Last week when I had dinner with my twenty-nine year-old niece and her friend, we compared notes about the “fat talk” phenomena that continues to pop up despite increased awareness of how it belittles us.
“You look great! Have you lost weight?”
My thoughts: If I look great now, how did I look before?
“She’d be so pretty if she could just slim down.”
My thoughts: Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but is her size the most important thing to you?
“Is that on your diet?”
My thoughts: Who say’s I’m on a diet? Isn’t my body okay the way it is?
“You’re not having seconds, are you?”
My thoughts: Ouch! You’re assuming that you know how hungry I am, that you’re in a better position than me to determine how much to eat, and that you have the right to make that decision for me.
While others may indulge in Fat Talk, most of the time we who have food issues are the ones who are berate ourselves the most. In the book, Goodbye Ed, Hello Me, author Jenni Schaefer* reveals how she responded effectively to remarks that arose from her Eating Disorder, which she called, “Ed.”
Here’s some of the Before dialogue that went on in my head (and still dominates at times) and the New responses I’m trying to learn.
Ed: Norma, you look so fat in that sundress!
Norma: You’re right—I’ll get rid of it.
Norma New: But I like the vibrant colors and swirly skirt. Don’t I have a right to wear something feminine?
Ed: You’re never going to be thin!
Norma: You wanna bet? I can lose 20 pounds before the reunion if I put my mind to it. After all, I’ve done it before. I’ll start tomorrow morning, after I’ve had one last chance to eat my favorite things today.
Norma New: You may be right, Ed, but it’s more important to aim for a healthy body than to obsess about my weight.
Ed: You’ll never get everything done in time. You might as well eat the rest of the brownies you baked yesterday.
Norma: I do need a break, and they are good, aren’t they?
Norma New: How do you know what I’ll get done today, Ed? It’s true I used to eat when I was stressed, but I don’t have to do what you say. I may have a brownie, or not. I’m not hungry right now—I’ll see how I feel later.
Ed: You know you can’t drive past that restaurant without stopping. It’s your favorite and you don’t get that many chances to eat there.
Norma: You’re right. My mouth is watering already.
Norma New: Yes, I can. I don’t have to eat what you dictate, Ed!
As you can see, although I have still have a lot to learn about combating Fat Talk, it’s kind of fun to come up with new responses.