Fat talk, which is defined as public body self-disparagement, is omnipresent throughout our culture. Negative talk of this type is actually viewed as a type of social bonding ritual among women. Whereas females may fail to connect on topics such as people they know or where they grew up and attended school, once they embark on a discussion of weight loss or how to achieve tighter abs, everyone usually joins in.
A 2011 survey revealed that more than 90 percent of college women reported engaging in fat talk. This was particularly noteworthy since only 9 percent of these young women were actually overweight.
And lest it be thought that this method of conversing is exclusive to young women, this type of critical talk appears to be universal. In another survey of thousands of women between the ages of 16 to 70, it was discovered that fat talk was practiced across the board.
Moreover, conversational body shaming is more than commonplace among women and is on the rise in men as well.
Facebook offers users a number of emoticons they can use to describe feelings such as happy, sad, lucky, etc. Recently due to a petition generated by astute Facebook users, the social media site deleted “fat” from the list of status update emoticons, which had previously displayed chubby cheeks and a double chin.
Some may view this move as an over-reaction. On the contrary, we perceive it as a small, yet positive, step to reduce our culture’s extreme fat focus.
Fat talk rarely results in anything positive. Common consequences are that it enforces negative body image, eating-disordered behaviors and even body contempt. No one ever walks away from a fat chat feeling better about themselves.
The elimination of an emoticon on Facebook will not change the world, but if a number of fat chats are stopped before they are ever started, this is a step in the right direction.