Spend more than a half hour in the mall and you'll hear it. Almost always in the dressing rooms. Many women, especially younger women, beating themselves up verbally. Lamenting to one another that they're "fat." Even if they're far from it. It's an epidemic, and now a recent study from Northwestern University says that 93 percent of women 18 to 23 years old engage in "fat talk" with other women. I know women of all ages do it, too ... mothers and daughters, sisters and friends.
We'll argue that it's okay, it's just "venting," it's a way of bonding with a BFF, "whatever." But the research shows the more "fat talk" we engage in, the more we hate our bodies. Doesn't surprise me. Think about it -- if you're constantly hearing (even if it's from your own lips) negative things about your appearance, you're going to start to believe it. It's negative reinforcement.
We don't need scientists to tell us why we do it. We're usually hoping our friend will say, "No, no, of COURSE you're not fat!" We want that reassurance about our appearance, because it feels comforting. But just because we hear it doesn't mean we believe it. It's like a quick hug or peck on the cheek -- we enjoy it for a nanosecond before going on to the next thing ... which is usually more self-hatin'.
Now, there are many things that drive me up a wall, but hearing women being disparaging about themselves is at the top of my list of pet peeves. It's just not cool. It's not productive, it's not healthy. It's totally detrimental.
Even if you could actually stand to lose a few pounds, calling yourself "fat" and talking sh** to yourself is not going to tip the scale. In fact, I've heard from life coaches and doctors and psychologists alike that self-compassion will encourage weight-loss, while loathing on yourself will continue to make you feel stuck, unworthy, etc. Obviously, when you feel that way, you're not going to be motivated to take better care of yourself. To treat yourself to a yoga session or choose a healthier snack.
But it seems like more and more, women who aren't anywhere close to overweight are giving themselves such a hard time. Pinching nonexistent "belly fat," lamenting that they haven't "worked out hard enough." Where the hell is this mentality originating? You can blame the media, supermodels, reality TV, whatever, but I really do feel like it's a disease we're passing around to one another. And we need a cure ... STAT. Because no matter what size or shape we are, there are much better ways to lean on our girlfriends and lift ourselves up than busting on our beautiful bodies.
Do you engage in "fat talk"?
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