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