Why FAT is Not a Feeling

Fat is not a feeling

How many time’s have you looked at yourself in the mirror, or prodded yourself, or finished a meal and thought God, I feel FAT‘? Too many! BUT in anorexia recovery I’ve learned a key component to reversing how I feel and what I say to myself; FAT is NOT a feeling!

Fat Definition

I’m sorry to be using the age-old ‘Collins dictionary describes so-and-so as…’ trick but it was bound to happen eventually. That and I think it’s quite helpful in this instance to learn what exactly fat is because nowhere in the above definition do I see the words ‘Fat is a feeling/emotion‘.


Why FAT is not a feeling;

This idea of fat being a feeling has developed as a part of our modern culture. We, somehow, have gotten our wires crossed and labeled our misunderstood emotions as us feeling fat.

For most people, it’s a case of associatingfeeling fat’ as being negative. When someone says ‘I feel fat’ what they really mean to say is ‘I feel unworthy/ I feel unloved/ I feel frustrated‘. Not only is fat not described as an emotion in the dictionary, but none of the above are synonymous with it. Not even the word ‘negative‘ is anyway related to fat.

All these associations have been made starting with our current society, where fatphobia and body shaming is still at large despite all the advocacy behind them.

We are being taught that fat = unhealthy, lazy, ugly, etc.’ Feeling thin‘, however,  is being used when we are feeling happy, loved, successful, worthy, pretty, handsome, etc. We’re associating all these positive emotions with a word that means ‘having little, or too little, flesh or fat on the body‘.

Can you see where I am going with this?

When people say I feel fat they rarely take time to think What am I actually feeling‘? Me included. Yes, even in recovery  I frequently use this phrase and rarely stop to think about what is going on in my head or my heart. It’s a result of years of misunderstanding my negative feelings and mislabeling myself as feeling fat because of them. But the good thing is that years of poor communication between myself and my emotions can be fixed with much determination, will power and openness to change. 

That’s right; It can be fixed!

When I say ‘I feel fat’ I am placing an emphasis on the fact that my weight and appearance dictate how I’m allowed to feel. If I feel like this then I just feel terrible for the rest of the day. End of. No take backs.

For many with disordered eating habits and poor body image, there is a lot of guilt and shame being stowed away. We’re ashamed for many reasons; for overeating, for under eating, for gaining weight, for being off work due to illness, for crying, for not crying, etc. I could write a whole novel about the reasons why I am ashamed or guilty, and some would contradict each other. That’s just how eating disorders are. They don’t make any sense.

If I gain weight I feel an intense amount of shame.

I feel unlovable and unworthy and like a fraud. Like I was never sick in the first place. But I wouldn’t say any of that, I would say ‘I feel fat‘ because it’s easier than diving into what I actually feel. I prefer to blame my body and weight instead of dragging up all the negative emotions bubbling below.

There are so many emotions for us to choose from (both positive and negative) so to use Fat’ & thin as a substitute for actually tapping into what we feel, is just lazy. Instead of taking the time to think about what it is we are actually experiencing and working through it, we throw those feelings into two boxes, close the lids and slap a label on them. If we actually sat down with ourselves and had a conversation we might come to some realizations and make some changes to better help us through the day.

Image result for emotion wheel

The emotion wheel is the be all and end all of emotional understanding. From day one in therapy, I was told to take a photo of this wheel and look at it whenever I don’t know what the hell I am feeling.

I’ve had it on my phone ever since. It’s hard to determine what it is that you’re feeling, especially if you’ve never taken the time to do it before. But it’s an essential part of learning to be emotionally intelligent.


Fat is a noun, adjective or verb to describe mass or a group on the food pyramid which, although small, we need in order to survive. Above all else;

FAT IS NOT a FEELING!

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Fat is not a feeling.

57 thoughts on “Why FAT is Not a Feeling

  1. Love the emotional and feeling wheel. I’ve never seen anything like that before and it really makes me take another look at my emotions.

    1. Thank you for reading. The emotions wheel can be so hard to understand and get your head around, but I really recommend that you keep it on your phone to use when you don’t know what you are feeling ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Very good post. I say this many days: “I feel fat” and it is true, what you have pointed out. I have screenshot the wheel. Thank you…

  2. I love this point, especially with appearance; really what we’re doing is hiding an underlying need, cause, or emotion. Addressing the physical rather than emotional is easier to deal with and easier to push off as “superficial” if the response you receive is negative. At the same time, it both creates a barrier between you and others AND makes others more comfortable when addressing issues. It’s easier for you (and them) to address “feeling fat” rather than anything involving sadness, anger, or fear. Well written and insightful, girl, thanks for sharing!

  3. Amazing post. Something I’ve never considered before. I’ve definitely said “I feel fat” before, I won’t lie. But I’ve never really thought about how I feel or what I’m saying. I love that emotions wheel too – I might save that to refer back to! Very insightful post, thank you for sharing and giving me something to think about and ensure I don’t do again!

    Jenny in Neverland

  4. Love this. Love the emotional wheel– and really that is so useful for all moments when we want to perform self-sabotage instead of looking at what we’re really feeling and allowing ourselves to feel it. Fat is not a feeling. I love the saying– Fat is something you have. Not who you are. You have fingernails but you are not fingernails. Great post.

  5. This is a great post, I hadn’t even thought about this before. I’ve definitely said many times before that I feel fat, but it didn’t really hit me that it isn’t actually an emotion. Like you have said, it’s been made into such a negative word in this day and age, I’m not even sure it’s possible to change that now either!

    Chloe xx
    http://www.chloechats,com

  6. If I had a ยฃ for everytime I’ve said ‘I feel fat’ over the last 35+ years, I would be rich! That wheel is fab and you don’t realise how many different emotions there are that we can be feeling. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sarah ๐ŸŒบ || Boxnip

    1. Thank you for reading and leaving me a comment. I still say ‘I feel Fat’ even though I know with good faith that it has nothing to do with me feeling fat at all, and all to do with me feeling sad / angry etc.

      – Nyxie

  7. This is an amazing & thought provoking post! I love the emotion wheel. I have always said I feel fat. Even in the midst of my eating disorder and I had to buy clothes in the children’s department I would still say that. I never stopped to think about what’s going on inside of my mind. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much for reading. I still catch myself saying ‘I feel fat’ but I have to remind myself of this post, and how I can’t be a hypocrite to it. I think we have just been trained all our lives that fat is a feeling and we should use it to describe ourselves, but what we are only now starting to realise is that fat is nothing more than cells and words on a page. It does not define us as people and it certainly isn’t even on the same spectrum as emotions.

  8. I love this post! I’m guilty of saying that I feel fat when what I mean is that I don’t feel confident in my body. I’m trying very very hard to stop using it as an emotion word but I am in the habit of it still because I know that what I see in the mirror doesn’t always reflect reality so rather than outright say that I think my reflection is fat I say “I feel” so that people can’t argue with me so much.

  9. I donโ€™t vocally say โ€œI feel fatโ€ but I think it a lot of times. This is a great reflection and perspective. Youโ€™re very right about it.

  10. Such a powerful post and the way youโ€™ve broken it down has made me see this from a new perspective โค๏ธ Thank you for that!

  11. Wow I love this! Iโ€™m definitely guilty of this! I suffered with bulimia in my teens & to me whenever I see myself โ€œfatโ€ itโ€™s the worst feeling ever but when I see myself โ€œthinโ€ I love it, therefore I can totally understand the importance of this article! Thank you!!

  12. Definitely, our socosoc has created a stigma around the word fat. People compliment you when you loose weight . even it may be the result of your starving yourself and would put you down even you are in recovery from weight loss .

  13. Great Post ! I totally agree with you. Fat or thin is not a feeling. I am always slim & I accept this that I used to feel little bit less confident about it sometimes thinking I need to put on some weight but I always support that fat or thin is not a thing to be ashamed of & they can’t be associated with emotions logically. Whether you are fat or thin, the thing that matters are who you’re as a person and how you feel. I have chosen Name Simply Beautiful รŸ in blogging because of this reason. I always say be yourself be simply beautiful..love yourself who you’re & appreciate it. Also, it is not bad to express how you feel, only we need to break this taboo about physical appearances that if you’re fat or thin, it means negative emotions. This post was brilliant & thought provoking. It made me express here. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. That emotion & feeling wheel is awesome too. Never seen such thing before! Much love ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’–

  14. I needed this. I am guilty of saying “I feel fat” to describe the negativity I’m experiencing. I agree that it is a lazy way of describing my feelings. Thanks for writing this.

  15. I love that emotion/feeling wheel. It is always a surprise to me when I can’t identify my feelings. I have a list of feelings, but this wheel is much prettier! I will be saving it on my phone so it’s handy when I need it. Thank you!

  16. This is a really good post. I think you did a great job explaining how fat is not a feeling. Honestly, I never really thought of it this way, but I think you are absolutely right in how you describe it! Thank you for sharing!

    1. I was never hear about that emotion and feeling wheel, Well explained. Glad to see this post. Saved for later reading.

  17. Very well explained about fat and the feeling about this. Many people move towards the negativity by thinking over this FEELING FAT. You described well. Thank you for this post!

  18. I think we’re probably all guilty of this one, something that comes to mind right away is when you’ve eaten a huge meal and are feeling bloated, I’m definitely guilty of saying I feel fat rather than I feel bloated, though I don’t see bloated on the feeling wheel either… So maybe bloated wouldn’t be a correct way to verbalize my feelings ha ha.. My stomach feels ready to burst…. It feels, irritated? I don’t know ha ha… I LOVE that wheel though, I may have to steal that one!

    Davis | http://www.everythingstartswithtea.co.uk

  19. As of late I’ve been really struggling with my weight and appearance so needed to read this today! It really has brought me some clarity.

    Lola Mia x

    1. I’m so glad this was able to help. Our weight is something that, for some reason, is so valued within society, and yet I can’t understand why. Our weight and size hold nothing against who we are as people or how we put ourselves out into the world.

      Sending you lots of love. Remember; The number on the scales or the label on your trousers don’t mean a darn thing!

  20. Once again your post tells it like it is. For the first time I’m struggling with being slightly over weight. It’s something I’m not too happy with.

    1. It’s hard when our body goes through changes that we aren’t necessarily happy with. I’ve struggled with being both overweight and, currently, underweight. Neither is a nice place to be. But I find the unhappiness I feel towards my body is not on me, it’s on how I was brought up, on how society or other people see me. I know plenty of overweight people who are not only healthy but also happy. Some people are naturally a little overweight, the BMI scale sadly is flawed and doesn’t account for many factors involving bone mass, the mass of organs, etc, and sometimes we naturally hover on the ‘overweight’ side of things.

      Don’t be discouraged though. If weight loss is something you can do and are not limited in, then, by all means, work towards that in a healthy way. If it’s not for whatever reason, just do the best you can do to be healthy in your lifestyle but don’t get hung up on the weight on the scales or the size of your jeans.

      x

  21. An excellent post, even for those of us who don’t suffer from body image issues. We need to learn how to be open about our true feelings and not masking them under a different term or title.

  22. This is a very powerful post! Thank you for sharing! Iโ€™ve been overweight my whole life and struggled with binge eating for years. Iโ€™m now in recovery going on year 2 and fighting the associated โ€œI feel fatโ€ mentality can still be a struggle. Thank you!

  23. Wonderful post. I like that the diagram can give us a concrete way to improve our emotional intelligence. My friends and I use to always say, โ€œI feel fat.โ€ We did that as teens. I donโ€™t say that out loud anymore but I often still think it. Probably do still associate it with a feeling. So Iโ€™m going to use that diagram! Thank you!

  24. An excellent post In highlighting body image, I just love how you write it as the truth. I have always struggled with this, so by reading it makes me feel less alone. Excellent post keep it up lovely x

  25. I caught myself even saying it today! After a family meal where the portions were dauntingly massive and I struggled through the whole thing. This is a very good reminder and a wonderful post, as always <3

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