Words on Hit Lists: FAT

I have a thought on where to put “sensitivity” readers (aka “jackasses”), but folks might find my suggestion offensive. In a world where pronouns have been skewed, invented, and misused—and employees are being fired for using someone’s self-selected pronouns mistakenly—the latest word being trashed out of concerns that it will damage young readers is “fat.”

          Fat. That description is being removed from Roald Dahl’s books—you know, The Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda—and the word “enormous” has become the less objectional word, in the eyes of those all-knowing, intent-divining “sensitivity” readers.

          Growing up, school kids were taught to distinguish between detonation and connotation. Denotation is the actual meaning of the word, and connotation is how we as individuals and readers react to the word.

          I could read as far back as I can remember and am passionate about the connotations of words and the feelings they invoke—and the word ‘fat’ is descriptive of someone or something thick, overweight, or large in mass. ‘Enormous’ is ‘fat’ on a whole different scale. Being called enormous is infinitely more insulting than being called ‘fat.’ Hippos and elephants are ‘enormous’; the family’s beloved elderly, obese dog is “fat.”

In Spanish, “Gordo,” “Gordito,” “Gorda” and “Gordita” are Spanish endearments for loved ones who are “fat,” and those words pepper conversations without offending anyone.

          Even if a reader’s connotation is different than mine, or yours, or the author’s—hands off. Kids out there are in a viral world of the most shocking, provocative, often frightening events, conversations, and human interactions imaginable. And we want to ban the word ‘fat’?

          Give me a freaking break. Because when you have a vocabulary drawn from your own experiences, not forced on you by “sensitive” readers, you get really good at word choice and self-censorship that works for who you are, not for an army of nameless, faceless strangers dictating who and what you should be.

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