Lindy West is tired of all the euphemisms to describe weight, like "heavy," "curvy" or "big." 

“I dislike ‘big’ as a euphemism, maybe because it’s the one chosen most often by people who mean well, who love me and are trying to be gentle with my feelings," she writes in her new book, "Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman." "I don’t want the people who love me to avoid the reality of my body.” 

Instead, West proclaims proudly: "Hello, I Am Fat." In "Shrill," she describes the process of learning to accept and love her body — a radical act in a society that constantly tells women they must look a certain way to be considered valuable. 

West joined Boston Public Radio to discuss all of the above and more. An excerpt of the conversation is below.

MARGERY EAGAN: Lindy, I've been schooled. I'm not going to say "overweight," "heavy" or any of these things, I'm going to say "fat." You write a lot about this. What is the non-fat, or even the fat person's, view of people who are fat?

LINDY WEST: Fat people are raised to fear and disdain other fat people, the same as thin people are. That's what most of the book is about: me figuring out how to not be uncomfortable with my own body and other people's fat bodies. It's very strange to live feeling so disconnected from your body. We don't think of fat people as fat — we think of them as thin people who are failures. I spent most of my life, the scariest thing I could imagine was, "What if I'm fat forever?" I couldn't even manage the question in my mind, because it was so terrifying. The key to making my life come alive was confronting that fact, or the probability. Most fat people stay fat. 

EAGAN: Here's the thing that so resonates: the difference in perception between fat women and fat men. Talk about that a little bit.

WEST: I think fat men definitely experience discrimination and trauma, and I hear from fat men a lot who also don't feel particularly represented in the fat-positive movement. It's very woman-driven. But we have other metrics of value for men. For women, it's really pretty much just aesthetics, and body size is a huge part of that. There's just one kind of body you're allowed to have if you want to be a valuable human being, as a woman.

We don't think of fat people as fat—we think of them as thin people who are failures.

JIM BRAUDE: Can I get to the term ["fat"]? When I was a kid my mother used to take me to the 'portly' department at Jacob Reed's, a department store in Philly. I was humiliated at going to the 'portly' department, I was humiliated they called it that. But then, on the flip side, I was also humiliated when anyone called me fat. I would never have thought of referring to myself as fat. How did you get to the point where you don't want euphemisms — how did you get there?

WEST: The problem is the stigma, not the term itself. Fat can be totally neutral. It's a descriptor. It's an accurate descriptor for my body size. It's pretty common in any kind of social justice movement or in activist circles to reclaim terms that have been used to hurt you. If I call myself fat and declare, "I am fat and I'm not ashamed and there's nothing wrong with me," it takes some of the power out of other people calling me fat. That was really kind of the first step in this whole process, was becoming comfortable with the term. If other people want to use euphemisms — other people prefer "big" or "curvy" or whatever — that's fine. To me, euphemisms feel a little insulting, or not insulting, but they remind me the person I'm talking to is uncomfortable with my body.

BRAUDE: When did you first start buying into the terminology?

WEST: I was probably 26 or so, 26-27 even, pretty old in the grand scheme of starting to feel like you're in control of your own life and you believe you deserve happiness. That's a long time to wait. It was the internet. I started being exposed to really powerful, assertive, confident fat voices on the internet and especially looking at pictures of fat people on the internet. You can really rewire your brain to not feel this thrill of discomfort when you see fat bodies. You just look at fat bodies.

Click on the audio player above to hear the entire interview with Lindy West. This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.