Even though spring break is over, there has been too much fat talk filling the air. You may not know what fat talk is, but you have most likely heard it and actually participated in it as well. Too often, we hear and say things like, “I need to get my body bathing suit ready,” “I really need to lose 10 pounds,” or “I need to work out and get a hot bod.” Conversations like these are not only harmful to your health and peace of mind, but to your friends’.
Two weeks ago was Eating Disorders Awareness Week, if you noticed the scary life-size Barbie in the library. During this week, I learned all about fat talk, and it really brought to my attention how the way women think of themselves and others must change.
It all starts with how women believe they are supposed to look. The “ideal women” as the media portrays it is tan, tall (but not too tall!), has big boobs, a tiny little waist, pin straight, yet voluminous hair, has flawless skin- the list goes on and on. There is no way to be all of these things at once. Each woman is different from the next and we need to learn how to embrace those differences. It stuns me to think that back in the fifties, curvy girls were the ideal, but now it is all about not having an ounce of fat on your body. So many of the things on this list is also perpetuated by how women believe men want them to look. Many women feel as though men want them to look perfect all of the time. How did this come to be? We are smart women (we are in college after all), why do we need that validation from men. (We don’t!)
When women see this ideal on television or in magazines, they feel as though that is what they are supposed to look like. This is so damaging to our peace of mind because that ideal is impossible. If you’re tall, you’re probably going to weigh a little more. If you have big boobs, you’re probably not going to have the smallest waist. If you’re skinny, you probably won’t have the big boobs. Some girls have big curls instead of pin straight hair. We are all so different, and that is what makes us beautiful. Women need to give up this notion of the ideal women. If you spend your life wishing you looked like that, you will never be happy because you will always be reaching for the unattainable. There is a big difference from being healthy than wanting an unrealistic body type.
The actual ideal woman has nothing to do with looks. It all comes from within. She is humble, intelligent, empathetic, selfless, well-spoken, funny, laid back, fun loving, and wears a smile. These are attainable goals. In order to become a better woman, look within yourself and try to act on one of these characteristics.
Many times the first thing we say to a friend when we see her is “You look so tan!” or “You look pretty today.” It’s fine to compliment your friends, but why is it always about physical appearance? Next time, tell your friend that she looks incredibly happy or ask how her day is going. Make it more personal. Compliment about personality and achievements mean so much more.
Now that you understand the basis behind fat talk and why it is so dangerous, it is time to put an end to it. Next time you’re trying clothes on at the mall, do not say “Oh my gosh my thighs look awful in this, I can’t get it.” If a friend is saying similar things, ignore it. Girls will usually stop if they aren’t flooded with the compliments they’re fishing for.
It’s time to start feeling good about ourselves as women, inside and out! I challenge you all to do something you normally wouldn’t do because an insecurity is holding you back. For example, missing a day at the gym because you’re worried you’ll gain weight, or not wearing make up to class. I promise, you will feel liberated!