My Bag


My name is Jameela Jamil. Welcome To I Weigh Community.

Two years ago we started an Instagram account to try to create a safe and radically inclusive space on social media. A lot of us want to help others and change the world for the better, but don’t know where to start.

Activism can seem daunting. Sometimes it’s just hard and lonely. At I Weigh Community, we don’t believe it has to be that way. We believe in brick-by-brick activism, and making a difference in large numbers. We’re going to have to come together and do this as one to really shift the narrative of our society.

I Weigh Community will introduce you to new voices, artists, activists and movements. These are the people we believe we need to listen to. We are still learning, and we’re inviting you to come and learn alongside us so we can all grow together. It’s never too late to want to help and understand each other better.

This movement is so important to me, and I look forward to getting to know you all.

Jam x

Fat is not a feeling
Fat is not a feeling

Seven Things You Might Be Feeling When You “Feel Fat”

“I feel fat.”

It’s become a reliable refrain in my friendships with people who are smaller than I am.  And as a US size 26, many people are smaller than me.  

But when friends who don’t wear plus sizes tell me they “feel fat,” I find myself deeply exhausted. I know that I am expected to reassure them that they have escaped the terrible fate of having a body like mine. After all, I don’t feel fat, I am fat.

In those moments, I’m concerned about my friends. “I feel fat” is a shorthand, and it never means anything good. Friends say they “feel fat” when their relationships are on the rocks or their mental health is struggling. They say it when they’ve been rejected, judged or hurt.  And they “feel fat” when they are most in touch with their deep fear of looking like me.

The say, ‘I feel fat’ when they worry that they are unlovable, undesirable, lazy, broken.

Thinner friends don’t mean to hurt me when they tell me they “feel fat” but they do.  My body becomes a prop for their low self esteem, and I am tasked with bearing the weight of their shame.

They say “I feel fat” when they worry that they are unlovable, undesirable, lazy, broken.

These moments are exhausting not only because of what they reveal about friends’ self esteem, but also because of what they reveal about what they believe is necessarily attached to bodies like mine. They say “I feel fat” when they worry that they are unlovable, undesirable, lazy, broken. The insult they hurl at themselves is that they might just look like I do.  It’s hard not to be hurt by that.

But “fat” isn’t an emotion. It’s a body type. And it’s my body type. It’s painful to watch my friends in pain, and hearing my body insulted in the process hurts all the more.

When I speak with other fat people about this phenomenon, I find even deeper exhaustion, exasperation and erasure than my own. Many share stories of the slow drift away from thin friends who stubbornly refuse to stop using our bodies as metaphors, and we’re not the only ones. Clinical research has shown that negative body talk is contagious and can hurt friends’ body image and reinforce disordered eating. All that hurt, just from one small phrase.

No, fat is not a feeling. But reaching for words that more precisely describe our actual emotions can help all of us get the emotional support we need and can spare our fat friends both insult and injury in the process.  If you think you’re “feeling fat,” here are some things you might be feeling instead:

I feel bloated.

Sometimes, “feeling fat” is a physical sensation. We notice that our clothing doesn’t fit comfortably or we focus on parts of our bodies we don’t like. We may feel physically uncomfortable in our own skin. We may just be wearing clothes that don’t fit comfortably. Those with eating disorders may experience discomfort with how their bodies change in recovery.

I feel sluggish.

Sometimes, we say we “feel fat” when what we’re really feeling is sluggish, lazy or lethargic. But instead of reaching for those more precise and descriptive terms, we conflate fatness with laziness.

I’m having a bad body image day.

All of us have days when we’re dissatisfied with our own reflections. We’re followed by a creeping certainty that we’re ugly, unattractive, undesirable or unlovable. But when we say we’re “feeling fat,” the implication is clear: fat people are necessarily impossible to love or want.

I’m feeling insecure.

Sometimes “feeling fat” is a catch-all for despondency. What we’re really worried about is that we are undeserving, unworthy, somehow both too much and not enough. We feel self conscious or we are reminded of our inadequacy in comparison to a ruthless beauty or health standard we don’t think we can meet. We’re not feeling fat, we’re feeling unconfident.

I feel judged.

“Feeling fat” can arise in response to social situations too. We may come to realize that we’re eating more than those around us and feel the impulse to explain away our food. We might feel as if we’re being judged, rejected or perceived as taking up too much space. Sometimes, the judgment we perceive is our own. We’ve all felt afraid that others might not love, want, value or respect us, but that’s not the same as living in a fat body.

I feel guilty for eating.

After a big meal, some of us can be suddenly overridden with guilt and shame for eating more than usual or for eating rich, high-calorie foods. Folks in eating disorder recovery may even feel worried about a relapse of their eating disorder or worsening body dysmorphia. While those are valid concerns, describing them as “feeling fat” implies that fat people are gluttonous and unable or unwilling to control our appetites. It paints fat people as pathological, our bodies a manifestation of some underlying dysfunction. And it reinforces that people of all sizes should feel guilty for eating, which can underpin the very disordered eating so many of us are trying to escape.

I need some validation.

All of us have days when we need reinforcement. Some days, we might not need positive attention, we just want it. Other days, we feel invisible or erased the way fat people so readily are. Instead of announcing that you “feel fat,” try talking to someone you love and trust about how you’re feeling and ask them for the validation you need.

Old habits die hard. It can be difficult to break out of the scripts we’ve known and relied upon for years. But getting more honest, vulnerable and precise about what we’re feeling is a much more surefire way to get the support we need. In a world where so many of us need to talk through our own body trauma, it’ll help us avoid spreading that hurt in the process. Say what you need and what you’re really feeling. It can help your mental health and spare your
fat friend’s.


  • Your Fat Friend (YrFatFriend) writes anonymously about the social realities of life as a very fat person. Her work has been translated into 19 languages and covered around the world. You can find her work in Health Magazine, Vox, Gay Mag and Medium, among others. She is a columnist with SELF Magazine, where she writes about health, weight stigma and fatness.

    Photo Credit: Jenn St. Onge

  • Yalla Roza

    Roza Nozari, known as YallaRoza, is an artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto. Her art is deeply rooted in the intersections and layers of who she is: a queer Muslim; an artist of colour; an auntie and much more. She uses her art to tell stories of trauma and healing, of body love and acceptance, oppression and injustice, and of both collective and individual resistance. Her art centres the stories of those often erased from our archives of “survivors,” mental health and wellness —those of queer, trans and two-spirit people; of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person(s) of Colour); of Muslims; of femmes and non-binary folks; and of many more.

    Photo Credit: Emily Power