With Will Ross
Meaning of Life
Many people, maybe even you, believe they are fat. This is a very common misconception. There is nobody in the world who is fat.
I realise that this might sound strange when you look around and see obesity in a significant portion of the population, but I repeat my main contention: there is nobody in the world who is fat. I will add that there is nobody in the world who is obese either.
How can I say that? Surely I am contradicting myself? The answer lies in the words that we use.
Consider the statement "two plus two is four". The word 'is' means equals. In other words, "two plus two is four," means exactly the same as "two plus two equals four, no more and no less". So wherever the word 'is' appears, we can substitute 'equals, no more and no less'. This applies to all forms of the verb 'to be' (eg. am, are, be, being, was, were etc).
Now consider Mrs Brown. She is a teacher. If we are to be consistent, the statement "Mrs Brown is a teacher" means "Mrs Brown equals a teacher, no more and no less". The trouble with this statement is that it ignores all the times that she isn't teaching. It ignores the times when she plays golf, eats, watches television, picks her nose or makes love to husband's best friend.
The same applies when you say "I am fat". This means that you equal fat, no more and no less. It ignores everything else about you. It means that you are only fat, nothing else. We can very easily disprove that nonsense. If you were only fat (no more and no less) there are many things you couldn't do - walk, talk, shop, etc - but you do all these things and more. Whenever you do something - such as breathe - you are doing more than just 'being' fat. You can't just 'be' fat without also 'being' something else - a breather, for example. Therefore you are not fat; instead, you are a unique, complex individual.
A second problem with the statement "I am fat" is that it confuses a characteristic - or trait - with your identity. Instead of describing you, it defines you. You become, not just someone with more weight than you want, but nothing more than your size and weight. Your whole identity gets changed into a description of your size. Your humanity, your life, your existence gets limited to your weight. You are no longer a person with excess weight; you are your weight. To put it another way; your weight is you.
The above arguments might seem pedantic, but several good reasons exist for avoiding expressions (and particularly thoughts) such as "I am fat".
Firstly, you are less likely to condemn and hate yourself once you differentiate between your size and your identity. From now on you may dislike your size; but there is no reason why you must hate yourself. Your weight and you are not the same thing, so you can view them differently.
Secondly, because you are not your excess weight, you can attack your weight as though it were an outsider. Your weight isn't you, so you can despise it without destroying your self-esteem. Like a wart on the end of your nose, you can want to get rid of it, without your whole identity or existence being under attack.
Thirdly, you can decide to live with your size. Just as there is no moral imperative to cut the wart from your nose, there is no moral imperative to lose weight. Your weight isn't you; it's only a part of you, which you can decide to change or to leave alone.
Fourthly, deciding that you are not fat can liberate you from guilt and shame. Your body, for one reason or another, carries more fat than you would like; but you are not the fat. You don't have to feel ashamed of yourself even though you don't like your appearance.
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