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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!
The Fat Chick