Fat talk. It’s everywhere. We use it to bond, justify insecurities and openly self-loathe. It’s a conversation tool that is overly accepted in society under a thin veil of camaraderie. But it’s not friendly, and it is unhealthy. This negative self talk is poisoning and its use perpetuates a stigma that skinny=happy.
And that equation is wrong.
You may have heard or participated in a conversation like the following:
“I feel so fat. I shouldn’t have eaten that cookie.”
“I’m having a fat day.”
“You’re not fat, I’m fat! Just look at my arms/gut/butt/thighs!”
To sum it up, fat talk is the act of shaming your body for not being the ideal weight you wish it to be. Fat talk can be verbal and internal. Heard in dressing rooms, break rooms and dinner tables everywhere, this form of self-deprecation can really leave a mark on the psyche.
When we fat talk, we reinforce harmful thinking about our personal worth. In other words, fat talk affects the way we really feel about ourselves. It negatively broadcasts to others, including children, on how to view our relationships to food and happiness. In this post from the New York Times blog, author KJ Dell’Atonia shares, “There’s a line between talking about healthy eating and healthy choices, and talking — often — about how those choices affect our appearance, or at least the way we feel about our appearance.”
The truth is you won’t gain weight from eating one cookie. And, you’re not a bad person for being hungrier than usual on certain days. Fat talking reinforces ideas like this. There’s nothing wrong with being hungry or enjoying dessert. A healthy lifestyle incorporates listening to what your body needs, even when you are working towards shedding extra pounds.
The easiest way to stop fat talk is by refusing to participate. If a friend suggests that he or she feels too fat to have a cookie, reply with “Nonsense, you look great!” and then change the subject. The simple act of dismissing the conversation is typically enough to deter the friend from going any further. Another more direct approach is to declare fat talk off limits. If, in the above situation, a friend continuously tries to steer the conversation towards more fat talk, let them know that you don’t want to participate. Just say, “Hey there, easy on the fat talk that’s my friend you’re talking about” or anything along those lines should suffice. For more tips on how to re-direct the fat-talking conversation, check out this great blog post.
If you find yourself thinking fat talk-like thoughts, try utilizing the following tactics:
Not sure if fat talk is as invasive in your life? Try keeping track of how often it comes up in conversations or personal thoughts. The frequency may surprise you.