Fat is largely understood and used in the United States as a slur. It’s usually used to hurt or judge someone or to speak badly or pityingly of them. Few people use the word with love, affection, or respect. People go to extraordinary lengths to stay as far away from this word as possible: fasting, refusing to eat delicious things like ice cream or maple donuts filled with espresso Bavarian cream, living with body shame and hatred, or pushing their bodies to exercise past the point of enjoyment. In fact, it’s estimated that in the United States, forty-five million people go on a diet every year. That’s a little more than one out of every ten people. Many—maybe even most—people who diet do so primarily because they are afraid of being considered fat.

This essay may be found on page 89 of the printed volume.

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