Recently I attended a baby shower for a friend that I had not seen in many months; as soon as I caught a glimpse of her, I was amazed at how happy she looked. It wasn’t just the “pregnancy glow,” but genuine joy that was evident in her smile and demeanor. We hugged; I told her congratulations and that I was thrilled for her. The first words out of her mouth were “you look great! I feel so fat and huge compared to you.”
I tried to hide any sadness in my face, but the truth was that my heart sank. At a time when my friend was eight months pregnant and about to embark on an exciting new chapter in her life, she couldn’t help but compare her body to mine. Although I had a great time at the baby shower, those words haunted me for the rest of the day.
Lo and behold, a few days later a link appeared in my Facebook feed for Fat Talk Free Week (October 16-22, 2011) and I immediately clicked onto the website for details:
“Fat Talk describes all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin-ideal standard of female beauty and contribute to women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies. Examples of fat talk may include: ‘I’m so fat,’ ‘Do I look fat in this?’ ‘I need to lose 10 pounds’ and ‘She’s too fat to be wearing that swimsuit’ Statements that are considered fat talk don’t necessarily have to be negative; they can seem positive yet also reinforce the need to be thin – ‘You look great! Have you lost weight?’” (Source: endfattalk.org)
Whether we realize it or not, fat talk is part of many of our everyday conversations. Although I try to maintain a positive attitude about my own body, I too have these critical thoughts towards myself and others. After learning about Fat Talk Free Week, I am making a concerted effort to shift the focus away from body dissatisfaction or reinforcements of thin ideals. While the Week is a great way to spread the message to others and create awareness, you don’t have to wait until October 16th to begin the stop of fat talk nor does it need to end on the 22nd.
The next time that I see my friend, her baby will have been born. When I see her, I will hug her and tell her that she is beautiful, inside and out.
For more information, visit http://www.endfattalk.org or on Facebook at Fat Talk Free Week.