Females and “fat talk”


By Melissa Martin



How often have you talked about dissatisfaction with your body to female friends? How often do you compare your body with TV models and celebrities? What self-disparaging things do you say about your body or the bodies of other females?

“Women have unintentionally become their own worst enemies through their engagement in “fat talk”—critical dialogue about one’s own physical appearance, and “body snarking” or criticism towards other women’s bodies.” A 2019 book called “Fat Talk” by Denise Martz, Ph.D. focuses on conversations of women and girls about weight, size, shape, and appearance.

With the upcoming holidays, many women will start to worry about eating, overeating, and gaining weight. They will obsess over holiday food and fear of fat. Rumination about calories will gain a stronghold. They may diet before the holidays, binge during the holidays, then diet after the holidays. Shame, guilt, and anxiety will visit—and dampen holiday cheer.

Some families engage in family fat talk and fat-shame others. Families infuse beliefs, values, morals, attitudes, and behaviors in their children. Do you discriminate against overweight people in front of family members?

Fear of Fat

“Eating healthy fat is necessary for production of estrogen, which is responsible for fertility, brain development, organ sustainability and maintaining healthy bones. Simple. So, not eating any fat or severely restricting is not reasonable or healthy and not effective as a long-term weight loss measure,” reported a 2013 article in Psychology Today. And fat helps us to absorb important vitamins. Fat keeps you satiated since it digests more slowly.

It’s time to let go of our unhealthy fear of dietary fat. America is a culture with fat-phobia which creates size and weight prejudice. Stop making dietary fat out to be the villain. Stop the weight hate. End America’s obsession with low-fat diets.

How can Females Stop Fat Talk?

The “Fat Talk Free Week” international eating disorder prevention campaign pointed out that fat talk is a key contributor to body dissatisfaction. And research shows that engaging in fat talk may contribute to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18175234.

The pledge that participants are encouraged to take states: “Today I promise to end Fat Talk in conversations with my friends, my family and myself. Starting now, I will strive not for a thin-ideal but for a healthy ideal, which I know looks different for every person, and focuses on health not weight or size. I will celebrate the things about myself and the people in my life that have nothing to do with how we look.”

Martz slogan for teen girls is “Friends don’t let friends talk fat!” The first step is to be aware of fat talk. The next step is to change fat talk conversations and educate your friends and family about fat talk.

“I look sooo fat.” Sitting around and whining about your weight while engaging in fat talk is not helpful and can be harmful to body image and self-image. “These jeans make me feel sooo fat.” Stop hating on fat. And stop the fat talk.

By Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County.

She can be reached at melissamartincounselor@live.com

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County.

She can be reached at melissamartincounselor@live.com