Without realizing it, kids have negative conversations about their body every day. It can be as innocent as commenting about another person’s appearance by making comparisons about size from one person to another: “If you think you are big…then I am huge”. Why does this conversation matter? The increase in eating disorders and dysmorphic views of self have devastating impact on girls starting in middle school all the way through college.
It all starts with simple, harmless words. A common conversation with girls often includes phrases like, “I look so big in these leggings,” or “that outfit doesn’t look good on you.” The impact is the girl feels like nothing she wears looks good. Those small phrases turn from a bit of self deprivation, or brutal honesty to a mantra that repeats over and over, drowning out all thoughts to the contrary. Her self-esteem starts to crumble and the negative voice inside her head takes up permanent residence. Where do these thoughts truly begin to enter into the conversion of a girl’s head?
It starts with selfies while shopping. If you don’t think your daughter is doing this, guess again. While in the dressing room, a girl will take a photo and send it to a friend or worse in a group text. Comments start pouring in with all kinds of advice and opinions, and if someone is less than positive with their response – well you get the idea. The approval-meter kicks into high gear and if she perceives others view her as “big” or “fat” she, herself, starts to question her appearance.
While most people associated Fat Talk with girls, an increasing number of boys and young men are also engaging in comments about their weight as it relates to their appearance. The conversations, as it turns out, do not correlate to a person’s true size. Instead people of all shapes, sizes and health levels engage in this type of talk.
4 Quick Ways to Stop Fat Talk
- Match a negative thought with a positive one. Every time you catch yourself being critical about your appearance, change it up with a positive like “I am just right the way I am.”
- Stop the comparisons – no two people are the same. Don’t think in your head or make a comment about your size and how you compare to a friend.
- Invite your friends, teammates, coaches and teachers to help change the conversation when Fat Talk happens.
- Change compliments about a friend from “you look so good” to “you showed your strength today when…” or “your dedication to the team or to our group is so inspirational.”
Join the Positive Body Love Movement!
Here are some resources to share with your daughter:
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Special thanks to Northwestern University and the Body Love Movement!