Is “Skinny Fat” A Legitimate Fitness Term?


I have been thinking about the phrase “skinny fat” for a while now after reading a post from Charlotte over at The Great Fitness Experiment when she asked, “should we ban the phrase ‘skinny fat’?” but it wasn’t until yesterday, when on a fitness-related Facebook page defending skinny fat” as a “common and legitimate fitness term” to describe a body type  that I felt compelled to write something addressing the topic.

While the term “skinny fat” may have become a common way some people use to describe other people who are skinny, but who don’t appear to be toned and their actual body fat percentage doesn’t paint the picture of what we assume to be a skinny person, it is by no means a “legitimate” fitness term to discuss a person’s body type.

“Skinny fat” is a term that holds a place in the Urban Dictionary, but not in any fitness professional certification or something that your doctor may use to classify your body type (or your body) to give you an accurate measurement of your health. Beth Shepard explains “skinny fat” best when she calls it a “buzzword” and then delves deeper into what you can do to be your healthiest.

And while this label has definitely done its job and created a lot of buzz, if we’re being honest, as Charlotte points out “regardless of how [the term skinny fat] started out, it is now a pejorative.”

Sure, people may use it to describe themselves and others in an offhand fashion, but what real value does the term “skinny fat” ultimately bring to any conversation?


If you have to discuss someone’s else body and feel they appear to be skinny but not healthy, why not just say that instead?




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