The Hurtful Implications of Fat Talk
I read a phrase today that I never knew existed: fat talk. In an online article from NBC’s TODAY Show, the concept of fat talk and its potential harm to self esteem were discussed. As I continued reading, all I could think was, “That’s me! That’s me!”
Fat talk is when you discuss with friends, family members, and other females how large you are. I know this because I frequently engage in it. Most of the time, even as I hear myself utter the words – “I’m so tired of being fat” – I feel nothing but a sense of disappointment. Yes, it’s disappointing to feel this way about myself, but it’s also disappointing to know I’ve let my weight get to the point where it’s commonly a topic of conversation.
The real issue, however, is that fat talk can damage a woman’s self esteem. The insulting words ooze negativity. They are a personal condemnation at their very worst, as women seek to verbalize everything they hate about themselves. A statement like, “All of my fat is in my stomach,” can quickly lead to a pity party about poor eating habits and lack of exercise. That conversation, in turn, can develop into even more severe criticisms: “I always eat when I’m upset, although I hate myself afterwards” or “I’m such a pig I even eat when I’m not hungry.”
These sentiments pose a situation in which women feel the need to best each other, like a competition in which only the worst wins. “I’m definitely fatter than you.” “No way, my butt is much bigger than yours.”
Fishing for Reassurance
Fat talk is emotionally disruptive, especially because it often stems from a need for reassurance. The article suggests that women want to be reassured they’re not as fat as they claim to be or that their quest for perfection is actually visible. In this way, sometimes we’re simply hunting for compliments. It's an outward manifestation of our insecurity always lurking just beneath the surface begging to be unleashed so that it can consume the person in whom it resides.
As an overweight person, sometimes I do feel nearly devoured by insecurity. I have “fat” days in which I feel three times larger than I actually am. During these bouts I look at myself in the mirror and think, “Why bother?” Why bother trying to exercise, or eat right or even fix my hair? The fat in my stomach and around my cheeks is all I can see. I feel so huge that I figure I should just toss in the towel, grab a gallon of ice cream, and a large double-cheese pizza and lay down on the couch to stuff my face.
Fat talk increases my hopelessness. Verbalizing my personal weight struggles only makes it more real. What we should do, each and every one of us, is forego fat talk and converse about real world issues: poverty, famine, natural disasters, child abuse, and religious persecution, just to name a few. Or, better yet, maybe we should engage in self-love talk, in which each of us intimates something we like about ourselves. I would discuss my eyes, which I inherited from my grandfather and mother. And then I would smile at the woman beside me and say, “What do you think is your best feature?”
We need to banish fat talk forever, forgive ourselves for not being perfect and embrace the bodies God gave us. Oh, if only it were that easy.