Why You Should Stop The "Fat Talk"
Nobody really wants to hear you bash your (or anyone else’s) body. Whether it seems positive or negative, any speech that gives preference to a certain body size or appearance is a bad thing. Recent research sheds new light on what we already know: fat talk is detrimental to your health.
What is Fat Talk?
Fat talk is body-specific speech that focuses on the size, shape, weight, or appearance of someone’s body in relation to being fat or thin. In our quest to reach a healthy weight, all too often we have conversations that are not useful to our quest for a healthy lifestyle. Specifically, comparing, sizing up, or otherwise criticizing your or other’s bodies has nothing to do with being healthy and could actually reinforce negative body image.
Nobody Likes a Fat Talker
You know there are thin people who eat terribly and don’t workout, and on the other hand, there are those who are overweight who eat balanced diets and workout daily. Just the same, there are thin people who are fat-talkers and overweight people who have a healthy body image, but no matter what size you are, nobody likes a fat talker. Notre Dame’s Body Image and Eating Disorder Lab recently conducted research that tested college-age women who either had positive weight-related talk vs. those who engaged in “fat talk.” No matter their size, the fat talkers were rated less likeable than those who had positive body talk. So, whether you’re overweight or thin, don’t feel as though it’s ok to talk about body image in a disparaging way.
Fat Fears are Contagious
Aside from hurting your own or others’ self esteem, another reason not to engage in fat talk is because it may actually make it harder for you to accept the body you’ve got. Body Image recently published a report that outlined the power of literature in influencing body image. Even reading people’s negative thoughts about their bodies can affect your own self-esteem. How much more would face-to-face interaction about insecurities make you pick yourself apart. Don’t spread the poision. And remember, it doesn’t matter what size you are, fat talk is not good for you. A separate study found women who feared becoming fat had rated their image lower than women who simply wanted to be thin. This suggests that fat talk may actually make you feel more insecure about your weight. What’s more, consistent fat talk could inhibit you or others from taking the necessary steps to get healthy.
How to Respond to Fat Talk
Many of us engage in fat talk out of routine, or we're just responding to others’ fat talk, but either way it’s trouble for anyone involved. The so-called “thin ideal” promotes the faulty assumption that people who are “skinny” are healthy, more beautiful, or more desirable than their larger counterparts. To turn the fat talk on its head and promote healthy talk about weight, flip the script. Instead of reacting to your or others’ negative comments about size, shape, or weight, focus on the intrinsic rewards of leading a healthy lifestyle. By applying how you as an individual feel better, are more confident, or have more energy than you once did, you're shining the light on the real reason why getting healthy is good for you.
Tips to Counter Fat Talk
Don’t compare your body or weight loss goals to others.
Accept compliments about your body and don’t counter them with mention of certain body parts or size or weight-related talk.
Talk about improvements in fitness and health related to healthy habits, i.e. eating healthier makes me more focused, I have more energy since I’ve started working out, etc.
Celebrate reaching goals of being healthy instead of numbers.
How have you overcome fat talk to focus on a healthy lifestyle?