“Ugh, I look so fat in these jeans.”
“You look great! But I should not be wearing sleeveless shirts. Look at my arms jiggle!”
Sound familiar? If so, you are one of the many women who engage in fat talk. Simultaneously, a method of fishing for compliments and tearing yourself down, fat talk is something that simply needs to stop.
In a recent study, 93 percent of college-aged women admitted to engaging in fat talk. It’s something that has become part of how women speak with each other.
“Even if you don’t feel that way about your body, women talk that way as if that’s how they should be talking,” said Jan Hoffman on the Today Show. She also wrote about the topic in a recent article for the New York Times. Fat talk has invaded our conversations and our culture.
Think of the scene around the mirror in Mean Girls:
“My calves are huge!”
“At least you guys can wear halter tops, I have man shoulders.”
That’s fat talk in its most basic form. Girls and women are putting themselves down in an attempt to find reassurance that they aren’t in fact, fat. Fat talk also serves as a way for women to come together in conversations, like the one happening this week at The Conversation with Busy Phillips.
“It’s a bonding topic, so it helps sort of ease the discomfort between friends and have something to complain about together,” said Belisa Vranich, a wellness coach, on Today.
What seems like innocent chatter is actually quite detrimental. “All women engage in this [fat talk] and it’s very disastrous for our self-esteem and own body image and reaching our goals,” said Emme, a supermodel. A big concern about fat talk is what starts as a way to get others to say nice things about your body turns into a competition of who can find the most flaws. Women are already bombarded with skewed visions of body image; they hardly need to do the same thing to each other.
The easiest way to fight fat talk is to not engage in it. How you look, or how you feel about how you look, don’t have to be part of any conversation. Instead, focus on the positive things going on in your life. Talk about your promotion, your new hobby or even the fact that you’re just in a really great mood. Compliment people if they look great, but don’t use that as a catalyst to start shaming yourself. If someone offers you a compliment on your appearance, say thank you and move on. Keep fat talk out of your own conversations, and watch how quickly it disappears from the conversations around you.