trust my gut advice by brittney pugh

Trust My Gut Volume 2

Dear Brittney,
The word “fat” makes me feel bad. I know I’m supposed to take its power back but I can’t seem to do it.

Dear Powerless,

You’re not alone. It took years of work for me to not cringe when I heard the word fat. I use it easily now, knowing that it’s an accurate description of my body, but WOW did it take a lot of unlearning my internalized fat phobia before my voice didn’t shake when I said it. Here is a great article by Your Fat Friend about being called fat that I have read several times and really appreciate.

It makes sense that it would make you feel badly when it has generally only been used to wound you, as a negative description of the way you look. As an insult, I think it is wildly pedestrian. Someone choosing the MOST OBVIOUS thing about me to attempt to tear me down? I’m also a terribly bad sport when I lose at games and I have an astigmatism, which one could weaponize if they were a little more creative. Does it cut sometimes to hear a stranger scream “FAT BITCH” in anger? Yeah. Does that pass? Yeah. Do I still think it’s the most accurate way for me to talk about myself? Yeah.

I think the more you use it, it will change for you. Instead of a knifepoint on your flesh, you will feel acceptance and then maybe, like me, comfort. I would start out slowly, say it to yourself first. Add it into your vocabulary with close friends and family. You might get pushback from people who say ridiculous things like “NO, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” like the two are mutually exclusive, but after replying just that a couple of times, it will be a breeze! The final puzzle piece for me was surrounding myself with people who also used it as a descriptor of their own bodies. Add people your size on social media. Follow fat content creators and fat lib accounts. It normalized seeing the word and hearing the word coming from people who look like you and feel like you, who aren’t trying to hurt you.

Above anything else, I guess I just refuse to call myself stuff like “fluffy” for I am a grown woman, not a marshmallow cream.

Dear Brittney,
I am worried about navigating the holidays this year. I’ve established boundaries around my body and food talk but everyone is so stuck in diet culture that it’s tiring to constantly remind them of my needs. Any tips on how to handle comments from friends and family about weight this holiday season?

Dear Worried,

I would start by listening to this episode of The Fat Lip Podcast which goes over holiday table advocacy in a thoughtful and constructive way. Ash even offers specific verbiage to use in certain situations, I found it most helpful.

My family have been spoken to within an inch of their lives about diet talk and body talk and the like yet still sometimes slip into old habits, so I understand the frustration. I don’t have any shame in calling ahead or sending a group text to remind people that I won’t be participating in this behavior but if you are not as interested in confrontation as I am, I would set up some escapism options. You could have a designated text friend who you can privately rage to. Set this up in advance and be cognizant of one another’s meal times and time zones. You can play a drinking game and take a shot every time someone says something about food having moral value. If anyone says anything directly to you about the amount of food on your plate/what you’re eating/how your body has changed since they last saw you, you can pick up items that are meant for silverware and begin to eat them with your bare hands in front of the offending party. (That last one only works if you make direct eye contact the entire time and the item should most definitely be eaten with a utensil)

The holidays can be hard for myriad reasons and a lot of people can face setbacks on their personal journeys when reconnecting with their family and old friends. You’ve done what you need to do by establishing your personal boundaries and if other people can’t meet you where you are, that is on them. You don’t have power to change anyone, but you do have the power to walk away from the convo if you don’t feel comfortable changing it. Walk away from the table if everyone is stuck on a discussion that doesn’t feel good to you. Hang out with the kids who most definitely will not be talking about how “bad” pie is. Go look in your Grandma’s pantry and see how many expired items you can find. Go hide in the car with your SO and pull up the calendar, breathing a sigh of relief that the next holiday season is an entire year away. Or! What better way to show your disrespect for the entire affair than with your adult cousins, getting secretly drunk off airplane bottle shots as everyone else attempts to white-knuckle the day, coasting on the fumes of their Puritan resolve?

Dear Brittney,
How do I make friends as an adult? (I just moved into a new apartment)

Dear New Kid on the Block,

I have read that it’s hard to make friends as a grown up, but I am not familiar with this phenomenon. Is it because the majority of my friends are from my youth? Maybe. Is it because after I moved back home, I infiltrated my best friend’s friend circle and made those people my friends by default too? Possibly. Okay, you’re right-how does one make new friends as an adult?

If you are in a new neighborhood and cannot steal your friend’s friend group, could you think of some things that you love to do and go do them? If you like bird watching, you can find a group of local birders to link up with. Like sewing? Go to your local craft store and ask about in house classes you can take to link up with other people who share your hobby. If you prefer the stay home club, you can find communities online that you connect with. For instance, when I moved out of state and was alone, I linked up with the online fat community and started making friends. Eventually that moved to IRL friendships with amazing people, meetups and vacations together and now they are some of the richest relationships I have. They all started online!

I follow people on social media that do the things I want to do and interact with them. In fact, I met the proprietor of this fine establishment because I followed her online and reached out to ask a question about her outfit. Being proactive is the ticket to your new friend circle, for sure.

If you don’t wanna do any of that stuff, you can just follow me on TikTok and I’ll send you upwards of 20 videos per day; a mixture of celebrity gossip, animals dressed as humans and sassy toddlers. Say yes!

Thank you to everyone who reached out for advice! To see your question possibly answered in our next issue, please write to:

Brittney Pugh hasn’t been published since 2009, but her Mom framed all her old articles and she is pretty confident that she hasn’t lost her mojo. If she isn’t writing poetry in her Notes App or practicing self care (read: avoiding house work), she is probably hanging out with her family. How else would you expect her to have the inspiration to generate content? She legitimately googled “hire a bot to write a bio”, found nothing, so this will very likely remain-as she ever is-a work in progress.