• Ben Pechey

The Elephant in the Room


For the longest time, I worried about being perceived as fat. In a sense, I had internalised fat-phobia, which sadly isn’t a rare occurrence. It manifested itself in funny ways but mainly affecting how I dressed.


I would never show, draw attention or emphasise my waist. This meant a decade of loose-fitting tops, and high rise trousers under loose longer layers. I would never buy clothes that fitted me, insisted I chased oversized silhouettes that hid my body. Even recently it slipped through the cracks, as I decided against knee-high boots with a dress that stopped six inches above my knees, as I worried it would cut my legs off and make me look dumpy.


Now that last example is a hang-up from crap reality TV like Trinny & Susannah’s What not to wear. Never before had women realised that to flatter a larger bosom, they must first wear a round neck t-shirt under a v neck t-shirt. I spent years trying to deny the fact that I am fat. I felt like the Elephant in the room!





There is no denying it, it is plain to see, I am fat, simple as that.

Not fat as in ‘you’re not fat, you’re beautiful - just plain fat!

I’m not going to lie and say it's a picnic, because some days it can be tough to exist in a world that dislikes and vilifies your size. Yet, I am at peace with being fat, and use the word in an unironic slur-free way.


Of course fat - as a word - has context. The way some people use it is still offensive, and it is still used and seen as a slur, similar to the connotations of the word Queer. I can refer to myself as fat. Without consent, I would never refer to anyone else’s size. This could cause trauma. If Tim called me Fat on Tottenham Court Road, I would call refer to him as Tim the twat, because he would be aiming to hurt with his words.




So the context of the word fat is still important.

My own fat has context too, and that perhaps is what has shifted. It is not that I have had an epiphany and I no longer see my size. Instead, my size used to be a problem, something that I had to work against. Over the last few years, I have begun to work with my body and embrace it for what it is - the vessel that allows me to do all that I wish in this world.

I have a big stomach, capacious thighs and a bum that fills my Levis Jeans quite remarkably, but who cares? They are part of me, and I am learning to love them just as much as the rest of me.




The Elephant in the room is not my size. The Elephant is that I chose to love all of me. This includes my fatness. In a society that taught us that this is wrong, it feels bold to say this!


I never needed to change after all. Instead, we need to change society…


Shot by Ruth Pechey