The Casting Dock

fat talk forbidden: a necessity for our kids.

As a child, I always thought I had a bit of a pudgy stomach and a big nose.

Whaaaaaat?

Our little insecurities are funny sometimes. In hindsight. And with greater perspective.

But in the moment, they are devastating. Sources of tremendous angst, endless obsession, and potentially substantial repercussions. They consume us–overriding our rationality and influencing so many decisions.

I remember lots of little insecurities from childhood and adolescence, but the most prominent revolve around appearance.

Not wanting to take off my shorts at the beach:: Always wrapping a towel around me before bending over in a swimsuit so my (imagined) stomach-rolls wouldn’t be visible to others:: H-A-T-I-N-G sitting in shorts because I thought my legs looked massive:: Trying to squeeeeeze into size-too-small jeans hoping they would stretch out just so I could know I had the tag hanging in my closet.

Wha, whaaaaat?

I know we often blame this thin-obsession on the media and our broader culture. And of course I would agree. We have all seen THE dove commercial. We all know that people on magazine covers are always airbrushed. And they’re already the top 1% of attractiveness as it is. Sheesh. Talk about impossible.

But you know what else feeds this thin-obsession for our kids and our youth?

We do. You and me. The average, every day, middle-to-upper-middle class woman, shopping on amazon, pinning on pinterest, dreaming about character-rich houses, creative cuisine, and cute kids in artsy photo-shoots.

You&Me.

We feed it with our incessant fat talk. Sipping on lattes, chatting with friends, updating statuses.

Fat talk is all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies.

Think about it. We fat talk all.the.time.

we.talk.about.food.and.weight.and.looks.SO.OFTEN.

SOOOOOOO.OFTEN.

I feel fat today:: I hate the way my legs look in these pants:: I had three cookies today and I just feel huge:: That tiramisu was delicious but now I have to get to the gym:: If only I could lose 10 more pounds:: If I could just shave these saddlebags off my thighs…:: Ugh. I hate these pants. My love handles always hang over:: Do you think my legs look fatter? But do you see this part here where they are touching each other? It looks gross:: I hope my jeans still fit after all this food.

We send mixed messages to our kids and we wonder why our kids, girls especially, are more and more appearance-conscious at younger and younger ages. We tell them they are beautiful; they are unique; they are lovely just the way they are; and they are certainly NOT fat.

But what do they see and hear and observe?

They hear us talking about ourselves, complaining about our imperfections, making little jokes and comments about food&calories, setting goals to reach a number on a scale, complimenting another’s appearance while degrading our own. Kids are unbelievably perceptive. It doesn’t matter that we tell them they are beautiful. If they see that we don’t find ourselves beautiful, if they see us obsessed with food&weight&wrinkles&little imperfections, our actions will undoubtedly speak louder than our words.

As a teenager, I made a promise to myself that I would never, ever make any of these silly fat talk, food&weight obsessed comments when I have kids. I will never talk about my weight, my need to diet or cut back on certain foods, or how “fat” I look in certain clothes. I just won’t do it. It sends the wrong message to kids.

I have decided to start that commitment today.

I am absolutely, positively guilty of being a fat-talker.

And let’s be clear, I’ve never actually been fat.

I am 5 feet 5 inches tall and I weigh 130 pounds.

I am not fat. I have never been fat. And yet I definitely fat talk. I know it’s been annoying to my husband at times and it’s sent the wrong message to younger ears. So no more. No little jokes about food or calories or how it’s going to my thighs. No more I feel fat today or I feel like this makes me look fat.

I want fat talk to have no place in my home when I have kids so I am starting the habit now. I also want to someday run some body image & self esteem groups at school so I want to be sure that I am setting the proper example. And I think by setting this as the definitive date, I will realize how often I make these little comments.

I implore my husband (and my friends! real and blogger!) to hold me accountable. Call me out.

I know that food&weight&bodyimage&women is a HUGE topic. And I know there are lots of reasons why women talk about it all so often–to process and find support and community and encouragement. I get that. But I also think it’s REALLY detrimental to the little lingering ears. And I think it perpetuates the cycle.

So as for me and my household, fat talk has no place here.

Starting today.

9 comments

1 Craig W { 02.03.12 at 10:08 am }

“I remember lots of little insecurities from childhood and adolescence, but the most prominent revolve around appearance.”

Well, your doppelganger is Sandra Bullock. So, I think you can be done with the insecurities now. :)

2 Noche { 02.03.12 at 8:41 pm }

Good plan. I think I will jump on your bandwagon and have no more fat talk….heaven, and you, know I am mega guilty of it. Luckily, at this point in my life I am more concerned with being healthy so maybe healthy talk can replace fat talk….you can be the judge of that.

3 Noche { 02.03.12 at 8:43 pm }

Cute picture, pumpkin…what a cutie pie you were and still are! Yes, I am partial, but also CORRECT !!!

4 Lindsey { 02.03.12 at 11:12 pm }

Preach it, sister! I love this post. Thank you for sharing. I’ve been so conscientious of this since having kids, because even though I have boys, I want them to grow up respecting women, not assuming that women need to look like super models, accepting people for who they etc… It’s sad how pervasive this “Fat Talk” is in our society and most people don’t even realize they’re doing it. Ugh. Love your thoughts as always, and you were an ADORABLE little kid! SO cute!

5 Adam { 02.06.12 at 8:25 pm }

You look fat in that picture

6 Adam { 02.06.12 at 8:27 pm }

This isn’t Adam, it’s Bryan. After reading your post, I immediately thought to myself, ‘what would adam say about this?” that’s what I decided his most likely response and posted it to get a little kick out of it. But, of course, you don’t look fat in that photo. You were a cute kid.

Who else is in that picture? Who’s the guy with the pale and sorta hairy arm on the right?

7 Lisa { 02.07.12 at 6:00 am }

Thanks, Craig–I actually do get the Sandra Bullock thing pretty frequently…especially after Miss Congeniality came out when I was in high school.

Lindsey–it seriously is SO persuasive in our society. Since I’ve been paying more attention to it, I’ve found it everywhere. LOVE the way you guys are raising the boys with your attention to not gender stereotyping too!

Noche, heaven and I DO know you’re guilty…but I wasn’t going to call you out. :)

Adam/Bryan: WOW. I literally laughed out loud when I read the first one because it is EXACTLY what Adam would have said. CLASSIC! And I was in between Babci and Steve in the photo, Bry.

8 Kelly { 02.25.12 at 7:28 pm }

Lisa, this is amazing. Not just the video, but your words as well. We tell other people they’re beautiful, but we can’t do it to ourselves. I love your attitude, and I fully support it.

9 Kim { 04.18.12 at 3:50 pm }

http://www.rachelsimmons.com/2012/01/mom-im-fat-one-mothers-inspired-response-to-her-7-year-old/

I saw this article a couple weeks ago – thought you might enjoy.

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