Food & Drink Magazine

Ladies, Let's Please Stop the Fat Talk.

By Vegsmoothiebunny

Preamble: I have to admit I’ve been having a really good life this past year. Since changing my eating habits and making some radically different lifestyles choices, I spend my days basking in a lot of warmth and positivity. The days may be hard but there is this deep seated sense of indescribable peace that everything would work out fine in the end. I’ve honestly never been happier.  These mornings I wake up eager to love and be loved and to just experience life to the fullest, y’know? I no longer weigh myself or even count calories and life is simple and very beautiful. ___________________________________________________________________________________________
Over the last weekend, I found myself at a dinner function. Surrounded by a table full of genial aunties and uncles, I was looking forward to having a good night of good food and good conversation. The average age of those around the table was easily 45 and I was eager to learn from their stories and experiences. Unfortunately, the small talk around the table soon took a turn for the worse- not about the weather, not about cars and their current prices. I’m talking about the unavoidable-- fat talk.
What is fat talk, you might wonder? It’s internal self guilt manifesting in your speech. It’s a subtle attempt for affirmation. It’s the constant desire for a better body. 
Ladies, let's please stop the fat talk.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. It’s a girlfriend squeezing her tummy after a heavy meal and going “omg, I’m SO FAT” or a friend posting a picture of a delectable dessert with the caption “so fat already, still want to eat this. Fat die me.” You are then obligated to reply something along the lines of “no, you aren’t fat.” And in most cases, your obligation extends to deprecating yourself to elevate your friend. 
I’ve heard it so many times. Almost like a act of social conduct in female bonding, a flaw is pointed out, only to be soothe with a self perceived greater flaw on the part of the loyal friend. It goes on and on and on and goes nowhere. Suffice to say, I HATE IT and I certainly didn’t expect it at a dinner function filled with 50 year olds. (Makes me sad to think that you never really escape this sense of being the wrong body size for society). 
**I need to pause here for a moment and say that this article is in no way directed to ANYONE present at the function that night. I feel compelled to write this article because it surprised me to realize that fat talking is SO ingrained in our culture that even the nicest, most wonderful people- people who champion positive living and are mothers, father, husbands, wives, friends, may subconciously fall into the trap of fat talking. ***
Let me tell you why I hate fat talking.
Firstly, fat talking traps.
It traps you, it traps me, it traps the whole of society.  During the dinner, everyone was making jokes with EVERY mouthful that the meal was ‘so fattening’.  One woman would say “it’s so hard to lose weight nowadays.” And another would reply “it’s okay, just eat and be merry! You have had 2 children!” before proceeding to say “Not like me, I am not even near your age yet I have such fat tummy rolls. Tomorrow after this meal, it’s going to get bigger!”
And these were very very petite women engaging in fat talk. Quite possibly the last straw came when one of them mentioned that she was horrified she was now more than 47kg. 47? It didn’t matter that just an hour ago I was all confidently sashaying into the dinner room. The topics around me had my head spinning in circles. It didn’t matter that I knew every principle there was to healthy living or I regularly told people that size didn’t matter, health does. In that one hour, I was 21 again and 15kg heavier. My clothes felt tight and the diet mentality set in. Even as I twirled a cold noodle around my fork, I was silently making plans to start a diet- ‘tomorrow’. I contemplated and did mental calculations on how long it would take me to burn off the extra weight I was now carrying. If 1kg was 7700 calories then…
It didn’t matter that life was amazing now. It didn’t matter how much I’ve gone through to be where I am today. An hour of fat talk was enough to entrap my 21 year old self with zero self esteem back into my 25 year old body. I am slimmer now, I am happier now but so what? All I could think of at that moment was that I wasn’t good enough. I had to get slimmer, I had to achieve.. achieve what? I didn’t know. But I sure wasn’t doing enough.
Please ladies, please let go of the fat talk. I know there are some of you out there (in fact, probably the whole table of genuinely warmhearted and caring people at that table that night) who see such talk as innocuous and just a good jibe for a fun time. (Why so serious? You might say.) But what you don’t see are hundreds, thousands of girls who wake up each and everyday too ashamed to look at themselves in the mirror because someone whom they thought was gorgeous and perfect complained about the size of their thighs. If someone ‘perfect’ doesn’t feel ‘perfect’, then how far away is the ideal? You don’t see lots and lots of girls who have come such a long way with their struggles. There are girls out there who instead of celebrating their newfound peace and joy with their healthier eating habits and greater zest for life, still feel the need to apologize for their less than perfect arms when they take a selfie.
Fat talk reinforces the body ideal and does nothing to elevate health. It traps women (and men) and society in an endless chase of perfection that would amount to nothing but despair and self hate.

Secondly, fat talk is judgy and reflects badly on you and society.
Oh, so you think complaining about your tummy rolls is just that? A harmless comment? You may not need or want anybody to affirm you. Heck, maybe you REALLY said that in a moment of jest but when you can’t say anything else—that’s when the real problem shows. Your conversation topics reflect who you are as a person, simple and true. I was surviving the dinner at the table that night till someone leaned over towards me in confidence and asked if my mother had tummy rolls as well. I don’t know what that question was for. Maybe it was just a little sisterly solidarity  and I'm sure it was not made with any offensive intention whatsoever but all I could think of was –‘is that all you want to know about my mother?’ My mother is amazing and beautiful. She has worked all her life juggling a full time job and a household of rambunctious kids  without any form of external help whatsoever. She is resourceful and intelligent and beautiful. Yes, my mother has tummy rolls but she is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.’ And that’s what really gets my goat. If all a person can think of day in and out is what to wear, what people are wearing, how much money they are making or how they look, then forgive me when I see them looking at me and think them a hypocrite when something nice comes out of their mouth. If all they think about each and every moment is their own outward appearance, then wouldn’t it be fair to say that that’s all they see of a person?
If you are a parent, it’s even more imperative that you don’t engage in fat-talk. Self esteem issues aside, there is no point teaching young children to not care about outward appearances and be nice to everyone else when adults are engaging in negative fat talk all day long. It doesn’t matter what you say to kids. They are going to learn that it doesn’t matter how amazing you are, the first thing people are going to see is how you look. Have you ever had moments when you met someone you haven’t seen in awhile and all they say is “hey! You look like you have put on/ lost some weight!” Years and years of not seeing each other and that’s the first thing that comes to our minds? Do you not care about what the person has been through? Do you not care about what he has experienced, what he has learned, how he has grown as a person?
I hope that when my friends meet up, they would engage in plenty of scintillating conversations that have nothing to do with a person’s appearance. I hope that when you meet my friend who has a BMI of 30 or 22, or 18, that you may caution them about their health if they open up to you about it, but that you will sit with them and learn about what makes them laugh and what they are passionate about.
I’m really hoping that when my mom and that person have a chance to meet up, both of them, as women, would see each other for the years they have selflessly toiled to bring up their children, for all the effort they have given to maintaining their households. I hope they share an immediate instinct that standing before them is another woman, another mother who has and will do anything for their families. That in the less than perfect thighs and rounded hips, they would recognize hours of bouncing a baby and soothing him to sleep and that beneath the soft swell of a less than perfect body, lies a heart of perfect maternal love.
I hope you never look into the mirror and think that you aren’t the right size to live. That one day, when you have lost x amount of weight, life would be perfect because it wouldn’t be. Don’t wait till then. Life is here and now. I hope you never find yourself in the pits of negative fat talk but most of all, I hope you never project your own insecurities onto others to fuel the fat talk.
The next time somebody complains that they are fat, switch the topic to health, engage in something more positive. Encourage them to try on another pair of jeans—it’s not that they are too fat for the jeans, it’s that particular pair of jeans that isn’t suitable.  Not putting yourself down to elevate someone else isn’t arrogance. It’s awareness of the deeper lying issues and the firm conviction to not allow someone to feel bad about themselves unnecessarily ever again. _______________________________________________________________________________Addedum: I ended up bursting into tears in a very public place and feeling awful about being so sensitive and emotionally fragile. But I returned home and saw all the emails I’d gotten from readers and the people I usually mix with and I realised that a life full of positivity can be achieved if we just get the message out. Fat-talking does not need to be a bonding social tool for women. It does not need to be the norm. We can herald change for the next generation of mothers, daughters, girlfriends and sisters. 
Have you ever struggled with fat-talking before or been a victim of it? Share your story via email or a comment below and empower other girls to recognize and stop it too. <3
In health, happiness and so much love, grace.  
/edit: I'm not saying that when you feel down and insecure, you refrain from reaching out to someone for comfort and assistance. Please don't do that! (I'm definitely here to listen to all your insecurities) but don't engage in unnecessary fat talk that serves no purpose. We can help change the world :)

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