How many times have you, or someone you know, said, “I feel fat”? Did you know that fat is not one the recognized emotions? Generally recognized primary emotions are: fear, anger, sadness, joy, contempt, surprise, and disgust (give or take one or two). These emotions can be found across most (if not all) cultures. Even if we look at generally recognized secondary emotions, fat is not listed.
So why do people say this so often and what does it really mean? Are they describing a physical sensation associated with bloating or edema? Maybe some of the time.
Merriam-Webster defines fat as: having a lot of extra flesh on your body : having a full, rounded form: unusually wide or thick. That doesn’t sound like an emotion. If you do an internet search for “fat emotion”, all that really comes up is “fat emoticon”.
According to a Huffington post blog: Fat is not a feeling – Facebook recently came under fire for giving the option of “fat” under feelings in the status/post section. Does that mean that Facebook believes that fat is an emotion? Are they endorsing the idea or somehow lobbying for fat to become an accepted emotion?
What are we really feeling when we say that we feel fat? More often than not, it is an expression of discomfort, sadness, disgust with one’s self, self-contempt, maybe even anger. There may also be some shame and guilt (possibly for being hungrier than usual the day before). So “feeling fat” is some combination of really uncomfortable emotions.
What happens when we say – “I’m feeling fat”? People reassure us that we aren’t fat, right? Many of us have told others that it looks as though they are feeling sad. Have you ever said to someone, “Looks like you’re feeling fat today.”? Of course not. How often do you tell others that they make you feel sad, disgusted, and that you hold contempt for them? Those are really strong words (and feelings).
Wait. Let’s take this a step further. What if you said, “I feel sad, disgusted with myself, and even some self-contempt”? Phew! That’s pretty heavy stuff (definitely not intending a pun). How would it feel to say those things? How would others respond? And what would you say to someone who told you they were feeling this way? My guess is that you would comfort them. You would ask if there was anything you could do for them. So why not, instead of heading down the path of “I feel fat”, ask yourself first, what am I really feeling? And then, what do I need, what might soothe and comfort me?