This Week, Ban the 'Fat Talk'

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Think back to the last time someone paid you a compliment.

How did you respond?

"Thanks, but I've still got a long way to go."

"Thanks, but my butt is gigantic."


When you look in the mirror, do you zero in on the flaw or focus on the positives?

Do you lament your hips or admire your strong legs?

Do you curse your flat chest or notice your slim wrists?

Do you fret over a few fine lines or appreciate your bright smile?

Most of us have trouble accepting compliments and silencing the nagging voices inside our heads. How often do you respond with a self-deprecating or humble comment when someone says something flattering to you?

While those comments might seem innocuous, they're not. (Keep reading for some ALARMING statistics!) I'm guilty of it, and just about everyone I know is, too, from time to time.

And this week, we're all going to do something about it.

Today marks the beginning of Fat Talk Free Week, an international, five-day body activism campaign that draws attention to body image issues and the damaging impact of the thin ideal on women in society. This annual public awareness campaign is organized by Delta Delta Delta fraternity. I read about this motivating effort on a few healthy living blogs, and I knew I wanted to share this challenge with you.

Tri Delta shares these stats:

81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. 51% of 9 and 10 year old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.
(Mellin LM, Irwin CE & Scully S, 1992)

Barbie, the best-selling fashion doll in the world, has unattainable and unhealthy body proportions. If she were alive, her waist would be smaller than patients with anorexia nervosa, and she would be unable to menstruate. Research has shown that very young girls (ages 5-7) who are exposed to Barbie have lower body esteem and want a thinner body than they have.
(Dittmar, Halliwell, & Ive, 2006)

More than 2/3 of women ages 18-25 would rather be mean or stupid than be fat and over 50% would rather be hit by a truck.
(Martin, 2007)

1 in 4 women have avoided engaging in a physical activity or sport because they feel badly about the way they look.
(Dove, Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs)

So what can we do about all this Fat Talk?

Tri Delta offers five ways to cut the Fat Talk.
  1. Choose one friend or family member and discuss one thing you each like about yourself.
  2. Keep a journal of all the good things your body allows you to do (e.g., sleep well and wake up rested, play tennis, etc.).
  3. Pick one friend to make a pact with to avoid Fat Talk. When you catch your friend talking negatively about her (or his) body, remind her of the pact.
  4. Make a pledge to end complaints about your body, such as "I'm so flat-chested" or "I hate my legs." When you catch yourself doing this, make a correction by saying something positive about that body part, such as, "I'm so glad my legs got me through soccer practice today."
  5. The next time someone gives you a compliment, rather than objecting ("No, I'm so fat"), practice taking a deep breath and saying "thank you."
Today, I signed the promise form. No more fat talk for me! I urge you to do the same.

In addition, I challenge you to "pay it forward" and post a note for Operation Beautiful, a wonderful motivational website started by blogger Caitlin Boyle. (Read her interview with the dailySpark.) She lives random messages of kindness and positive self-image in public places, then photographs them and posts them on her website--and encourages others to post messages and email them to her. (She recently got a book deal, too!)

Are you guilty of "Fat Talk"? Will you participate in Fat Talk Free Week? Will you post an Operation Beautiful note?

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SparkPeople ought to share Tri Delta's Fat Talk Week every year - I went back looking for current promotions and mostly only found 2012 2013 2014 and it's 2017 - so maybe a blog this fall??

I believe most of us need to practice accepting compliments gracefully and graciously regardless of whether they relate to our physical appearance or some other aspect of our lives. Practice makes it easier and enjoyable to do so.

I LOVE the idea of Operation Beautiful! Report
Having worked as a fitness coach, the ladies would comment about their bodies constantly. I encouraged positive talk only, and would say "please don't talk about my friend that way". It was a great reminder that they would not say that about another person. When the negative statements about self goes out, the negative thoughts still stay with you. It also makes the other person feel awkward after they give a compliment. So...I am so in on "ban fat talk" for life! Report
What a great reminder! Report
I Love this Blog This is something that would really make people feel really good about themselves. As long as we have positive Blogs like this I know that we can stop the negative thinking about ourselves I am Beautiful. Report
I love this idea. I am my own worst enemy and have been my whole life. It is time to change that starting right now. I will learn to say "thank you" instead of "but...", I will stop beating myself up and take action helping myself remember I am beautiful no matter what size I am. This will help me reach my goals and stop falling off the wagon if I am able to make a conscious effort to love myself. Thank you for "paying it forward". I will do the same. Report
I have never liked my body...but I'm working on changing that!

Count me in! Report
I think this is one of the best things I have read and I think everyone is good and has a beatiful person if they just let them shine!!!! Report
Love this blog! Great idea. Count me in! Report
Love this way of thinking. I am on board with it! Report
I personally love my body and did when I was heavier, although I do enjoy having nice weigh ins and striving to be fit and look good in jeans. :)

It is just part of life that people say positive and negative things to one depending on probably how they feel at the time. No one should internalize either positive or negative things others say about them, although of course positive things are nicer to hear.

When I was 10 pounds heavier than I am now and felt quite fit, a lady told me I had "big legs" lol ... what's up with that. I told her I thought I had great legs. I did not mention that she outweighed me somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 pounds and that her legs were quite flabby, in my opinion. I knew that my opinion didn't count and that only her opinion of herself was relevant to herself and that her opinion of my legs, good or bad, had nothing to do with me at all.

I find the banish fat thought week idea negative, actually. It is just another thing that people struggling for identity ... and that's everyone, heavy or slender ... is supposed to feel guilty about and worry about.

Everyone needs to lighten up and not worry so much about the other person's opinion.

But definitely it is good to find one's own beauty and celebrate it. Report
I am guilty of not engaging in physical activities or sports- in front of other people- because I am embarrassed about my weight. (I feel very saddened by the statistic about girls who would rather be mean, stupid, or hit by a truck!!!- instead of being fat! It's probably those same girls who laugh at me when I'm out in public, not knowing how hard I try to lose this weight and how hard I diet and exercise, not knowing how much *I* hate being this way!) Report
Oh my gosh , am I guilty of this ? Oh yeah.. all my life. I never believed people really meant what they said , they were just being kind. I've been told many times to just accept the compliment graciously, that people wouldn't say something NICE if they didn't mean it. Something I really have to work on and will try to do this . Thanks for the encouragement.! Report
Lots of people have derogatory names on here. Why not use something about who they are and not a physical description? Report
This reminded me of why I need to think positively and not focus on negative things. Thanks. Report
I think everyone has these thoughts every now and then. I know I do, but then tell myself that it's superficial and to look at how far I have come and what is on my inside self. Report
This is so true. I myself do the fat talk. I well work on it. I need to be proud of who I am. Not that I am big or small. But, who I am. Report
What a great idea. I know I am guilty of this. Report
I have a beautiful smile and my smile makes others smile! Report
OMG! i am soo happy this is on here. I am a member of tri delta at the university of central florida and we are doing this as a sisterhood this week. it really helps so much, especially with girls in college :)
i hope the idea spreads and gains attention and it makes me so excited to see it on here! Report
LIMONADE34, It's a fraternity for women. / It's official name uses "fraternity" not "sorority." Report
As someone I know once said: If I could only be the weight I was in my 20s when I moaned and groaned that I was fat!

pesha Report
This was very enlightening! When I was thin... I thought I was fat! It's hard not to participate in "Fat Talk" but I will really work at it from now on. "I AM beautiful!" "I love who I am." "Thank you, you are so sweet!" Report
This was a great message- I am totally guilty of many of the details mentioned! Having recently lost weight, I find myself hating compliments- mostly because I feel like it is a reminder that I used to be overweight! I need to turn this around and be proud- Fat Talk is stopping now! Report
This is a really great idea!

Also, Tri Delta is a sorority, not a fraternity Report
WOW! Hopefully I can stick to it...... Report
Wow! What an awesome idea! I remember being corrected as a teenager when my father's friend complimented me. I was told that a young lady would graciously say thankyou. I never thought about applying that to compliments about looking healthier and thinner. Thanks for the blog. Report
I'm sure that all of us who have struggled with our weight for years have been guilty of "fat talk"; I sure have been. Somewhere I read "If you wouldn't say it to your friend, don't say it to yourself." I try to remind myself of that when I catch myself. Report
I use to be guilty of most of this article. Just yesterday I had a Co-Worker ask if I had lost some weight and I happily replied yes, Thank You! It felt great just focusing on the positves that SparksPeople has helped me focus on and letting go of the past issues. To me this journey in my life this time, is about being healthy not about being thin. Report
I try to be positive as much as I can. Sometimes I don't succeed but I bounce back and start all over. Report
How true.. I am going to stop the fat talk myself !! Report
This is a great idea! I have been working on banning "fat talk" myself, ever since my two daughters got old enough to understand what I was saying. I'm trying hard to instill "healthy habits" in both of them, and constantly talking about being fat and being on a diet just doesn't seem like what I want them to grow up hearing. Report
I do medical transcription for a living. You can be skinny and sick, you can be fat and sick, and vice versa. Health is more than a number on the scale. And I do not believe in negative talk. Only Love Creates. Report
I have been trying to lose the fat talk for years! I loved reading everyones comments and especially liked the idea behind "operation beautiful". Post its are a great way to stay motivated and positive. Report
Age - at least for me - has really helped me to de-emphasize my (many) faults and accept compliments a little more graciously. Why or how that happens, I don't know. But I also know that I smile more now than I did when I was younger! Oh, life's mysteries! Report
We are what we think. Our thoughts influence our actions.

I believe keeping my thoughts positive will have a positive effect on my life, which will have a positive effect in my relationship with others creating a chain reaction. With time enough positive links in the chain will create a positive change in the world. Report
I think this a great article! Just today I was saying to myself that I was fat. I need to think positively, and think of all the wonderful things I do! Report
I'm a bit of a crank on this. I think we should ban ALL talk about body size - positive and negative.

It's been exceedingly irritating to me to have all of my incredible accomplishments over the past year (promotion at work, published my first academic paper, ran my first half marathon (in under 2 hours), emptied my nest and had my house featured in a local decor magazine - an AMAZING year!) ignored because the ONLY thing anyone is interested in discussing is my weight.

I am much more than the size of my butt - big or small. Report
Interesting article. It definitely puts a different perspective on things. How can we truly succeed and be happy if we continue to put ourselves down? I definitely am going to end the fat talk! Report
Now, it's interesting that I read this particular blog today. I just came back from an errand at my local Walgreens. While I was there, I noticed they were selling baby jumpers with sayings on them. They had sayings like mom's favorite, dad's favorite, etc...

Well, it's not a wonder people (women) think they are fat. Here's what one jumper said on the front. I quote,"Does this diaper make my butt look big ?"

I'm sure someone thought it was a "cute" idea and any other day, I would have thought it funny, but not today. Today, I think that sort of saying re-inforces the notion that "looks" are more important than substance.
you ladies need to learn from us guys on this matter. i've never asked my wife if my suit makes me look fat or asked any of the guys at work if my butt was to big. hips not an issue Report
I am so guilty of trash talking myself into the negative oblivion! BAD! I get compliments all the time about how good I look and I always retaliate with, nah, I'm still fat and I still have hips and thighs that are still not to my satisfactory standards. Gotta stop that! Report
I'm not as bad as some people, but I am guilty. I was at a wedding on Friday and my aunt told me I looked tall and slender, and I retorted with, "I feel like a fat cow", to which she said, "well, you're thinner than me, so thanks a lot!". I still feel bad for saying that when I'm usually pretty graceful with compliments, but I was really feeling down on myself after seeing the beautiful bridesmaids and bride. I definitely need to banish the fat talk because my boyfriend is always giving me compliments and I usually just screw up my face at him or tell him how fat I feel and say how I can't believe he thinks I'm sexy, etc. I have realized that when people say that stuff about themselves, other people see them that way, and when someone of the same size has confidence, dresses well, and doesn't talk negatively about themselves, they seem to others as strong and beautiful, so from now on I'm done with the fat talk! Report
Wow, I am such a negative fat talker. I am taking the pledge to not to do this to myself anymore. I know that my weight loss progress is evident to others, but I also know that I have ALOT more to loose and tone up before I feel confident naked. This past weekend, my sister complimented me, and I heard myself respond with uugh, I hate my big butt! Why didn't I just smile and say thank you? Report
Yeah for this! Thank you Tri-Delts! Because we all engage in "fat talk" so readily and easily, it's hard sometimes to say positive things-to others and mainly to ourselves, but it is so worth the effort... Report
I totally did this last night! My fiancee complimented me on something and I said "thanks, but...". And I saw the disappointed look on his face. That look that says "why can't she believe what I see is true?" I stopped. I remembered this blog, I took a deep breath and said "thank you" and I smiled. And that look on his face went away. That was a nice feeling. Report
thia is sooo great. thanks .. my hubby tell me all the time that i am pretty.. I am the one that say ya right.. He tries to make me feel good.. But that has to come from the inside.. I am working on .. i have a 13 year old that is alwasy worrying about being fat.. i hate it she is just to young.. for all of that.. So for that week i will be good to my self.. i am my worst on me.. Report
One thing to think about when someone gives you a compliment: if you deny it or minimize it you are insulting that person's taste. It can be hard to do but the best thing to do is to say Thanks.

Also, I am an NLP practitioner and in NLP we learn that the unconscious mind believes what we tell it and believes that is what we want. So if we tell ourselves we are fat or weak or sick, the unconscious will try to keep us that way. It believes we own what we say we are so you shouldn't say *my* illness, you should say *the* illness. The unconscious does not like change because it doesn't know if it is safe and its purpose is to keep us safe.

Also, it doesn't recognize negatives so if you are doing affirmations you should not use words like not. If you say I am not fat, it hears I am fat. You should always give affirmations in the positive like I have a strong, healthy body. Report
I am totally guilty of fat talk. I know I'm not fat and yet there are times when I think I still am fat even though I've lost the weight. Some days are better than others. But, every now and then, when the self esteem is in free fall, the fat talk creeps into my head.

When a person has been overweight most of their life, it's tough to get rid of those negative thoughts. Now, I do believe in accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative. Having a "glass half full" mentality has definitely helped reduce the fat talk.

The problem ? I don't think anyone can really eliminate all the fat talk. Once again, it's a question of self esteem. If something happens to put a dent in that self esteem, we may lapse back into fat talk.

My hope is to reduce the fat talk as much as possible. I've got a long way to go, but I'm getting better. So, I will participate in ban the fat talk week !

I'm in !

I signed the promise form last night when a teammate posted about it. I blogged about it too. I also sent it to friends and family asking them to join me.

The emphasis should be on health and healthy habits, not a fashionable ideal. Others commenting here are asking about the first step to changing is admitting flaws. Well the flaws should be in behavior, not a distorted perception of one's appearance. Especially when an 11-year old girl thinks she's fat when her body starts filling out because of her developmental changes coming on. What the 11-year old should be concerned about is not being able to run around the block and keep up with her schoolmates, not her size! (Yes, I was that 11- year old girl.) Report
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