‘Fat talk’ is common but is it harmful?



Chained (Photo credit: Christi Nielsen)

The article I included below claims that ‘fat talk’ is very common and very harmful among women. I can accept that it’s as common as they claim, but I think its very commonness calls its harmfulness into question. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb in thinking that most, if not all, people through most, if not all, of history have had chinks in their self-esteem. Women have always tried to be attractive by whatever standards they held, and it follows that they had things about themselves that they’d change if they could. Do we think that all those generations of women (and men, poor things, who get to have poor self-esteem without any sympathy) were terribly harmed by having imperfect self-esteem? We all have some things we’d change about ourselves, physical or not, or we should. We shouldn’t hate ourselves for our shortcomings, nor should we hold ourselves to an unreasonable standard, but does that mean that we harm ourselves in acknowledging those shortcomings to ourselves or our friends, even if we exaggerate? Yes, it may hurt my self esteem to admit that I’m not as thin as I used to be, but it’s a true assessment of my size and health, not a false one warped by magazines and movies. I am, in fact, not as thin as I used to be. And I would, in fact, like to be that thin again. And if I fall short of that goal, I won’t hate myself for it. The ‘fat talk’ may damage our self esteem, but does it follow that it’s harmful to ourselves? Is unreasonably high self esteem that comes from not even seeing my flaws better than somewhat lower self esteem that’s in line with reality? Isn’t acknowledging our faults part of accepting ourselves? Expecting me to think that I’m perfect just the way I am is just as unrealistic as expecting me to be a size 0 when I’ve had four children and am pregnant again. And while it might feel great if I actually thought of myself that way, it would also make me insufferably smug and rob me of any opportunity to improve. I don’t deny the harm that can come from a bad body image because we hold an unattainable ideal, but that harm threatens everyone who doesn’t meet the ideal, whether they’re too fat or too thin, and it is in the thought, in the feelings it induces, in the unattainable nature of the goal, not in the bantering talk with friends about being ‘fat’ that is a symptom, not a problem. So what’s so bad about fat talk?

My butt is so huge! ‘Fat talk’ is common and harmful – TODAY.com.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. yanniesaurus
    May 31, 2013 @ 02:04:44

    Fat talk is a necessary evil. Sure, the person in question are still beautiful and amazing – but they are fat. And fat is and never will be a good health choice. It sucks, but it is true.

    There is fat talk -.. and there is fat shaming.


    • Nicole
      May 31, 2013 @ 17:28:12

      The article points out that the people engaging in fat talk aren’t always fat. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they aren’t. Certainly in the case of someone who is overweight, seeing that she is overweight is necessary to losing the weight and regaining health. I’m not sure there’s any health benefit to it when a person is already a healthy weight, except maybe to keep her mindful so she doesn’t become overweight. Either way, I just don’t see how the banter ruins self-esteem or how slightly worse self-esteem is actually so horrible.


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