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TRIMMING THE "FAT TALK" (RACHEL DORE, PSY.D.). 31 Jul 2013

Lauren Boggi at Bands

“Look at this pooch! No matter how much I suck in, there is still that little roll right there!”

“You’re curvy, so you can get away with it, you can’t even tell I swear! See, these love-handles are way more noticeable on me because I have no boobs or butt.”

“What love handles?! SHUT UP, if you think those are love handles … I don’t even want to know what you think of these (Squeeze, squeeze)...”

Fat talk¸ or talking negatively about the shape or size of your body, is a common type of banter that women (especially) are often exposed to. As this study from Northwestern University shows, most women engage in Fat Talk. The most common response observed in these types of social exchanges are: 1) denying that one’s friend is fat and 2) stating that in fact they are the one that is fat... Sound familiar?

Even though the focus is on physical, observed flaws of the body, the damage happens internally. Talking about yourself this way it introduces a negative thinking pattern that quickly impacts other domains of life. This University of Arizona study found that fat talk predicts lower levels of body satisfaction, higher levels of depressive symptoms, and greater perceived pressure to be thin. Talking smack about your beautiful body is harmful not only to yourself, but can also negatively affect how others feel about themselves. Recent research has found that hearing others engage in fat talk not only makes us feel guilty about our own bods, but also makes us more likely to engage in fat talk, ourselves.

Still feel like whining about your cellulite? Fine, but people will like you less. A recent study conducted at the University of Notre Dame’s Body Image and Eating Disorders Lab found that women who engage in fat talk are far less-likeable compared to those who make positive statements about their body.

I realize it is unrealistic to trash Fat Talk completely… we are all here, working out together, because we care about our bodies. Some of us are here with specific goals in mind. For example, if you are packing your Lithe schedule with Peeled and Wings to tone your upper-half, it is not unreasonable to want to pay closer attention to your arms for the month! Totally normal, as long as you are able to keep things in perspective: having crazy-ripped arms is cool, but it won’t make you a better mother, nor will it make dinner with the in-laws less-awkward…

As women, we often equate the way our body looks with certain desirable attributes and ideas (e.g., success, achievement, happiness etc.) but in so doing, we are taking power away from ourselves as autonomous, strong women. We are minimizing the importance of our mental capacities and capabilities to achieve these ideals, which in reality, have no correlation with how toned our arms are.

So…what kind of locker room buddy do you want to be?! It’s up to you what you say and to whom, but think twice about this kind of blasphemous babble now that you know the consequences it could have on you and those around you.

 Stay tuned for my tips on ways to keep your internal and external dialogues “fat”-free!

Image of Lauren Boggi at the bands wearing Lithe via Dom

 

 

Comments

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Ugh, there is nothing more boring than being around a woman that is putting herself down. Thank you for addressing that part of this but I always found that behavior to seem very needy. Like they need to be reassured that they are thin and pretty and that people like them. I feel like I'm being baited into this whole dialogue sometimes because someone is feeling insecure that day. Like, 'is this the part where I'm supposed to respond by pointing out how my physical flaws are worse? Or can I just get away with breezily saying that they are beautiful they way they are and make a quick exit'

Thank you thank you thank you for writing this article! I would love nothing better then to print this off and pass it around. It's always an awkward conversation and one I try to steer clear of. It happens all the time and I'm so grateful that this was posted for all women to see. Thank you!

Colleen- Exactly! Its so crazy how an innocent convo can go from zero to toxic in a matter of just a few words. Remember that you should never feel obligated to talk badly about yourself to make someone else feel better- I vote for the quick exit approach :)

Sarah- you are so very welcome, I really enjoyed writing this. Your feedback makes this process that much more gratifying.

Lithe-on, sistahs! xo

I love the lack of this kind of self-trashing talk at Lithe and how much positive reinforcement Lithers give each other. It's culturally ingrained in so many ways for women to bond over putting ourselves down and focusing on the negative. This post is a great reminder that it's up to us and totally in our power to reject those mindsets and break that mold.

Rachel, great post, and you're a fantastic writer! "Blasphemous babble" is totally going to be part of my new response when I hear this kind of talk around me. ;)

I find that women and negativity are too close together too often.
I think if you have self-confidence and a positive outlook - share it! We can decrease blasphemous babble by being supportive of each other and encouraging other women to love their bodies, their careers, and be less critical!

Thanks Rachel for this post and its useful resources!

I completely agree that women do this to themselves and each other way too much. But we're not examining why. This would be an exceedingly more realistic goal if literally every medium did not exclusively exhibit images of women that are completely fat free. Not everyone, myself included, is ever going look like the beautiful women's bodies on Lithe's website and blog, no matter how hard we work, and that can promote insecurity and self-doubt. Unless and until someone includes the reality of the presence of fat on a beautiful female body, this problem will persist. Even with "plus sized" models making major waves these days, their bellies and thighs are still air brushed to the hilt - not a dimple or fat roll in sight. Being "fit" and having some fat are not mutually exclusive - but the fashion and fitness industries certainly try to tell, and more importantly, show us they are. "Fat talk" is a product of being reminded every day, by fitness, fashion, and media outlets, that only fat-free is beautiful. IMHO, that is what could also stand to change.

I completely agree with Erin. Until society starts to accept all bodies, women will continue to feel inadequte. The sad part is that what is considered "plus size" today is actually normal sized. To me being a size 0,2,4 and even 6 is not attainable or even desirable but society is saying that is what is the norm. it needs to change. I work out 5x days a week and eat healthy but beacuse im considered a "larger" size, society has labeled me as plus size and that is damaiaging to ones self esteem

Lithe, unlike most other workout places, does have different body sizes and types as the instructors.

I live in DC now and at the Bar Method places I've taken classes- it is only size 0 instructors. I quit after a month because I just never felt comfortable.

I also remember back to an old Lithe blog post from four years ago where Lauren told folks not to work out here if they were going to talk about folks having bulky thighs or if they were bragging about not eating.

Lithe strikes a good balance of being health focused while avoiding body shaming. Sure, I won't look like most of the instructors- but I am never expected to nor am I judged. We are just expected to give our workout our all-- so that we build fit, hip, healthy lives.

Fit- doesn't have a jean size or a a number on the scale

It's about being Lithestrong. And, I am lithesick everyday in DC because nothing comes close to Lithe.

The "why" is an interesting viewpoint, seeing as we live in a society where we are bombarded by images of airbrushed celebrities and products guaranteeing a quick fix for instant weight loss. But isn't saying that you'll "never" look like these women just another sort of fat-talk, self-fulfilling prophecy?

I have to say, as someone who suffered from an easting disorder in high school and most of college, I think Lithe does a terrific job of inspiring women to be the best version of themselves. Lauren has created an amazing workout that transforms your body, but doesn't aspire to make everyone look the same. Yes, the images on Lithe's website and this blog are aspirational, because, at it's core, Lithe is a business and that imaging certainly shows off the results of Lithing. However, I've never felt that Lithe promotes thinness as an end goal; it promotes being strong and healthy, and I think the imaging Lauren chooses here, in the studios, and on the webpage does just that.

Hi all, great conversation here. I love it!

E, you are correct; you took the words out of my mouth re: our website and blog images being aspirational. We aim to inspire, empower and showcase our instructors, who are real (imperfect) women with real results from doing the workout and living the lifestyle. They are the best that they can be and all of you can be that! It's truly a realistic goal.

We aim to celebrate body types via our instructors. Our instructors must be healthy and Lithe. They embody our brand; they are our ambassadors. It's their job to lead, inspire, and get you off your butts and moving.

Although some of our workout names like Skinny Mini, Twiggy, Thinny, and Skinny Jeans reflect trends in cultural/societal Americana, it's meant to be cute, tongue-in-cheek, creative and FUN. I believe that working out shouldn't be taken too seriously. Personally, a class named Skinny Jeans inspires me more than Boyfriend Jeans. I've never met a woman who doesn't want to look great in their skinny jeans (regardless of their size!).

The bottom line is, if you don't leave Lithe smiling, we haven't done our job : )

I have 2 children and am still trying to lose the weight 4 years on am trying http://capsiplexexposed.co.uk slimming tablets Anyone else tried Capsiplex with success?

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