Friends don't let friends talk fat

The Tri Delta sorority is sponsoring a five-day awareness effort to help women understand the damaging impact of "fat talk."

By Kate Harding
Published October 13, 2008 4:14PM (EDT)

If you're like me, your first thought when you hear the words "Delta Delta Delta" is "Can I help ya help ya help ya?" This means two things: 1) You're getting old (youngsters, it's from a '90s "SNL" sketch ), and 2) you probably haven't heard that Fat Talk Free Week begins today.

A few years ago, the Tri Delta sorority and Academy for Eating Disorders fellow Carolyn Becker of Trinity University began co-developing the Reflections body image program, "the first peer-led, evidence-based eating disorders prevention program shown to truly work." After 12,000 hours of research on Reflections at 12 major universities, they're now launching the program nationwide with Fat Talk Free Week. 

What is Fat Talk Free Week? It's five days of nationwide events during which women are encouraged to quit talking smack about their own bodies and other women's. ("I need to lose 10 pounds." "She's too fat to be wearing that." "My thighs are so huge." Et frickin' cetera.) The cumulative effect of those little statements does a number on one's self-image, and studies on the Reflections program have shown that knocking off the fat talk really can -- forgive me -- help ya help ya help ya.

Reflections seeks to supplant the "thin ideal" with "the 'healthy ideal,' which looks different for every woman and focuses on health, not weight or size," according to the video it has created to kick off Fat Talk Free Week (below). Not only is that a peachy idea for boosting self-esteem, but researchers like Linda Bacon -- whose new book, "Health at Every Size," details the philosophy of focusing on health without regard to weight -- have long argued that it leads to better physical health outcomes. A recent New York Times Magazine article noted that the only randomized control trial comparing a Health at Every Size approach with a traditional weight loss program (led by Bacon in 2005) found that after two years, the HAES group sustained lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while "the average dieter had regained all her lost weight, and the only measurement that dropped was one for self-esteem." Turns out putting the focus on health actually makes people healthier. Go figure. 

In promoting Fat Talk Free Week, the Tri Delts are joined by the National Organization for Women, whose annual Love Your Body Day is Oct. 15. So if you can't cut out the fat talk for five whole days, then at least try to make it through Wednesday without ragging on your love handles, all right? If you need more encouragement, check out the official Fat Talk Free Week video below. Fifty-four percent of women would rather get hit by a truck than get fat, y'all. Something's got to give.


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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