“I’m so fat!”
“My ass is huge!”
“You look great, did you lose weight?”
“She should not be wearing that top.”
“If you’re fat than I’m huge.”
“I wish I had her stomach.”
Sadly, these are phrases that have been mindlessly integrated into the everyday lives of women and girls. Whether we are saying them to ourselves or they pop up in conversations with our friends we are participating in a toxic practice known as, Fat Talk. This October, which is the month that holds Fat Talk Free Week, I have personally learned a lot about what Fat Talk is and just how much we participate in this negative discourse.
What is Fat Talk?
Fat Talk is any discussion that promotes the “thin ideal” and motivates the issue of trying to achieve unrealistic beauty goals. This female dominated dialogue causes a negative relationship with their bodies and sets the stage for eating disorders, sometimes even unconsciously.
One study concluded that 93% of college women admitted engaging in this kind of talk. It has dangerously become a way for women to bond with one another. We deconstruct aspects of ourselves and compare them to our friends in an effort to show discontent. It has become an expected way to not only speak about ourselves, but an idea we have been socially taught we must believe and see ourselves – as always in need of. In the 1980’s researchers coined the term, normative discontent, for the weight dissatisfaction that is emerging as a societal stereotype for women, and even men.
Operation Beautiful is just one of many initiatives fighting to end negative self-talk. OB does so by posting anonymous positive notes around communities for people to find and remind everyone they are beautiful and empower change in how we view ourselves. The initiative’s website gives a few points on how everyone can end the Fat Talk:
- Consciously correct yourself if you Fat Talk. Replace those thoughts with something realistic and positive.
- Don’t compare your body to others.
- Appreciate your body for what it can do. If you feel down and are Fat Talking, try going for a walk and enjoy being outside.
- Turn a negative into a positive. Instead of “I’m stocky,” try “I’m strong!”
- Never Fat Talk in front of your kids or friends.
Fat Talk is a catalyst to unhealthy behaviors and only instills the social pressure to be the “thin-ideal” that we already see glossed on the covers of magazines and promoted by weight loss products. Beauty does not come in a specific size, attribute, or look. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “…true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows.” Let’s cut the Fat Talk and encourage generations of self-love instead of self-loathing. As women let’s combat the social stigma of an “ideal woman,” and learn to love ourselves and one another for being healthy versions of ourselves.