Fat talk…you have probably said it, heard it, and read it!
– “I’m so fat.”
– “Gosh, look at my hips compared to yours.”
– “No, you are not fat. I am!”
The phrase “fat talk” was coined by Nichter and Vukovic. They described “fat talk” as the self-disparaging body talk that occurs in peer
groups and appears to contain an element of social influence. Research has shown that women and men participate in fat talk for numerous reasons including: to feel accepted in a group, reinforce friendship ties through self-disclosure, and/or approval to indulge in a large meal or dessert. I think one of the most interesting ways fat talk is used is to use weight as a reference point for one’s feelings. For example, Gapinski, K., Brownell, K., and LaFrance, M. explained that the statement “I’m fat” can be like saying “I feel depressed” or “I feel out of control.”
I was at one of my clinics the other day and the nurses were talking to me about developing a weight loss program for them at the start of the New Year. Right after I agreed to put on a healthy weight loss program, a few of the nurses started engaging in fat talk. I said if I do this there will be no fat talk! And boy did I get some looks and one “you are tough Brooke!” It made me sweat to say those words, but I couldn’t take it anymore!!! Who does fat talk help? No one! It is time WE come together and actively change the way we talk about our bodies with others. Let’s think of new ways to reinforce our friendships without fat talk.
Do you participate in fat talk? How do you think we can stop this cycle?
Britton, L., Martz, D., Bazzini D., Curtin, L., and LeaShomb, A. (2006). Fat talk and self-presentation of body image: Is there a social norm for women to self-degrade? Body Image, 3, 247-254.
Gapinski, K., Brownell, K., and LaFrance, M. (2003). Body Objectification and “Fat Talk”: Effects on Emotion, Motivation, and Cognitive Performance. Sex Roles, 48, 377-388.
Nichter, M., and Vuckovic, N. (1994). Fat talk: Body image among adolescent girls. In N. Sault (Ed.), Many Mirrors: Body image and social relations (pp. 109-131). New Brumswick, NJ: Ruters Unversity Press.