A recent study suggests a whopping 93 percent of college women engage in what researchers term “fat talk.” With all the topics to occupy their conversations, one of their favorites is the size of their butts and thighs. When asked to describe the type of friend they imagine would most likely ask them “Do I look fat?” 86 percent of those surveyed imagined that friend to be thin. Their perception is that their thin friends are the ones most likely to guide them into the circular “fat talk” pit.
It seems today’s young women’s favorite topic of conversation is “fat talk.” Here’s what happens, you say, “I feel fat.” Then your friend replies, “OMG you are so not fat. If you’re fat, what am I?” Your response is then, “No I’m serious, look at my stomach.” Then your friend says, “You are so not fat, you are just bloated. At least you don’t have a muffin top like me.”
In Western cultures, women’s dissatisfaction with the size and shape of their bodies is so common that it has been termed “normative discontent.” Essentially, the feelings of sadness women and girls have from discussing their bodies so much are intricately tied to their personal self-esteem and self-worth.
The way to change the dialogue is to end it. Try a “fat talk” diet this summer. Put on your bikini and don’t allow yourself to ask someone how you look.
1. Start by recognizing fat is not a feeling. You may feel angry, sad, happy or other emotions, but fat is not an emotion. When you say you feel fat, stop yourself and try and figure out what you are really feeling.
2. Don’t engage. If your friends are obsessing on their bodies, it’s easy to want to reassure them. However, it may make you feel worse. Simply say to your friends, “I’m trying to not talk about my body weight, and when you talk about yours I feel sucked into talking about my body, too.”
3. Participate in life like you have the perfect body. Read Jessica Weiner’s book Life Doesn’t Start 5 Pounds from Now.” If you want to take up surfing, but don’t want to be seen in a bathing suit, remind yourself that nothing is sexier then engaging in the adventures life has to offer.
4. Picture yourself at 95. If you don’t like what you look like today, ask your 95-year-old self what she would think of your body right now. You’ll never meet a woman in their 90s who says, “Gosh, I’m glad I spent the first 65 years of my life insecure about my body.”
5. Try ending the “fat talk” for one month. If you can’t do the fat talk diet, you may have body dysmorphic disorder. There is research that suggests that people with BDD may actually view their bodies from different parts of their brains.
Finally the next time you ask someone, “Does my butt look big in these jeans?” remember, ladies your butt is behind you. Officially, making it someone else’s problem.