Today kicks off Fat Talk Free Week, a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of “fat talk” among women and its effect on body image.
“Fat Talk” is commonly used every day and includes statements that support the idea that thin is beautiful idea and lead women to feel insecure with their bodies. Low self-esteem, which can be caused by fat talk, is a major problem among women in the U.S. with 10 million women suffering from eating disorders.
The campaign beginning this week stems from Reflections: Body Image Program, started by the women of Delta Delta Delta Fraternity for women in 1988. The program helped women of Tri Delta maintain a positive body image. Other campuses around the country are also participating in Fat Talk Free Week.
“I think it’s important to end fat talk,” says Samantha Sprouse, a Delta Delta Delta at Illinois State University and former body image leader for the program. “So many women are affected by what others think of them and it often leads to extreme measures of unhealthy dieting!”
Illinois State University will be hosting an events throughout the week to end fat talk, from “Trash your Fat Talk” to writing “you are beautiful” on their bathroom mirrors in their house.
“Girls need to be confident about their bodies,” says Sprouse, who also says the program will help them achieve that confidence.
Sprouse and other affiliated with the movement say the media portrayal of what body type is ideal has hurt many women across the world, from Monmouth to China. Models appearing in magazines and on television do not resemble the majority of women in this world. Women come in all different shapes and sizes, different backgrounds and genetics. Just as women come in different varieties, so does beauty. The Fat Talk Free Week activities hope to teach that there is no one ideal of beauty.
National Love Your Body Day also takes place during Fat Talk Free Week. Here at Monmouth College, Crimson Masque will be performing The Vagina Monologues, opening Tuesday.
Jennifer Erbes, director of The Vagina Monologues and member of Alpha Xi Delta, says the play is “opening the day after Love Your Body Day, which I think is fabulous—simply for the fact that it is a part of the whole movement about becoming comfortable with ourselves.”
While National Love Your Body Day and Fat Talk Free Week only come around once a year, organizers hope that participants will remember the campaigns all year. They say that maintaining a strong positive body image can make you feel better about yourself and can improve your life. Tri Delta’s Body Image Program provides women with things they can use throughout the year to promote a positive body image:
1. Choose one friend or family member and discuss one thing you like about yourselves.
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 negative body talk. When you catch your friend talking negatively about their body, remind them 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.” μ
Michelle Bruce ‘12