acronym “DUFF” has been invented to stand for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. The stereotypical fat friend eats her friends’ food, has a traditional or simple name, remains single, and serves as a constant reminder that those around her are more socially accepted. Are you over it? So am I.

Though this outright name-calling isn’t in everyone’s vocabulary yet, the mentality behind it is—remember Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect? From the outside, she serves as the comic relief with a spunky, vivacious personality and humorous indifference about food and exercise. Yet truly, Fat Amy’s role is to perpetuate the fat-girl mentality. As the only “fat girl” in the entire movie, Fat Amy’s name, actions, and demeanor just feed into society’s stereotype of the fat, kindhearted sidekick.

It's Fat Amy, not just Amy.

It’s Fat Amy, not just Amy.

And Fat Amy is not the only “fat girl” friend who has been in movies or on TV—think Mercedes from Glee, Jane from Drop Dead Diva, and Sookie St. James from Gilmore Girls, to name a few.

“Fat-girl names” exist because of “fatgirlism.” If we stop associating certain characteristics with certain female sizes and names, we can prevent the unwanted judgment and negativity that come with the fat girl stereotype.

And once the fat-girl stereotype dies, the fat name stereotype will soon follow suit. The world needs to realize that not all “fat girls” (whatever that really means) have certain names, have certain relationships with food, have certain personality types, and are unhealthy.

“Fat girls,” after all, are girls. And as girls, we come with all different stories and personalities and body types.

You with me on this one? Let’s crush this fatgirlism once and for all.

Elizabeth Frankel is a Minnesotan who loves psychology, theatre, and anything related to horses. She seeks to understand why the world is the way it is through critical thinking, and when that fails, she just employs sarcasm.




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One Response to Does this name make me look fat? (Why “fatgirlism” needs to stop.)

  1. Esther on 02-04-2014

    I like to implore my critical thinking skills. This is about stereotypes. Sometimes they are funny because they seem to be true. But it's also about prejudice. It's about judging a person based on their appearance. You can judge someone also based on their personality and make assumptions about them but that isn't fair. I have been tearing down the assumptions in my mind. Like the assumption that when a blonde says something stupid she is dumb. I am blonde. I once dyed my hair brown because I wanted to be taken a little more serious! Now isn't that funny! I love being a blonde and I can't say we have more fun because we don't. You have more fun when you are happy...not blonde! My daughter name is Bethany...Beth for short. I never heard that stereotype about that name before. What about Esther? People use to tease me because of my name when I was young and I didn't like my name. Now I do because it's different!
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