Be honest: How mean have you been to yourself this week? To other women? To a celebrity who you think gained a little weight? Because when we’re all being 100% truthful, the fact is that most of us engage in more fat-talk about ourself and other women than we’d like to admit. This week, Tri Delta
is instating a moratorium on internal body-snarking, fat-shaming, and other body-negative thoughts. It’s Fat-Talk Free Week
, and we’ve got some tips from the good folks at Eating Recovery Center
on how you can finally quell your inner critic–and start feeling better about yourself.
Started in 2008, Fat-Talk Free Week is an initiative to bring attention to all of the negativity that women feel toward their own bodies, and the very real health and wellness consequences those thoughts can have. Multiple studies have shown that fat-talk and poor body image can lead to depression
and even a greater risk of obesity
. But how do you break the cycle and end the fat-talk, when the message that thin is the same as healthy, beautiful, and successful are all around?
The truth is, while obesity is a serious public health crisis in our country, eating disorders are also a deadly plague on both women or men. But the solution to both of these lethal problems isn’t demonizing overweight or obese people, nor is it internalizing the latent fat-shaming that occurs both in the media and society. It’s adopting a more positive approach to our bodies–and, as a result, learning to take care of them.
Wanting to get in shape, be stronger, and eat better is not the same as harboring toxic, negative thoughts about your own body and its appearance. Eliminating fat-talk, then, is a great way to not only take a step toward fighting obesity and eating disorders–as well as to feel better about yourself, and further the conversation about the human body, health, self-esteem, and mental wellness.
This week, take the Fat-Talk Free Challenge. Not sure you can do it? The folks from Eating Recovery Center, an international center which provides comprehensive treatment for eating disorders, has compiled a list of ways to end negative thoughts about yourself (and others), while helping to cultivate a health-centered rhetoric about weight, food, and body-image. Here’s what they have to say:
Focus on what your body can do for you, rather than what it looks like
The human body is an amazing machine–just imagine a robot that could do all the things a body can do, and how difficult it would be to create. And yet, most of us look past the fact that it can move in about a million awesome ways, and, instead, focus on tiny things about it that we view as imperfect. Rather than dwelling on your appearance and all the things about your body that make you feel badly about yourself, make a list of the reasons your body rocks. You may be surprised by all the cool things it can do.
Banish self-destructive behaviors
Smoking, drinking to excess, eating unhealthy foods, crash dieting, and even critical self-talk are all ways that we punish the bodies we view as imperfect. But, as we’ve established, your body is really cool–and it deserves the highest level of care. Instead of doing things that are bad for your body, treat yourself to something that’s good for it, like a yoga class or a massage. Then, say some kind words about it. When you treat your body with respect, it’s a lot easier to feel proud of it.
Be aware of the comments you make about others
“You look so thin!” may seem like the perfect compliment for all women, but it’s really not–because it sets up fatness as the opposite of a good thing. Instead of making comments to or about others regarding weight (and yes, that includes bashing celebs and even pundits
for their weight fluctuations), think about what message you’re putting out there.
The same goes for words and phrases which, while they may seem funny, are actually very derogatory. “Thunder thighs,” “bat wings,” and even “love handles” are mean ways to point out supposed imperfections in others–and they add to the problem. You may not use them about your own body, but using them at all still underscores the current of fat-shaming and negative thoughts that plague the national conversation.
Compliment yourself–more than once
Saying kind words about your own appearance or self is often seen as braggy, but no one’s asking you to Tweet about how strong you are or how thick and lovely your hair is this morning. Instead, silently find something kind to say about yourself. As Eating Recovery Center told us, “instilling a positive body image starts with the messages you develop about yourself. Make a practice out of complimenting yourself several times a day.”
Be a critical consumer of media
You know, deep down, that every single image you see has been altered to make it fit the cultural standard of perfection–and yet, it can be so hard to remind yourself of that when you start to get into “I hate my thighs” mode. Bookmark this article
, which features an interview from a photo editor, in which every way that models and other celebs are made to look perfect is laid out clearly. It’s a good reminder that what you see is definitely not what you get–and that holding yourself up to that same standard is impossible.
Then, seek out positive media sources (ahem, like this website) and images, which can help ground you back into reality. When the negative thoughts start to take over, just remember: It’s not real. No one is perfect. You are amazing. Because you are!