Fat Talk

Reblogged from my fitness-related blog to reach a wider audience here:

If your Facebook friends are like mine, your feed probably fills up with posts from Upworthy, whose goal it is to post meaningful content into social media. I generally like their offerings, but this one about women got my attention.

It’s probably worth a view, but here’s the short version:

A store is set up to sell clothes, and women are invited to check out the wares. There are signs around the store and tags on the clothes which reprint some of the terrible comments these women have made about themselves, stuff like “I look good from the neck up, #cow” and “you’ll look like a whale in this.” Some of the women appear offended for a moment, but then they realize, “OMG those are things I’ve said about myself!” Everyone talks about how they should think better of themselves, and they all grow as a result of the experience. Down with fat talk!

That’s all well and good. I know this video speaks to an all-too-common experience for many women.

What concerns me is that “fat talk” is pretty much acceptable anywhere in our society – so long as you’re not an average healthy woman making fun of yourself. When the target of the fat talk is an actual overweight person, then it’s open season. There are chuckles, smirks, judging glances, open stares. Some people at least have the decency to cover their mouths and whisper to their neighbor, as if covering a cough or disguising something unpleasant. But the laughter that follows is telling. It’s not unpleasant at all, it’s quite fun for all involved.

Except for the woman or man being made fun of.

“You wouldn’t say this to someone else,” the video declares. But the problem is, many people will say these things about someone else, just not to their faces. I’m not sure how that’s better.

But who cares about the overweight person, right? I mean, they’re already a lost cause. Let’s worry about the healthy women who have self-esteem issues, and let’s get them to stop saying bad things about themselves. Or so goes the implied logic.

I disagree. If shaming oneself is a terrible thing – and I think it is – then tell me: How can it be acceptable to heap shame on someone else?

Yes, let’s end “fat talk.” Let’s start by putting an end to finger-pointing, judgmental giggles, and disdainful looks.

That’s a worthy effort, to this reader.

What do you think? Is our self-inflicted “fat talk” a problem as described in the video? What about when it’s directed at others? Could this be, as my wife believes, a good first step in getting away from shaming others? Let me know how you feel in a comment. And if you agree, share this message with that video.

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