Talking about our weight, the circumference of our thighs or our disastrous double chin is as natural (and hard to resist) as comparing ourselves to others, which is as natural (and hard to resist) as blinking. And apparently, it brings us together. According to one study, we bond over fat talk. When everyone’s doing it, it can be tough not to join in.
“Because women feel pressured to follow the fat talk norm, they are more likely to engage in fat talk with other females,” Martz [co-author of the study] told LiveScience. “Hence, women normalize their own body dissatisfaction with one another. If there are women out there who feel neutrally or even positively about their bodies, I bet we never hear this from them for fear of social sanction and rejection,” she said.
And the fat talk cycle continues. Surely, these sound familiar: “I won’t wear that until I lose 5 pounds.” “My stomach is so flabby.” “Her legs look huge in those shorts.” “I can’t believe I just ate that entire piece of cake.” “If I have another bite, I’m going to have to be rolled out of here.”
That’s where Fat Talk Free Week, which kicked off this week, comes in. Organized by the Tri Delta sorority, this international campaign aims to raise awareness about the negative effects of the thin ideal and poor body image.
So, what’s the big deal about engaging in fat talk?
According to the website:
We all lose when 50% of our population is distracted from more meaningful and fulfilling pursuits that make life full and worth living. And when 50% of our population is raised to hate their bodies, we all lose because research shows that body dissatisfaction is associated with poor health behaviors.
Boosting Body Image
Here’s how you can improve your body image, according to the Eating Recovery Center in Denver.
- Educate yourself and others. Increased awareness of eating disorders and body image concerns can help people understand why body image discrepancies arise and how to battle them. The models in the magazines weren’t born that way; airbrushing and photo editing programs promote the unattainable.
- Teach children healthy body behaviors. Parents and authority figures are the biggest role models in a child’s developing body image. Offer children constructive verbal messages; this can help build their self-esteem and enhance a positive body image.
- Be aware of your thoughts. Replacing negative thinking patterns with more positive ones can help rectify a poor body image. Think about what your body allows you to do, rather than how it looks. This can help redirect your focus toward appreciation of your body.
- Eliminate self-destructive behaviors. Self-destructive behaviors, such as overly critical comments about weight, can cause individuals to focus solely on their body’s negative aspects. Take a look in the mirror. Affirm positives and practice relaxation activities such as yoga or meditation to fully connect with your body.