re-picturing FAT TALK

Do you engage in fat talk?

A classic example:

One person says: “I’m so fat”

Another person says: “No you’re not.”

There is a lot of scientific evidence that women and especially adolescent girls frequently engage in fat talk with other women and girls.

I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, it can promote closeness and connection with others. Women need to be able to talk about appearance and weight-related issues, especially with other women.  Society places an enormous weight on girls and women when it comes to their appearance. Being able to vocalize and share that experience with others can be freeing. It is also somewhat positive and complimentary. Given the importance we place on women’s bodies, hearing someone else say that we look OK or good enough can be reassuring.

On the other hand, however, implicit in “fat talk” is the idea that it is not OK for women to be heavier or bigger. In fact, when people hear fat talk, they tend to think being skinny is even more important than before they heard it. When I was 17, I lost 20 pounds very quickly. I never fancied myself as fat, but after I lost the weight, you would not believe how many people asked “Have you lost weight? You look great.” Gosh, how bad did I look before? It is for this reason that I rarely ask people if they’ve lost weight. Again, it seems complimentary, but carries along heavy baggage.

Do you engage in fat talk? Do you think it helps, hurts, or both?

I wish I could offer a simple answer here, but I think it is a difficult and weighty issue.

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  1. These days, I really try NOT to engage in fat talk. I used to focus on this more in the past, but found it to have such negative repercussions. Have to also mention that I enjoyed the play on words throughout your post.

  2. I have a friend that drives me batty with fat talk. She is the smallest person I have ever met. WAY smaller than me yet is constantly beating herself down. I know it is her issue yet I think since I am not nearly as small as her what does she think about MY size? There are times I feel self conscious about my appearance for sure but I most definitely try to be mindful about throwing around the word fat. Especially in front of my daughter who very carefully listens to every word.

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