Proud2Bme | How About a Name Change for Fat Talk Free Week?

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How About a Name Change for Fat Talk Free Week?

By Chelsea Kronengold--It's Fat Talk Free® Week, a movement started by the Delta Delta Delta (Tri Delta) sorority to shed light on body image issues and the negative impact of the "thin ideal," specifically as it pertains to college-aged women. I like the spririt of the campaign, but I think it needs a new name. Here's why.

According to Tri Delta’s Fat Talk Free Week page, the goal of Fat Talk Free® Week is to: (1) Educate others about the damaging impact of pursuing the thin ideal and the use of fat talk on women of all ages, (2) Inspire change in the way we think and feel about our bodies, and (3) Promote a healthy lifestyle and one that urges individuals to live a balanced life in mind, body & spirit.

Throughout the course of the week, Tri Delta sisters and supporters will engage in various activist activities, including posting the hashtag #endfattalk on social media platforms and leaving kind and encouraging notes around campus (Operation Beautiful™ Day). Promoting positive body image and self-acceptance are great goals, don’t get me wrong. I would like to give credit to Tri Delta for spreading awareness about body image issues. But their focus on ending “fat talk” is flawed because it perpetuates the idea that fat is bad.

Yes, being obese can contribute to health problems. But many of the people who engage in fat talk are of a healthy weight and size. And being medically overweight doesn’t necessarily mean a person will have the medical complications associated with obesity. The Health at Every Size ℠ movement promotes the importance of well-being and healthy habits rather than defining health by the number on the scale or the size of your clothes.

The negative associations with the word "fat" can lead people who HAVE more fat (fat is not something you are, it’s something you have) to approach the world with a “me vs. them” attitude. Take Megan’s Trainor’s "All About That Bass," in which she insults “skinny bitches” while trying to promote her own self-acceptance. Furthermore, the lyric, “I know you think you’re fat, but I’m here to tell ya every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top” is still suggesting that thinking you’re fat is a bad thing. Who says you can’t be perfect from the bottom to the top even if you are society’s definition of “fat”?

The idea that we should reject the thin ideal by ending fat talk also fails to acknowledge cultures that don’t equate thinness with beauty. By placing emphasis on the thin ideal (or anti-fat talk), this movement implies that everyone strives to obtain the white, upper middle class, heterosexual ideal of beauty. A term like “beauty ideal,” on the other hand, is more inclusive and it incorporates pressures from all communities to look a certain way.

While I applaud Delta Delta Delta for their efforts to raise awareness about body image concerns, I encourage the sorority to consider renaming their body image awareness week to something less stigmatizing. People of all sizes deserve self-acceptance.

About this blogger: Chelsea is a body image and eating disorder scholar and activist, currently pursuing a master's degree in clinical psychology from Columbia University's Teachers College. In addition to her studies, Chelsea is a consultant and program administrator for NEDA’s implementation of The Body Project. Prior to working on The Body Project, Chelsea coordinated the inaugural and second annual Gainesville, FL NEDA walks and served as the Proud2Bme National Outreach Coordinator. Chelsea has spoken on behalf of NEDA and Proud2Bme about her personal struggles with binge eating disorder and body dissatisfaction to media platforms such as Huffington Post Live, Seventeen Magazine, WebMD and SiriusXM Doctor Radio.

Related:

Negative Body Talk Is Alive and Well Among College Women

Let's Trash the Fat Talk

 

 

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