Yesterday, I featured six types of ‘fat talk’ from Cynthia Bulik’s book The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like with Who You Are. Today, I’m sharing the remaining six categories.
As Bulik points out in her book, fat talk is ubiquitous, insidious and harmful.
Fortunately, we can do something about it. And that’s incredibly empowering.
That’s because once we can diagnose the problem, we can find the proper treatment. If you don’t know that you’re fat-talking — whether with yourself or with others — you won’t know to stop, and you’ll continue drowning in a pool of negativity and body-bashing. And you might pass on the cycle, pulling others underwater with you.
Most of the categories below involve people making hurtful remarks about others. If you’ve ever made these remarks to someone else (or thought these things about yourself), I hope you’ll reconsider.
I hope you’ll realize their powerful negative impact, and that both you and others deserve better.
7. Joking Fat Talk
Here people try to find humor in someone’s size. You might say a joke about another person’s weight or poke fun at yourself as a kind of preemptive strike.
Example from the book: “They better not stick me in the window-exit aisle, or else none of us will ever get out of this plane alive.”
8. Stealth Fat Talk
Bulik describes this as a type of “fat talk in sheep’s clothes.” People will often compliment others based on their weight. And these compliments are anything but kind or flattering.
Such “compliments” imply that a) something was wrong with you before, b) weight-loss is inherently attractive and c) you can tell someone’s health or happiness based on their size.
Example: “You look great! Have you lost weight?”
9. Fat-Stigmatization Fat Talk
This type of talk is directed toward “‘fat people’ in general,” Bulik says. “It includes ‘shoulds,’ and ‘should nots,’ and all of the deep-seated prejudices that we hold toward individuals of size.”
Example: “I don’t want to have to pay for the extra material it takes to manufacture clothing in their size.”
10. Fat-Is-Ugly Fat Talk
This talk perpetuates the myth that fat and attractive are oxymorons. (Let me set the record straight right now: They’re absolutely synonymous.)
Example: “Such a shame she is so big — she has such a pretty face.”
11. Personalized, Disrespectful Fat Talk
According to Bulik, “This is targeted, personal, petty fat talk directed at a specific person about specific aspects of her or his appearance.”
(Personally, if I were to describe this, I’d say that this is the jerk who feels it’s their duty to tell someone what they should do, eat, wear, when really they ought to be focused on themselves and themselves only.)
Example: “Do you really need that ice cream?”
Bulik says that she actually witnessed a thin person telling a fat person this very thing. Isn’t that incredibly infuriating?
12. Bullying Fat Talk
Bulik writes that “Bullying fat talk goes beyond disrespectful and crosses the line to purposeful, hurtful and power seeking.” This starts in childhood and progresses into adulthood.
Example: “I can hardly stand being in the same room with you anymore. How could you have let yourself go so much?”
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to reduce or eliminate fat talk.
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Last reviewed: 12 Apr 2012