"Fat Talk"

Recently I was washing my hands in a public bathroom when a woman turned to me and remarked how much she hated her hair that morning. 

Mind you, I've never met this woman before. But I felt the need to find something that I hate about myself in order to connect with her... “You’re hair looks great but geez look at these bags under my eyes!” We walked out of the bathroom in conversation. 

Was the small connection worth it? 

As humans we too often feel the need to bond over the negative. The phenomenon of women connecting over the parts of their bodies that they hate was given the term, “fat talk” by Mimi Nichter. 

By focusing on the negative we form connections that are rooted in negative views of self and others. Imagine saying “I love my hair!” to someone that is complaining about theirs. That never happens! Even if we are actually loving how we look, we tend to search for the negative in order to connect. Imagine how much kinder we would be to ourselves and others if we combatted negativity with positivity. 

Negative self-talk is a cycle that, when left unchecked, can perpetuate continual self-hatred. Our topics of conversation penetrate the deepest parts of who we are. If we are talking negatively about ourselves to others, we are prone to continue that cycle when we think about ourselves. 

Marriage has really opened my eyes to the ways that I talk negatively about myself. Jeremy and I talk about how marriage feels like you are holding up a mirror to the deepest parts of yourself: the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I’m getting ready for the day, I’ll often make remarks to Jeremy about myself that are loaded with critical self-talk. In those moments, my sweet husband stops me and reminds me to break those cycles of negative self-talk. He once asked me if I would ever say the same negative things I say to myself to someone else? I would never think about being so cruel to someone else! But wait… then why would I ever say it to myself...?

Learning a new practice of self-love is hard work. I call it a practice because it is not something that just happens. It takes an immense amount of practice before it can become a habit. There’s disagreement on an exact number, but many people say it takes 21 days for a practice to become a habit. With the amount of criticism and comparison that is seemingly ingrained in our culture I would say it takes even longer to form positive self-talk into a habit. 

What is positive self-talk? Dr. Gregory Jantz  explains that "positive self-talk is not self-deception; rather, positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself."

At times, we believe the lie that who we are is not enough.

We need to counter lies with truth.

You are enough. 

Just as you are. You are enough.

The way that you look, the way that you feel, who you are is ENOUGH. 

In situations where you feel yourself talking negatively about yourself, stop, pause, take a deep breath, and remind yourself of truth. 

This person does not define your worthiness. 

The way that you look does not define your worthiness. 

The mistakes you make do not define your worthiness. 

YOU ARE ENOUGH.  

Imagine how your day would be different if you started the morning by repeating that sentence. 

I’ve noticed that when I start my day with positivity, I obsess less over the little things, I handle failure with more confidence, and I worry less about what others think of me. When we rest in truth and self-love, we begin to see others differently too. We have an easier time recognizing when someone is hurting and in their own cycle of self-hatred. And rather than fuel them with negative self-talk we then have the opportunity to invite them to something more. We don’t have to sabotage our practice of self-love for connection. 

Switching the inner-dialogue of “fat talk” starts with becoming aware of how you speak to yourself. When you become aware, you will refuse to engage in negative talk just to form connection. This act of awareness  switches the narrative. Together, let’s switch it from Fat Talk to Fabulous Talk. 

Elyssa Schultheiss