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.
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.
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.