It’s just another evening with the girls. “Do I look fat in my jeans?” Another woman runs her hands over her thighs and scowls at her reflection. “You look skinny. I’m bigger than you. I put on two pounds this week.” This kind of comparison damages body image by using size and shape to assess people’s value. Does the scenario seem familiar? If so, you’ve faced confidence-destroying “fat talk,” and no doubt, regularly.
Why “Fat Talk” Happens
There are many reasons “fat talk” occurs. The most obvious, perhaps, is the world is visual. Modern technology lets people share images of themselves with a click. The result is women and men comparing themselves to snapshots of others. Such pictures, though, are often airbrushed or show fitness fanatics with sculpted bodies. Most observers, who can’t compete, imagine they aren’t good enough.
The problem isn’t the technology that allows unrealistic images to spread but people’s dependence on them. Obsessing over achieving a sexy body takes the place of life-enhancing personal development. You’ll never hear someone complain about how spiritually bereft they are, but they might worry about belly fat.
“Most people compare themselves to others and point out their perceived flaws. Doing so has become acceptable and normal, but it’s time to change,” stated Winnipeg health expert, Gabriel Patterson.
How to Stop
Stopping fat talk may be tough when others want you to join in with defeatist chatter. Once not discussing your size, weight, or shape is a habit, doing so will be easy. You’ll be a pioneer, showing the way to those with a poor body image. They will be curious about your growing confidence and want to change too.
The best way to stop fat talk is to focus on your positive physical qualities. When you get the urge to put your looks down, seek an aspect of your appearance that you like and talk about it instead. Thus, “I feel fat in this dress” might become “I like the way this dress shows off my curves.”
Do the same for your friends too. If you catch them comparing their bodies unfavorably, don’t play the “say it isn’t so” game. Instead of telling them they look slim, talk about aspects of their appearance that you find attractive. “With your beautiful smile, you would look fabulous in any outfit” will do the trick if it’s true. Take the emphasis off body size altogether and shift it to positive attributes.
You can’t make people stop fat talk, but you can be a terrific role model for a healthy body image. “By not engaging in negative banter about weight and size, and choosing to talk about positive qualities, you can turn the tables,” Gabriel Patterson of Winnipeg described. You’ll be a breath of fresh air, everyone with a poor self-image needs and show them how to be different.