Hold the Fat Talk.

“I’m so fat”; “I think I just gained like 5 pounds.”  “There’s no way I can eat that without getting fat!”, “I know I look so fat and disgusting wearing this!”

Fat comments.  Seething through the lips of many as casually as talk about the weather and who won the latest football game.  It’s become an innate part of our culture, but what does this reflect about the nature of us as human beings?  What is this causing us to evolve into?

Though “Fat Talk” is seemingly harmless to many, the damage done goes far deeper than our awareness allows us to realize.  After all, when was the last time you attended a family function or gathering without expecting someone to mention something about your weight or appearance?  Unfortunately, this has found a normal place in our everyday lives.  Diets, fads, diet foods, body bashing, self-doubt, lack of self-esteem…no wonder many experience self-rejection with such a critical evaluation of what is beautiful and lovely.

Our body is meant to function as a magnificent whole, and not to be limited to evaluation by visual appearance.  Does it really make sense to dismember the parts of our bodies and thus demean their capabilities?  We are more than just our hips, bellies or legs. We are complex and wondrously created human beings with vulnerabilities that are shattered in the crushing blows of fat talk.  Think of your body as being in a relationship with someone you deeply care about.  Would you ever say such cruelties to a loved one about their appearance as you may have said about yourself?  Of course not!  How much are you deserving of the love and respect that you offer others you care about?

Coincidentally, this week happens to be the Fat Talk Free Week, a national 7-day public awareness effort to draw attention to body image issues and shift our focus from size to health.  Fat talk is categorized as any statements made in everyday conversation that emphasize unrealistic beauty ideals and influence men and women’s body dissatisfaction.

Now is a great opportunity to end the destructive cycle of “fat talk”, to extinguish the fire that ignites negative body image and damages self-confidence.  Bringing awareness to this very important topic can begin with us.  It is crucial to look within first, to dig deeper and seek to understand what causes us to engage in these types of harmful discussions.  Do self-depreciating comments reveal an entrenched belief you might have about yourself, such as not being sufficient or good enough?  Often times, beliefs such as these can fester through negative “fat talk”.  Maybe there are certain triggers that bring out your inner critic, such as disapproval from a friend or family member or something you see in the media.  Understanding these triggers, that lead to self deprecating thoughts or speech, can help you work through the underlying issues and assist you in appreciating and honoring your body.

Cultivating a healthy and positive body image can begin here…with what you say to, and about, yourself and to others.  If you have suffered with negative body image, self-hatred, or low self-esteem, it may seem daunting to change this or even impossible to feel good about yourself.  Change is always difficult, but even the smallest steps towards improvement can lead to freedom from this bondage.  Every day, you have the opportunity to start anew…to choose to find hope and live fruitfully, because you are beautiful, you are lovable, and you are worthy.

Stacy London, TV Host, Author, and Stylist may state this best in her advice to:

“…Notice, don’t judge.  Noticing is just seeing what’s there.  Our judgment of it is what blinds us.  The thick waist, big hips, small shoulders, anything is not a flaw.  It just is.  No matter how much you subjectively love or hate your shape, it’s still the same body you’re going to wake up with each morning.  Stop exhausting yourself hoping, wishing, praying to be someone different, and take pleasure in knowing that you are who you are, in all your fabulous uniqueness…Go about the business of working with that real body to create a style you love and can love your shape in.”

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. This passion resulted from her battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As president, Jacquelyn manages Ekern Enterprises, Inc. and the Eating Disorder Hope website.