Why Plus Size Model Dounia Tazi Calls Herself Fat
All month long, Galore is exploring what it truly means to be #blessed, mind, body, and soul. Today, we’re talking to plus-size model, activist, and musician Dounia Tazi about her journey of overcoming an eating disorder and accepting the word “fat.”
Click here for more health and wellness content. Here’s Dounia’s story:
In all my interviews, they always ask why I call myself fat.
I remember the exact moment that I realized I was considered fat. I was on line for lunch in elementary school — elementary school is when I started getting fat. I was super tiny until then, and that’s when my hormones kicked in.
So on line for lunch I asked my friend, “Do you think I’m fat?” And my friend was like, “Yeah, a little.” Cuz we were kids!
I didn’t get off the line for lunch. We had beef patties! But that’s what started it. I don’t remember being sad about it. In fifth grade I was still popular and poppin’ — people don’t care about bodies as much. But middle school is when it got worse. Middle school people were so harmful.
Fat was the worst thing you could be. They used the word fat as a weapon. I was a published poet in sixth grade. Nobody gave a fuck about that. They were just like, oh, you’re fat. It took up all this space of how I viewed myself. When people are constantly throwing this word at you, that’s what you think about. Everyone wants to better themselves and to me, bettering myself meant losing weight. I didn’t wanna hear this word anymore.
It became my life’s mission to stop being fat. Eighth grade is when it started. Eighth grade, freshman year, sophomore year — I would not eat. I’d go on all these diets thinking they had all this longevity, which they don’t. Diets are temporary and trash. Skinny teas, thinspo Tumblrs, I only followed skinny girls on Tumblr.
In my head I remember walking around school and having a mental calculator adding up all the calories I ate. For breakfast I had 100 calories. That’s how little I ate. For lunch I’m only gonna have 150. I’m gonna eat three carrots and some almonds.
It was so terrible. I didn’t even allow myself to fully be within my own thoughts. Now, I’m so in tune with myself and honestly, I think that’s the most important thing for a human, to just really be within your own mind. I don’t really listen to music that much when I’m out because I very much like hearing my own thoughts, having mini-epiphanies, just really getting to know myself every day. And when I was in that phase of being attacked by the word fat, that’s all I thought about. It really diluted my personality.
Like I said, in sixth grade I was a poet, I read all the time. I’ve always been a writer. I love to write. But at that time since I was so preoccupied with beauty ideals and all this shit that doesn’t matter, I stopped all of that. I went from being an AP student to being careless. My grades plummeted. I was the worst student. And honestly, I continued being the worst student up until now. I’m still a terrible student. My mentality shifted from things that mattered — being a good person, morals, my family — to, okay, I only have 300 more calories left today. It was just so weird.
It just took so much to really stop seeing the word fat as a weapon. Since it was used against me for so long, it took me epiphany after epiphany — it took me so much self growth. My first mentality was: am I fat? It was a question. When I was going through recovery and eating normally again, it became moreso — I am fat. It wasn’t a question anymore. It was a statement. I am fat.
And then it went from a statement to being a part of my identity and a part of my brand and a part of me. This is a part of me — this makes me so much more interesting. It allowed me to go ahead and focus on the things I once cared about. I started to care more about music. I would buy clothes. I used to hate buying good clothes because I was like, I wanna lose weight. I didn’t even dress how I wanted to dress because I was like, why would I spend money on these amazing jeans when I wanna lose 30 pounds? I’m not gonna fit in these next year. Little did I know I’d be even bigger the next year!
But it took such a burden off to stop seeing fat as something used against me. I started seeing it as just me.I am fat. I am also many other things. I’m also stylish and I’m also funny and I’m also a kind person. Why am I investing so much energy into trying to change this one thing that’s making me miserable in the process? I hated dieting. Who enjoys stressing about their body? No one enjoys that.
In its place, I became more charismatic, more creative, more willing to do things, more confident because I wasn’t worried about my body. When I was super skinny — a size 6, flat stomach, but with hips and a butt — I can’t imagine hating that body now. But at the time, I was like, yeah, boys don’t like me. Now, I’m just like, I would never suck in for a boy anymore. I’m with boys and I’m just like, this is just me. If you want me to send you some belly pics I’m down.
Once the one thing you hated isn’t a part of the conversation you’re having with yourself anymore, you realize how much more you have to offer. I realized yeah, I’m fat. But I’m also, like, amazing. So if you don’t wanna date me, I don’t care. I’ll find somebody who does.
Taking that word that was such a burden on me for my entire life and now just having that ingrained as a part of me allowed me to joke about it. It allowed me to use it casually. Because once you roast yourself and make fun of yourself for things, it has no power. You suck out all the power from it. Absolutely no one could sit here and be like, you’re so fat. I’d never be offended by that. I get Instagram comments all the time like, you’re so fat, you’re promoting obesity. I’m like, I know I’m not obese. But even if I was, I’m perfectly healthy.
Stop pretending you care about our health because our bodies make you uncomfortable. You just don’t wanna see us. This isn’t your version of beauty, so you don’t wanna see my rolls modeling your clothes. But don’t try to pass it off as you caring about me. I know damn well that you don’t care about my health. My health discussions are left to my doctor. I’m not gonna go on my Instagram for someone to be like, why don’t you eat a salad? Actually I’m into my vegetables. It’s just so hilarious how people justify their hate and ingrained negative ideals.
People are still stuck on this idea that fat equates to something negative. Little do they know there are so many plus models who are healthier than them. My friend is a vegan, eats a power shot every day, she’s super healthy. We’re New Yorkers, so we walk, we jog. It’s hilarious how people think that because you’re fat, you sit at home and scarf down some McDonald’s and binge watch Netflix and don’t move. It’s an outdated mentality . That’s why a lot of people demonize “fat” and think it’s a bad word, but in reality, it’s another body type. It’s just thick. It’s just plus size. It’s just curvy. Whatever sugar-coating you wanna do to make you comfortable, I don’t care.
Actually, sugar coat it please, because I don’t think skinny people are in a position to use it yet. I’m just like, stop. Because whether people wanna admit it, deep down, every single person’s fat-phobic. Even myself. There’s still un-learning to do. With anything, any form of prejudice. Our entire lives we’ve been told certain things are bad. You can’t expect that to be changed in a few years. But the first step is just normalizing it. Just joking about it. Being like, yeah, I’m fat, I feel fine. If you think I’m unhealthy, then put down the alcohol and Xanax and cigarettes and all the other shit you’re doing to yourself. There’s a bunch of skinny ppl who are unhealthier than I am! My friends know me as the one who doesn’t drink. I don’t smoke cigarettes. But people will label me as unhealthy even though that’s definitely not the case.
I really enjoy poking fun at the word fat. My friend [model Barbie Ferreira] and I, when we went to LA we were like, LOL, the fats take over LA. Our group chat name is the Fat Agenda. It went from Thick Bitch Squad because we realized how corny that was, and then the Fats. I just love using the word fat.