Fat Talk: Social Bonding or Socially Damaging?

Fat Talk.  If you’re a woman, you know what this is.  It happens when you get together with girlfriends.  It’s usually at its worst if you bump into someone on a “bad hair day,” (or what I like to call, more aptly, a “bad body image day”).  The conversation starts innocently enough, with friendly small talk, but inevitably one of you compliments the other on “how great she looks.” Both of you know this has nothing to do with her outfit, but with how slim you perceive the other to be.

Thus begins the volley of self-deprecating remarks.  “Gosh, I feel so fat these days, I don’t know how you manage to stay so slim.” This is met with, “Lord no, you think I look skinny?  I look so gross today, I ate like a pig at lunch.  You’re delusional!” And back and forth, with each defending her position as the fat one, and complimenting the other on how great she looks.

What’s really going on here?  What’s Fat Talk really about?  And do you realize how damaging it can really be?

The Purpose of Fat Talk

There are a few factors at play here, some of which perpetuate the diet mentality and contribute to the maintenance of body image and eating disorders.

1. The social acceptability of Fat Talk.  When ”French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano first came out (this was before I specialized in this area), I remember being very clearly impressed by the author’s statement that in France (and Europe more generally), it’s considered in bad taste to comment on one’s own weight or eating habits.  However, in North America, women regularly engage in Fat Talk as a bonding activity, putting […]

By |April 19th, 2011|Body Image, Dieting|0 Comments

The Straight Facts on Body Image

Although most of us have parts of ourselves that we don’t like (“my nose could be smaller,” “my thighs could be thinner”), for some people, dealing a negative body image is a part of daily life.  The media’s obsession with dieting, and with thin, rich celebrities, certainly contributes to the problem.  However, each of us is ultimately responsible for refusing to participate in this superficial obsession and learning to love ourselves the way we are. Read on to learn more about body image problems and how to overcome them.

What is Body Image?

The scientist in me wants to say that the true definition of body image is the brain’s representation of of the body’s sensory system and internal sense of having a body.  This internal “body image” changes as we grow, especially in childhood and adolescence.  That partly explains why teenagers can be so klutzy and awkward, because their bodies are growing faster than their brains can keep up with.

However, most of us define body image as how we evaluate ourselves. Aside from feeling like we have a body, most of us have an opinion about our bodies.  Those with a healthy body image may have a couple of areas they think need improvement, but generally, they feel good about the way they look and are able to enjoy and appreciate their bodies.  Those who struggle with their weight very often have a negative body image. They feel fat, ugly, and unloveable.  They think others judge them harshly, and they shy away from certain social situations.

In extreme cases, a person’s body image can be so distorted that it can lead to serious problems. Here, the negative self-evaluation reaches painful levels, and […]

By |April 3rd, 2009|Body Image, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments