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Does this outfit make me look fat?

October 20, 2010

How often do you ask this question to your boyfriend, friends or roommates when you’re getting ready?


This week marks 2010’s “Fat Talk Free Week.” Fat talk is exactly what it sounds like. Talking about fat. The fear of being fat, feeling fat, losing fat. They can be comments to ourselves in our thoughts or said aloud to friends.

Even though I am at a healthy weight, I make these comments constantly. Aloud, they usually come out in the form of sarcasm. You know, “I’m going to have to pass on my skinny jeans this week after that bagel.” It’s instinct. We are a nation taught to “earn” everything we enjoy to the point of overkill. I can’t indulge in a chocolate croissant without thinking about the treadmill session I’ll have to schedule later to burn it off.

The comments that aren’t made aloud are a little more brutal, as is usually case with internal dialogue. Often, this talk presents itself when I’m getting dressed in front of a full-length mirror. And I do wonder if those little jokes I make provoke internal fat thoughts even more.

Full disclosure: I used to hate my stomach. It is, still, my problem area. The women in my family all have a tummy, and some have gone to extreme workout and dieting lengths to get rid of that extra “pudge.” It’s genetics — even at our skinniest, we just don’t have flat stomachs. We have long legs, we are tall, and have an incredibly stubborn resistance to gray hair, but in college, I couldn’t be thankful for any of this until my stomach was like the girls in the magazines. My ex-boyfriend always told me he loved it and that it was “cute” (boys, take heed — this adjective makes our heads explode), but it didn’t matter — the “fat talk” in my head was relentless.

I guess it’s not that I grew to love it; I’ll be honest, I’m still not a fan. But you have to focus on the positive and stop obsessing over what you can’t change about your body. I wear flowy tops, I have a pair of go-to Spanx I wear whenever I don a not-so-forgiving dress. And you know what? Most real girls don’t have completely flat stomachs, or if they do, they have something else about their bodies that they equally detest for similarly silly reasons.

I think the best ways to abolish “fat talk” are as follows:

  • Admit that there’s always going to be something about your body that you don’t like, so focus on the positive instead. I love my legs, so I’ll wear short dresses with a flowy midsection. Have Jennifer Aniston arms? Rock those sleeveless tops. You get the idea.
  • On the same token, wear the best clothes for your body, and stop forcing yourself into outfits that aren’t you, body-type wise. (Discussed more here.)
  • Compliment your friends always and give them a verbal slap-on-the-wrist whenever they make fat comments aloud. Sometimes a positive comment will stick around with me for months or even years afterward. Likewise, a negative, thoughtless jab (or the combined effect of years of bagel jokes) can stick around too, so watch your tongues. (I will never forgot a comment made to me that involved the words “grazing” and “Lane Bryant.” Never.) Words are incredibly powerful.
  • Have a younger sister, daughter or niece? Fat talk begins here. Especially with the role models they have these days (stick-thin!), I think younger generations have it even harder than we did.
  • Yoga. A sport based solely on what your body and only your body can do. I’ve grown such an appreciation for the abilities my body is blessed with, to the point that a little extra “pudge” doesn’t seem so awful anymore.
  • Make it a point to read positive, empowering literature/blogs on a regular basis for extra help. For example, Operation Beautiful.

Those are the techniques I’ve used over the past few years, and as always I am a work in progress. In addition to all of those tips, this lovely lady, known as Joan Harris on the spectacular “Mad Men,” has been giving me such a boost lately:

Christina. F-ing. Hendricks.

Make the pledge to change the conversation, and put an end to fat talk. See what other women are saying about it on the Facebook page here.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2010 9:55 am

    It’s too bad that Christina Hendricks wants to lose weight now. What a cultural failure

  2. October 20, 2010 9:59 am

    Yep, definitely guilt of this…I wouldn’t call it “fat talk,” but I definitely have the body part that I’ve constantly bemoaned since high school: my derriere. Even though my exes (all two of them) have said they loved it, I still always feel self-conscious in shorts (save for running) and miniskirts. And even though I wouldn’t go as far as to call it “fat,” I still sometimes look in the mirror and wish the weight there could be more equally distributed throughout the rest of my body. I don’t know if I’ll ever “love” it, but I’m glad to say that I don’t hate it!

    P.S. I do have a flat stomach, but it’s not always sunshine and roses– if I have one of those days where I eat too much mac and cheese, I’m likely to get offered a seat on the subway.

  3. Katy permalink*
    October 20, 2010 1:22 pm

    I read an article in some magazine a month or so ago that said when a woman thinks she is having a “fat day,” the reality is a random observer saw no difference. I always remind my roommate of this when she tells me how fat she looks (which she of course does not). I’m pretty happy with the way I look right now. I’ve been bigger. I’ve been smaller. Most of my desire to lose weight comes from my desire to be healthy, not skinny. Looking back on pics of me from college, I definitely didn’t dress in a way that flattered my body. I’m what you’d call “pear” shaped, and I feel like I used to dress in a way that made it more exaggerated. I now know better. I’m short, so I like to balance myself out. I usually always wear a top that is nipped in at the waist or rock the belted look. I still have those days when I hate how everything looks on me, and those are the days I wear leggings and a baggy top. I find confidence in the clothes I wear, so I try to bring that out on a daily basis.

  4. October 20, 2010 4:38 pm

    I totally agree with Katy. I’ve gotten a lot better in the past 3-4 years about dressing for my body … which is difficult because I have semi-broad shoulders and “athletic” (ha) legs. I generally just try to emphasize an hourglass shape.

    I don’t really desire to be “skinny” as much as I desire to be healthy and strong. It’s awesome knowing I can hold a headstand or whatever, and if I was super-skinny, I might not have that strength. Plus, there’s no way I’ll ever be “skinny” by fashion magazines’ standards.


  5. October 20, 2010 6:17 pm

    Thank you for this!

    I’ve been a size 10 since 9th grade! Seriously! It used to bother me that I was so much bigger than my friends, but I’m happy now for my size. I have muscular, long legs from working out. I have boobs. I have a tummy, but it’s not huge. And my hips will be great when I’m ready for kids. 🙂

    • Jenny permalink*
      October 22, 2010 12:00 pm

      “And my hips will be great when I’m ready for kids. ”

      🙂 Great point!

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