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Why Is FAT Still the Biggest Insult?

14/03/2014 17:28 GMT | Updated 14/05/2014 10:59 BST

I can't pretend that I'm 'down with the kids' enough to actually watch TOWIE, however I do regularly surf the 'side bar of shame' on the Mail online and I couldn't help but notice the latest fisticuffs in the show centred around Gemma Collins, the bubbly blonde, famed for her curvaceous figure and outspoken nature and often at the hub of the scripted reality show action.

After a barney with one of the other characters and (naturally) a full on Essex showdown, the Daily Mail reported that Danielle Armstrong (another TOWIE resident - although one I have never heard of before) referred to Gemma in the argument as a "fat bitch" (it has since been said that this phrasing was repeatedly used - although edited down for the show) - something I doubt had anything to do with the argument, whether she is or isn't a bitch is something I cant comment on, but, why did the word fat have to come into play?

It's rare that anyone would scream at someone "You skinny bitch" in an aggressive style for fear of giving a back handed compliment - "yes I might be a bitch but at least I'm skinny".

Which has lead me to wonder - Why is fat still the biggest insult? It's still the golden rule - when all else fails throw the F-word in there and that's your successful put down, done and dusted.

Through recent studies we know the children now register the idea of 'fat' and 'thin', as well as negative body image from as young as three. The first time children are evidently aware of the unpopular nature of fat. Scientific studies have shown that children don't want to play with dolls they believe to be too big as well as suggesting that the bigger dolls will have no friends. When an ideology of anti-fat is implanted into our brains before we've even fully mastered the 'Wheels on the Bus' without a parental prompt, it's little wonder we're all obsessed with body image.

The connotations of fat are clear and calling someone so in an argument is really just making a sweeping generalisation and assertion about their character.

As a society we believe that being fat equates to laziness, being unhealthy, unattractive, thick, unsuccessful and unpopular - it's little wonder that these three little letters are the go-to insult, after all you can belittle someone swiftly, efficiently and across their whole life in one fail swoop - the word FAT is like a deadly ninja. And however untrue these generalisations maybe, it doesn't stop the blanket assumption and box ticking society we live in.

I have always maintained that insulting and abusing someone for their weight is the last remaining accepted prejudice. And while we quite rightly support gay marriage and race and gender equality, poking fun at the fat is still seen as jolly fair game.

While there has been debate about banning the F-word altogether to try and stop the use of it as an offensive term, there is also a movement of plus size bloggers and commentators that are keen to reclaim the word FAT to use as they please and in a more positive light.

While I believe reclaiming is a nice idea, the seeds of negativity are now sewn pretty deep into mainstream society. Creating and harvesting a real change across a large enough number of people to impact sufficiently is an unlikely dream.

Equally banning its use altogether, when it can simply be a descriptive word seems a little extreme and playground.

What we need is to create an environment with better body image and body positivity. Where using such terminology negatively is never ok. This is done through school education and the media but perhaps most importantly through parents who need to realise that they pass their own body hang ups onto children in a blink of an eye.

And if you're one of those people, consumed with negativity about others bodies, just remember, if you run around shouting at people, calling them fat for no reason, you're on a slippery slope to morphing into Katie Hopkins and quite frankly, you don't want that, do you?