Women often engage in conversations about their body weight. For most women, this type of discussion is common. Women can think that complimenting a friend while making disparaging remarks about their own physique is beneficial to the other and has no negative consequence for themselves. But experts are finding that this is not so. A recent study involving college women shows that this “fat talk” may actually increase a woman’s dissatisfaction with her own body image. They say that these same women believe that this type of dialogue makes them see themselves in a more positive light when in truth it increases their own negative self images.
Researchers Rachel H. Salk of the University of Wisconsin and Renee Engeln-Maddox of Northwestern University say “The most common response to fat talk was denial that the friend was fat, most typically leading to a back-and-forth conversation where each of two healthy weight peers denies the other is fat while claiming to be fat themselves.”
Another interesting factor revealed in the research showed that although this type of banter had negative implications on a woman’s view of her body image, frequency of “fat talk” had no direct relation to a woman’s body mass index. “In other words, there was no association between a woman’s actual body size and how often she complained about her body size with peers,” Salk and Engeln-Maddox wrote. “These results serve as a reminder,” wrote Salk and Engeln-Maddox, “that for most women, fat talk is not about being fat, but rather about feeling fat.” Overcoming a negative self image is difficult for some women, but these new results show that by simply avoiding this type of conversation a woman may begin to see herself in a better light.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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