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View Poll Results: Do you use fat/chubby etc. ever in NON-NEGATIVE context/intent to describe someone's appearance?
yes 9 39.13%
no 14 60.87%
Voters: 23. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-09-2012, 09:21 PM
Location: Toronto
3,338 posts, read 5,543,391 times
Reputation: 2358


There is a lot of discussion about body types in this and in other forums.

I remember recounting in a post (not in this forum but in the diet and weight loss forum on a thread about whether skinny was an insult or compliment), how I recall when I was a little kid, I was once scolded for describing someone as "fat" despite not meaning it maliciously or with any intent to insult (asking if for example, what does Joe, look like -- was he fat or skinny?). The teacher scolded me at that age for calling someone fat, but when I described someone as skinny (or say, tall or short etc.) it was okay. I remember that day learning the associations attached to certain words.

Some people have noted in the thread and others have expressed the idea of double standards regarding calling someone fat or skinny. Whether you agree with it or not, it's an overwhelming unspoken rule that fat is not used positively (perhaps in for example another country maybe) by connotation, but skinny can be used positively, negatively, or neutrally depending on who you ask.

The example is like my situation above -- if you want to describe someone without any intent of making good or bad judgement you can say something like "Chris is the skinny guy with the blue shirt" or "Sally's the slim girl sitting on the bench" and still have it fly with little comment but you can not say "Chris is the fat guy on the bench" or "Sally's the chubby girl in the blue shirt" etc. without having it be received as wholly negative even if you intended no judgement. You can only avoid talking about that aspect of appearance at all.

There is no word it seems that fits the meaning "opposite of skinny" as an adjective to be used in a neutral way (without ill-will) to describe one's appearance. There's no word for (healthy but fatter than normal) that fits the same non-negative (healthy but skinnier than normal by the same amount).

Now, I'm not one that cares to comment much of the time on this stuff in general, but What do you think?

Last edited by Stumbler.; 04-09-2012 at 09:30 PM..
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:20 PM
Location: Center of the universe
24,757 posts, read 32,919,302 times
Reputation: 11780
I use it in a neutral way.
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:41 PM
11,435 posts, read 19,459,889 times
Reputation: 18140
No matter how you say it, the person hearing it will be offended. That's the problem.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:02 AM
2,540 posts, read 3,305,973 times
Reputation: 5542
No, and personally i wouldn't use 'skinny' to describe a person either, especially to their face, as some would find it offensive and imo it's also got a bit of a connotation to it...using either I think somehow says you're basically evaluating the person based on their body type. Just as you wouldn't say, "she's the girl with the big nose/ thinning hair/ crooked teeth' or what have you.
If you're gonna describe someone based on body type without sounding offensive it needs to be a veiled euphemism - 'full-figured', 'curvy', 'she's a larger lady' in the worst case, or 'the tall girl, kind of on the thin side' instead of 'skinny', etc.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:04 AM
Location: Bay Area, CA
28,200 posts, read 43,490,073 times
Reputation: 18643
I think it's kind of like any ethnic slur, or speaking ill of your mother - it's okay when you use the words about yourself, but is usually quite offensive when coming from another person. Why? Just human nature, I suppose, as self-deprecation is always easier to take than outside insults.

When I speak of myself pre-weight loss, I'll often use the word fat to describe myself then... it's not necessarily a negative thing, since I wasn't really that unattractive, but it is what it is. It would sound awkward and forced to say "Back when I was full-figured" (especially since I'm still a curvy gal), so it's just easier and more accurate to say "Back when I was fat." But I have respect for other people's feelings, so if I'm ever describing somebody I'll use more considerate terms like full-figured. It's just a matter of respect, that's all.

Btw, I also don't use the word skinny towards individuals... I see that as equally negative as fat, and try to use better words like slim, slender, petite, etc. We're not all that hypocritical, ya know!
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:31 AM
Location: Florida
348 posts, read 198,323 times
Reputation: 168
I'm honest about my own body. I have to work hard to NOT be fat. I earned it, and if I was, I would say so. Fat to me is anything more than about 40 or 50 pounds over weight. If you are under that, you are plump!
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:25 AM
2,447 posts, read 2,576,233 times
Reputation: 2202
Yeah. If I'm admiring my girlfriend's butt, I tell her it's fat and juicy because I like that.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:26 AM
Location: southern california
55,237 posts, read 72,453,647 times
Reputation: 47456
yes in the biblical sense fat is associated with health.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:37 AM
Location: SoCal - Sherman Oaks & Woodland Hills
12,977 posts, read 28,825,984 times
Reputation: 10491
People who are fat know they are fat so it should never be an issue.
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:45 AM
3,161 posts, read 7,889,347 times
Reputation: 2379
I don't really see the issue here. We could all beat around the bush and describe someone as "big boned" or "plus-sized" or whatever euphemism you want to come up with, when in reality we are talking about being fat. The word "fat" is usually used in a negative way, so I would stick with the medical term "obese." Someone carrying an extra 20 pounds is overweight. Someone carrying an extra 50+ pounds is obese.
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