“I feel so fat today.”
“I just ate way too much….I’m disgusting.”
“Do these jeans make me look big?”
This is fat-talk. And I’m sick of it.
Do you really think these types of comments are helpful? Useful? Uplifting in any way? Do you think your daughter doesn’t pick up on your subtle remarks? Your shameful countenance when you try on a pair of jeans? Your expressions of guilt over eating too much for dinner?
We wonder why young girls are so insecure, why eating disorders are rampant and confidence is rare. Fat-talk is damaging.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit a college in Tennessee. I ate lunch in the cafeteria with about 8 other rising freshman, and guess what the topic of conversation was.
I’m eating too much. I need to lose weight. I want dessert…but I shouldn’t.
It made me realize that this is an epidemic. Women everywhere–of all ages–are engaging in self-destructive bullying. But why? Why do we fat-talk?
- Because we have the wrong idea that speaking negatively about ourselves is an indication of humility. We think that any positive remark towards our body will make people think that we are full of vanity and conceit.
- Because we are seeking approval. We want to hear that we look great, that we look skinny, that we should have dessert. Are we that insecure, that we need to go fishing for compliments and approval?
- Because, for some ridiculous reason, eating has become something that we feel needs to be justified. You can’t eat ice-cream simply because you want it. You can’t go back for seconds just because you are still hungry. Women feel that eating always has to be justified with “I haven’t eaten all day” or “I feel so guilty about this” or “I’m breaking my diet just this once.”
- Because the truth has been concealed by the habit of comparison. We only see other’s strengths and our own faults, and it drives us to criticize our appearance and our actions.
These are the reasons we engage in fat-talk, and every one of them is founded on a lie.
Here’s a fantastic quote by Kate Winslet:
“As a child, I never heard one woman say to me, “I love my body”. Not my mother, my elder sister, my best friend. No one woman has ever said, “I am proud of my body.” So I make sure to say it to Mia [her daughter], because a positive physical outlook has to start at an early age.”
The next time you are tempted to say something negative about yourself, ask “Would I say this to a friend?” “Would I want my daughter to think this about herself?”
The comments that we so freely make about our bodies don’t just effect us. They effect everyone around us. They tear down your friends and family. They contribute to the cycle that perpetuates insecurity and the need for affirmation from others. Fat-talk affirms the notion that the size of our bodies and the number on the scale determine our worth.
I encourage you to commit to putting a stop to this kind of speech by neither instigating nor engaging in fat-talk. The next time a friend apologizes or makes excuses for eating something “bad” or missing the gym, don’t respond with the typical “well you should see what I ate yesterday” or “well look how big my legs are.” You should instead tell them that their value, as well as your opinion of them, isn’t wrapped up in what they eat or how much they weigh.
It’s time to shut down fat talk.
Shhhh. You’re beautiful.
*That being said, if your child or friend has an eating disorder, you didn’t “give” them their illness by fat-talking in front of them. My mom never spoke negatively about her body or mine or allowed fat-talk in our home, yet I still had an eating disorder.
*Also, health is a separate issue. I do not believe in forgoing nutritious food or exercise, but it should be done with health in mind, not appearance.