I like Royal weddings. I grew up in a former British colony and I have vivid memories of creating scrapbooks of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana’s wedding with my mother and grandmother. This time around, I still appreciated the pomp and circumstance that is present at this kind of occasion.
After the event, I was musing about Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson and our newest royal, Catherine, and I realized something quite disturbing. All three of these women have been hounded by the press about their body weight. Too fat, too thin, on a diet, off a diet. Sigh. Kate had endless headlines written about her body as if that is all that is of interest about her. Princess Diana stepped into the limelight in 1981 and thirty years later, the headlines about the new royal are the same. I know it is this way with so many celebrities but the pervasiveness of this criticism in our culture does not make it one iota more appropriate.
The term that is often used to describe this kind of body criticism is “fat talk”. Many of us talk this way every day. See if you recognize these examples: “I ate way too much. No dinner for me” or “She’s lost weight. I wonder how she did it” or “He’s gained weight. He looks awful” or “I’d do anything to have thinner thighs”. You can even engage in fat talk without saying a word – you might sigh as you look at yourself in the mirror or roll your eyes at a friend when an overweight woman in a swimsuit walks by.
You may be wondering why this fat talk business is a big deal. You might comment that it is the way you connect with your mom or your daughter or your close friends. It’s what you and your co workers talk about over lunch.
Well, I encourage you to take the NO FAT TALK challenge for just one week and here’s why:
- Being critical of yourself or others is not going to inspire positive change
- Fat talk encourages us to focus on a person’s appearance, rather than their internal attributes
- Fat talk depletes our self confidence and the self esteem of others
- Fat talk teaches our kids to think negatively about their bodies
- Fat talk is a waste of energy that could be used in so many wonderfully creative ways
So see if for the next week you can avoid media that is involved in fat talk. Let your friends and coworkers know that you will kindly change the subject if weight/diets/unhealthy body image is being discussed. Let your kids hear you say positive things about your body, for example “I am so happy to have strong legs. That’s why I have been able to play baseball with you all afternoon”. Compliment friends on attributes that actually matter – do you feel heard when you are with them? Perhaps you really appreciate how much your mom makes you laugh.
It’s just a one week experiment. I am doing it too. So give it a try, post a comment and let me know how it goes.