If there is any word more easily tossed at woman on the internet, I don’t know it. But why is fat the go-to insult for those looking to score an easy wound? Because it works.

At some point, being seen as overweight became a huge stigma, and that stigma lead to insecurity in women. That insecurity insantly gave everyone in the world a handy word with which to break a woman’s ego. Even if you are a normal weight, being called fat can give some women pause. “Maybe I LOOK fat in my profile picture? IS size [insert your size here] fat?” There’s no reason for this ladies. And let me tell you why.

I’ve been on both sides. First, I am not this nicest person on the internet. I can find a hundred bad things to say about pretty much anyone. 99.9999 times out of 100 those comments have nothing to do with dress size. Why? Because it’s too easy. And that is why people on the internet will call you fat, whether you are or not. It’s easy. It’s the one crack that is guaranteed to get a rise out of women.

Second, I’m a woman and I’m on the internet. Add to that the fact that I’m a fairly unpleasant woman on the internet, and I’ll give you a few hours to count all the times I’ve been called ‘fat’, ‘obese’, ‘fleshblob’ or ‘twinkie smuggler’. (Yes. Really.) So I know how it feels to receive it, and I understand why people say it.

Now, honestly, I have trouble understanding why a three letter word carries such a huge whallop for us women. Maybe that’s because years of teaching myself to just ignore the word “fat” when its lobbed in my direction have given me the hide of a saddlebag. Maybe because I know (from experience on the not-nice-person side) that by the time people are commenting on your weight they’ve run out of valid critiques. If anything it should make you feel better – if that’s the worst they can say about you, if that’s the best they can do, you’re doing pretty darn great in life.

I know, I know, “sure, that’s easy to say, Alice.” It’s easy to say, “don’t let it bother you!” But the way I see it, it’s pretty simple: if you wouldn’t care about someone’s opinion regarding anything else in the world, their opinion of you and your looks/weight/body should matter even less. The insult should roll off your back like so much water off the proverbial duck.

Looking at it this way actually does work. Now, I’m not saying I’m made of stone, here, folks. Those “shut up, fatty” comments used to bother me back in the early innocent days of internet trolls. But once I started using that barometer of whether or not to care whether someone on the internet though I was “fat” I started to realize it doesn’t matter. By letting what a bunch of people who had never seen me naked get me all worked up with their comments about my body, I gave them power over how I felt about myself. And since you can’t control dickheads on the internet, you have to adjust how you react.

Again, you just have to remember the person flinging this word at you is going with a quick and dirty low blow because they have nothing else about you to find fault with. You may or may not be overweight. It doesn’t matter, because calling someone fact is about hurting someone’s self esteem, not about stating empirical truths. I don’t have the answers for how to deal with name calling. It’s going to hurt you unless you learn to disregard it. I assure you, you will not turn into an animatronic robot with no emotions if you teach yourself not to get bothered by attacks on your body. What you will learn is that the only opinion of your body that matters is yours, and that of the people you love – even if the haters gonna hate.