By Virginia Duffy
In case you missed the half-naked bodies hanging on posters on the third floor of Smith, or just looked at them quizzically without investigating further, I will fill you in on what they were about. The posters were part of a nation-wide campaign to end “fat talk.” The Bentley chapter of the movement is being facilitated by Develop U Peer Educators, the Counseling Center, the Center for Health and Wellness and HerCampus. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about what “fat talk” is, outline the dangers of such behavior and to propose solutions to the self-detrimental and critical language.
So what exactly is “fat talk?” For those of you who saw the flyers around campus, you might say that they are bit overdramatic as they display scenarios that we find common and harmless (there are probably some still hanging around if you want to check it out). Those in support of the movement might disagree, claiming that any talk that refers to the appearance of others or yourself is dubbed “fat talk” and leads to unnecessary and unhealthy criticism on the basis of unimportant measurements of beauty. The founders of the campaign, the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity, define fat talk as “any statement that reinforces the thin-ideal standard of beauty and contributes to women and men’s dissatisfaction with their bodies.”
Some examples of fat talk include “you look great – have you lost weight?” or “I’ve gotta hit the protein shakes – we need to get ready for Spring Break!” Some of us, especially as socially conscientious and appearance concerned young adults, find the idea that such phrases are negative to be a little absurd. In fact, many of us find ourselves using such language on a daily basis, especially with summer and bathing suit season just around the corner.
So what is the problem with “fat talk,” no matter how innocent our intentions may be as we comment on how good one of our friends looks? Well the premise behind the movement “is to make everything not so focused on body image” says Bentley peer educator, Brian. Rather, we should be concerned with “just enjoying life.” A very noble idea, but unfortunately it is forced to contest with a school and more generally a society that places too much importance on appearance, overlooking the less vain aspects of life. It is hard to change the culture of a world plagued by photoshopped advertisements of unhealthy models whose career centers around what they look like in a mirror but this is not deterring those in support of the movement.
If you were unable to grab some of the literature (or candy) from the display the past few days, I will list a few tips suggested to put an end to “fat talk” and perhaps curb your self-criticism.
√ Spend time with friends who feel good about their bodies
√ Avoid media that includes fat-talk or pictures of the thin or lean ideals
√ Use mindfulness exercises like listening to your heartbeat to reduce stress and boost self-esteem
√ Pledge to stop fat talk for yourself and others!
These tips are aimed to “promote healthy living” as suggested by peer educator, Dawn. They are designed to place less emphasis on what someone looks like and more emphasis on how they feel. Some opponents may argue that the program perhaps endorses obesity but that is not the intention. Rather, putting an end to “fat talk” will replace importance on holistic and positive lifestyles. If you did not get a chance to sign the pledge, just visit www.bi3d.tridelta.org/ourinitiatives/fattalkfreeweek to sign up and learn more about the nationwide campaign.