My female friends, my sisters, the women I work with. They’re all at it.
I can’t start a conversation with any of them without it inevitably veering into weird body shaming territory.
Last week I was trying to persuade a friend to come to the gym with me.
“It’d be fun. It’s a really gentle class – just some stretching and bodyweight stuff.”
“No way,” she said. “I haven’t squeezed into gym gear in about a year. That’s why I’m so fat. I’m a pig.”
A few days after that, it was my sister-in-law.
“Fancy going for a swim?” I asked her, one beautiful sunny morning.
“Ugh. No. I can’t find a swimsuit big enough. I’ll look like a whale.”
No amount of cajoling would work. They were already deep down the body-hating rabbit hole and had shut their ears to everything but that toxic inner voice.
We’re all women of a certain age (in our thirties…ahem), with a good education, a loving upbringing, a stable home life, professional careers and yet some of us can’t stop talking to ourselves like vicious, snarky children.
It’s especially frustrating to me because I’ve worked so hard to quiet that voice in my own head. It held full reign over my emotions from puberty until my mid-twenties and I’m determined not to let it get a foothold again.
But that’s why this trend is so dangerous. Body-shaming begets more body-shaming. Anyone who’s ever been a teenage girl can tell you that it takes about a minute for one innocent comment: “Oooh, that cake looks good” to degenerate into a competition over who has the fattest thighs.
It’s a train to crazy town and everyone gets pulled onboard.
And so this is an open letter to my friends (especially the ones who are mothers of little girls), my family and pretty much every women I know: please cut it out. That might not sound very sensitive but it really is that simple. The best way to stop that negative talk is to stop talking negatively.
I don’t want to hear it and your fragile self-image definitely doesn’t want to hear it.
Weigh in: Do your friends/family ‘fat talk’? Does it bother you? How do you respond when a friend makes a negative comment about herself?