Spring Cleaning: Wiping out Negative Body Talk

Let's do some "spring cleaning"!

In honor of spring, I’m initiating a little spring cleaning.  But instead of cleaning closets and windows and cars, this year I’m going to try clean up some of my habits, and assumptions and attitudes.  When cleaning closets or the garage, I’m pretty brutal about tossing out things that I no longer need or want.  So this year, I’m going to throw away a few habits and attitudes that just aren’t working for me any more.  I’m going to pull out the big trash can, and I’m going to start with negative body talk.

Does this sound familiar?

“I hate my thighs!”

“Does my butt look big in this?”

“I can’t believe she’s wearing that.”

“Why can’t I have hair like hers?  Mine is too flat.”

Yup, those phrases represent negative body talk–those little phrases we say inside our heads or share with friends in conversation that put down that most magnificent and beautiful and personal gift, our bodies.  Negative body talk is everywhere.  Our friends do it.  Our families do it.  And most of us do it from time to time.

So what’s wrong with it?  Plenty.  Negative body talk has an immediately detrimental effect on our physical and mental health.  A recent article highlights some studies that indicate that “fat talk predicts changes in depression, body satisfaction, and perceived pressure to be thin across time.”  According to one study, the more fat talk a person talked, the worse they felt–resulting in lower body satisfaction and increased depression after 3 weeks.

Negative body talk is bad for us, and it’s everywhere.  So why do we do it?  I imagine sometimes it’s to fit in and sometimes it’s because we feel bad.  But a lot of times, I think we do it because we don’t even recognize we’re doing it.  You see, negative body talk can be kind of sneaky.  Sure, we recognize a phrase like “I hate my butt” as negative body talk.  But negative body talk can also be much more subtle:

“I’m exercising so I can tone up and look good in a swimsuit.”

“I can show my arms because they look okay, but not my thighs.”

“That dress just doesn’t look good on certain body types.”

“I don’t need to look like a supermodel.  I just want to look good in shorts.”

This kind of negative body talk can be harder to recognize, but it’s negative body talk all the same.  It’s still damaging.  It’s something that “doesn’t work for me any more.”  And this spring I’m working to throw it all out.

So my little chicklettes, how about you?  Ready for some spring cleaning?  Let’s get out some big cardboard boxes and the super big industrial-sized trash bags and get ready to clean house!

Love,

The Fat Chick

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7 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning: Wiping out Negative Body Talk

  1. Pingback: Does this Blog make my Butt Look Big? Why “Fat Talk” may be Bad for your Social Life. | The Fat Chick Sings

  2. fatchicksings Post author

    Yay! Rabbiadar! We’re going to be starting a weekly teleconference for people going through the book very soon. Let me know if you’re interested. :o)

    Reply
  3. rabbiadar

    Self-talk is one of my big challenges right now. I look in the mirror, or at pictures of myself, and I have been trying to see what I LIKE, rather than fixate on unhappiness. I find that the more I do for myself, the easier it is to have positive self talk, for example:

    Looking at my amazingly sturdy legs, I tell myself, “Those are good solid legs.” That isn’t what I used to say about them, but I am really determined not to repeat the old stuff (something tells me that you can imagine what I used to say.) I have seen myself standing to exercise with those legs. I have walked a lot of miles on those legs. I can kick really hard with those legs. They are good legs, dadgummit. And they get better all the time, because I work on them to make them stronger.

    What are some other ways to take negative self-talk and turn it around? It is so horribly destructive, and for me, anyway, positive self-talk about my body does not come intuitively.

    Reply
    1. fatchicksings Post author

      One tool I often use is to thank my body for what it does for me every day. Sometimes I do a progressive relaxation exercise where I contract each individual muscle and then thank it as I release the muscle. I concentrate on “letting go” of negative thoughts about that part of my body as I “release” the contraction. I also try to take time to go places and observe people. I go to places like parks and shopping malls, get comfy and watch. If I really look, I find a tremendous variety of body shapes, sizes and types and realize that very few of us look like the “societal ideal” we see in the media. I seek to see the beauty in ALL of these different kinds of bodies and find that it helps me be more accepting of my own. Hope this helps. (Just thought I’d mention, there’s lots more info about thwarting negative talk in my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! as well.)

      Jeanette
      AKA The Fat Chick

      Reply

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