How we talk about ourselves to others speaks volumes. It’s wearing self-loathing on your sleeves. It’s showing others that you don’t deserve to take up space. That your “flaws” deserve a spotlight, but your positive qualities don’t. That your physical appearance is the most important trait about you. That you’re a few parts – your hips, your belly, your legs – and not truly whole.
Whether it’s a comment here and there about your thighs, weight or overall physical appearance or a constant conversation you keep having, fat talk can be damaging to our self-confidence, to our body image.
It becomes a cycle. The more we fat talk, the more negative our body image becomes. The more negative our body image becomes, the more we fat talk.
Basically, no good can come from fat talk, but so much can from stopping it. So, today, I wanted to share a few tips for stopping fat talk.
By the way, if you didn’t get a chance to, check out yesterday’s interview with clinical psychologist and researcher Denise Martz, Ph.D, who shared her insight about fat talk.
Stopping Fat Talk
- Become aware of your fat talk. Sometimes, we don’t even realize how often we talk negatively about our bodies to others. I used to make negative remarks about myself all the time in grad school, and it really bothered my close friends. The comments were as routine as brushing my teeth, and, well, breathing. So I rarely paid attention to their frequency. Once I did, though, I was surprised and saddened. Think about what type of a problem your fat talk really is. Be scientific about it, and just observe yourself for a week. Don’t judge. Just observe, and write down the results.
- Think about other things you can talk about. There are so many other topics you can talk about with your friends – fulfilling topics that get at the important stuff. I think that many times we talk about our thighs because we don’t want to talk about our lives (sorry for the rhyming). If you’d rather not talk about the deeper topics, go with lighthearted ones. Talk about TV shows, books, hobbies, what makes you happy. I doubt it’s fat talk.
- How does fat talk make you feel? Consider how talking negatively about yourself impacts you. Again, remember that words have a power over us, whether you notice this or not. My line when I made any negative remark about myself was that I’m simply stating facts. I’m just tellin it like it is. Maybe. But what I was mostly doing was slowly and deeply chipping away at my self-confidence, and only making myself feel worse and worse.
- What’s behind your fat talk? Just like your body image may reveal deeper wounds, so can your fat talk. My self-deprecating comments revealed an ingrained belief that I wasn’t good enough. They should’ve been my clue to start working on these deeper issues. Let your fat talk be your clue, too.
- Think about the triggers. What precipitates the fat talk? Is it a friend’s comments about herself? Your own negative beliefs? Looking at a woman’s magazine? Criticism from a family member? Once you can identify the triggers, you can work through them. If a friend initiates the fat talk, talk to her about why it’s important to stop, and ask her where it’s coming from. If it’s your own inner critic, start working on quieting her. If it’s a family member, tell them how you feel. If it’s a woman’s magazine, become a smarter consumer and learn about airbrushing and the truly unhealthy habits these magazines suggest; and don’t buy them.
- Make it a positive game. If you make a negative comment about your body or your friends do about theirs, decide that everyone will list off three attributes they love about themselves right on the spot. This automatically turns the conversation into something positive. It’s so rare that we truly celebrate our qualities.
- Stop. While your fat talk might decrease tremendously, a comment might slip out from time to time. That’s OK. Just because you make a comment doesn’t mean that you can’t stop the conversation before it truly starts. So try to stop it.
- Discuss fat talk with friends. Ask your friends why they fat talk. How does it make them feel? Why do they feel the need to engage in it? What do they really mean? What would they rather talk about that’s meaningful and healthy? Have an honest conversation about where their fat talk comes from and how all of you can stop it.
- Spread the word, especially to kids, teens and college students. If you’ve got a younger sister, a child of your own, a niece or nephew, spread the positivity to them and really wherever you can. Try not to engage in fat talk in front of them, and if you do, explain the negative implications.
- Cultivate a healthy body image. Fat talk is often an extension of a negative body image. So improving your body image overall will trickle down to your fat talk, reducing or even stopping it. Here are some body image boosters to help.
Today’s favorite post. “An Argument for Self-Love” by Sally at Already Pretty – a beautiful post.
Do you fat talk often? How do you stop fat talk? What’s worked for you?