Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We Have the Power: Fat Talk

I am beginning to believe that the single most powerful thing we can do to change the conversation about body image is to stop the fat talk. Let me explain a little. What do you hear when you get a room full of women? Often the conversation winds it's way to food, calories, fat, etc. So many times women put themselves down only to have a friend say, "oh you look great, look at me I'm . . ." It's never positive. We have built a culture around putting ourselves down. We tell the world we are fatter/uglier/shorter/etc than everyone else. Then we start to believe it.

When eating with a group you can usually bet that someone will comment on how fattening a particular dish is. They may eat it anyway but tell the group that they will be doing penance for it tomorrow to make up for the added calories and fat. Or maybe you skip eating in front of others only to get hungrier and hungrier until you go home and binge.

Personally I have been or done all of these things. And others. This is so damaging. We have built this attitude around food and eating that is unhealthy. Eating should be about nourishing our bodies. It should make us feel good. When you start labeling food as bad or good you create feelings of guilt around eating. That guilt causes negative body images. It's a vicious cycle that is terribly engrained in our society as a whole.

But here's what concerns me even more than the damage we are doing to our own self image. Think of all those little ears that are listening and watching. Maybe what you are saying doesn't hold much bearing on how you actually feel. Maybe you're just talking like that to fit in with the group. Fat talk is a powerful force. It drags you in. But what about the children and teenagers? They don't know what you are thinking. The way we talk and act is shaping the way they see food. The way we treat food and ourselves is a pattern for how our children will act.

Now think for a minute if there were no more fat talk. What is we didn't label food? What if we just ate until we were full and then stopped? What if we enjoyed our meals for what they truly are? What if we honored our bodies? What if we loved our appearance? What if our focus was on treating ourselves with respect? Now think, if all of these things were practiced what would happen to the coming generation? I can only imagine how wonderful life would be. Pressure to be a size 1 would ease. Eating disorders would be rare. People would be confident, happy, and successful.

And what would happen to us? Well, I think we would start seeing our true beauty and worth as well. You know the adage "Fake it till you make it"? I think that applies here. If we stop the negative talk and replace it with positive words soon we will believe it.

This, my friends, is why I feel that stopping the fat talk could be the single most powerful thing we can do to help change the image of what people should look like. Try it for two days. Don't engage in it at all. Change all negative talk to positive. Walk away if you don't have the power to change the conversation to another topic. You don't have to participate in it.

From today on I'm making it my personal mission to never fat talk again (and not to beat myself up if I slip up). It may not make me popular, but I believe it will add immensely to my happiness and the happiness of my family.

For ideas on how to stop fat talk check out this awesome article.


Jenarcissist @ the closet narcissist said...


Did you post this on BlogHer? If not, you should. This NEEDS to be one of the featured "Own Your Beauty" posts.

I still find myself guilty of doing this sometimes. Even with KameraWhore, with whom the conversation inevitably turns to how hot we are. lol When we first see each other, almost at the same time, we're like, "Ohh, look how cute you look!!! Me, well...(insert some sort of self-deprecating thing here)." No more!!

Ann Becker-Schutte, Ph.D. said...

This article was so on point. I am realizing that I need to surround myself with articles like this and thinkers like you as I prepare to head into the "mom of school-aged child" category this fall. Thanks for the validation and solidarity!