The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Nov 20, 2009

Why is a "Fat-Talk" free environment important?

By now I would imagine that you are all aware that this is Tri-Delta's "Fat-Talk Free" week. When I mentioned this at one of our local high schools a few weeks ago the "Why?" question arose. Why attempt to end fat talk (i.e.: Do I look fat in this? She shouldn't wear that! It's a have such a pretty face! I HATE my thighs! and on and on)?

There are studies that present evidence that fat-talk actually lowers one's self-esteem which can lead to body hatred and possible problematic behaviors to attempt to feel better. There is also enough research to show that by the ages of two or three children have already developed some pretty strong prejudices about fat and fat people.

The fat talk free efforts are based on the Cognitive Dissonance communication theory adopted from social psychology. It applies to all situations involving attitude formation and change. This theory is able to manipulate people into certain behavior and by doing so these people will alter their attitudes themselves. So by presenting some pretty powerful evidence against fat-talk and by linking it to social responsibility ("Friends don't let friends fat talk") we have a strong potential to help people change their own attitudes and ways of speaking.

As many of us know, children hear everything we say ... even when it appears they are not listening. A few weeks ago I saw this truth in action when our nearly two-year-old granddaughter sat quietly playing in our family room while the adults around her carried on their conversations. Within minutes we started to hear our words coming out of her mouth, verbatim. Our conversation had been harmless so nothing she said was shocking, but she had not only heard every word, she immediately integrated them into her play.

This is one of the ways our children learn not only how to speak and what to say but also what to think. I recall when our girls were young I was very careful with the words I used in front of them--I knew they heard all and certainly did not want to hear any expletives come out of their mouths. Sadly, I applied this knowledge only to "swear" words. I failed to realize that seeping into their bones at the same time were the messages they heard from me about my own worth AND how I felt about my body. I guess I thought that since my "fat-talk" was never directed to or about others that somehow self-bashing didn't count. It did.

This week gives us an opportunity to speak and think differently for five days. Imagine if every single one of us stopped our own fat talk and then helped our friends stop theirs. I can imagine the collective sigh of relief this has the potential to bring to our culture. Let's remember, for this week and for always, "Friends don't let friends fat talk." We must start by being a friend to ourselves.

Blessings until next time,


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