In case you haven’t heard, this week is Fat Talk Free Week, a national campaign to help raise awareness of the dangers of ‘fat talk’ so many girls and women participate in. You know, all those things we say to ourselves, like, “do I look fat in this” or “gee, you look wonderful — did you lose some weight?” to the talk in our own mirror “argh, I just hate my thighs! I’ve got to go on a diet.”
The motto of the campaign is “friends don’t let friends talk fat.” And I’m on board.
I’ve got to admit, it does feel good to tell someone they’ve lost weight. Or that they look good in their ‘skinny jeans.’ And let’s face it — I used to like hearing people tell me those things. But here’s the deal:
By doing so, we are putting our bodies above our brains. Above our personality. Women and girls today are so obsesessed with their bodies, and with their weight. And it only causes harm.
Don’t believe me? According to statistics:
- 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance
- 50% of 9 and 10 year old feel better about themselves if they are on a diet (nine and ten year olds!)
- 45% of women are on a diet on any given day
- 80% of children who are ten years old are afraid to be fat (unbelievable..)
- 42% of elementary students between the 1st and 3rd grade want to be thinner (is this for real? Sadly, yes)
- 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting
Okay, that’s a lot of statistics (and I’m not a numbers or math kinda girl…), but I can tell you this: we are a nation where we are afraid of being F-A-T. The big bad three letter word.
And it’s kind of ironic where in the United States approximatly 66% of adults are obese or overweight. And whether you agree with that particular statistic is not the point.
But here is the point: We are not only afraid of being FAT, we are often afraid of FOOD. We look at food as something that either makes us thin or makes us fat. Or helps us lose weight or gain weight.
We have created a nation where both girls AND women are so confused, so messed up, that you put a plateful of cookies on a platter at a party and guess what the majority of women are talking about? The calories. The fat grams. How “oh they look so good, but I just can’t.” Or how they ate so “good” earlier in the day, that “okay, I’ll have just one” (though they secretly want two).
Think I’m being extreme? Try it. Next time you’re at a party bring a big, chocolate, gooey, “guilty” cake. And just watch the women. They’ll be talking among themselves about it. And if they’re not talking to each other, they’ll be talking to themselves…you know, that little voice we all have.
And let’s face it. We’ve all done it. I’ve done it — WAY too long, I’ll tell ya.
So what makes us all so crazy and obsessed over a plate of cookies or a big chocolate cake — or afraid of being fat?
Personally, I don’t think it’s one thing. I think it’s a combination of things. And we are all different. But here are some of the things that can help push us there:
The media, the super-skinny actresses, the ultra-thin models, all the talk on tv about heart disease, diabetes, the obesity epidemic (though I agree we need to be healthy, I feel as a nation we’re obsessed), and of course, the words we use when we talk to others or ourselves. The Fat Talk.
Turn on the tv, flip through a magazine, or walk through a mall and all you’ll see is: Drop pounds faster! Banish belly fat! Is it still safe to eat seafood? Flat abs fast! The 15 best power foods! 8 Ways to lose weight faster! Beat belly flab for good! Get thinner thighs in just minutes a day! (Note: These are REAL headlines taken off magazines sitting around my house).
Go food shopping and all you see is low-fat, light, 100-calorie packs, low-calorie, low-carb, zero trans fats, healthy choice — you get my drift.
Now I just noted that I do HAVE (and yes I read) some magazines (hey, I like a little guilty pleasure and as I’m in the business of helping women stop dieting, I like to see what’s out there). As far as the low fat stuff — personally I stay away. But that’s just me.
“So what’s all this got to do with End Fat Talk Week?” you’re asking. Lots. But I could write a whole book on it, and just maybe I will.
In my work with clients MANY of them have some type of body image issue. Sure, we don’t like to THINK that we do, but lots of us do. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. And it sucks. Literally. It sucks the life out of….well…your life. It consumes your day. Takes up wasted time & energy. And just makes you feel like crap. And so then you eat crappy food. And then you feel like crap again. And you tell yourself you are bad, that you’re fat. It’s a viscious circle.
But I want to way this: We are constantly bombarded with messages, and mixed-messages at that. We have so much pressure on us to be thin, pretty, fit into our skinny jeans, cook wonderful meals, eat organic, go to the gym, do pilates, hold down a good job, make decent money and be nice to people all the time. Which are all great to strive for. But let’s face it — we’re not perfect. We’re not supposed to be perfect (though I know if often doesn’t feel that way).
No wonder our girls are dieting as young as 4 years old. No wonder we look in the mirror and often don’t like what we see. No wonder when we go out to a restaurant where one portion could easily feed a family of four, yet we finish the whole thing. No wonder we never feel “enough.” Not pretty enough. Not thin enough. Not rich enough. Not young enough. Not sexy enough.
I’m getting off track here (can you tell I’m passionate about this?)
So listen, bottom line: Try to be nice to yourself this week. Don’t get on the scale. Don’t tell yourself you hate your stomach. And don’t tell your friend she looks thin. Stay away from the magazines for a week. Eat a piece of chocolate cake and ENJOY it without counting how many calories are in it.
In other words — Don’t Talk FAT.
And if you want more helpful hints and tips on body image — check out the Reflections Body Image Program, who are the same people and organizations that started & promote the End Fat Talk Week.
But remember — it all stars with YOU.
Even if you start with just one day — just one day where you don’t talk “fat talk” to yourself. And start doing it more. Because if we want things to change, we need to start with ourselves.
And you deserve it!