One More Reason Not to Call Yourself Fat

The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” has been proven false time after time again.

It turns out that the terms you use to refer to yourself may also impact your mental and emotional health, according to a recent survey directed by  a group of students from the University of Arizona at Tucson..

Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat,” was what I repeated to myself over and over throughout my decade long struggle with obesity. “I’m fat and cannot do anything about it,” I’d tell John or one of my close friends. “Fatty,” would run through my mind when I struggled to fasten a seat belt or squeeze through a tightly packed room.

I distinctly remember standing in front of my mirror looking at myself thinking, “How did I get to be so fat.” I’d squeeze my stomach and think, “Fat.” I’d look at pictures like this and instead of seeing a loving husband and darling children, I’d focus on my huge hips and overhanging abdomen.

Being morbidly obese is never easy. Our bodies are not designed to carry double the weight that is healthy for our frame and age. Our joints are affected, we often feel out of breath after short bouts of exertion, and the health risks are real and scary.

The small study showed that the people who engage in “fat talk” – or the types of conversations I had with myself often tended to be more depressed and less happy with their own appearance.

That’s no surprise to me. I did feel horrible about my appearance. I stopped trying to look nice when I went out and threw on the first piece of clothing my hand touched rather than considering whether the dress was clean, wrinkle free, or even remotely flattering. The dissatisfaction with my body spilled over into how I talked about myself to John and others. I never had anything positive to say about my appearance.

If someone said, “You have nice green eyes,” I’d shrug. Inside I’d think, “Too bad they are swallowed by fat cheeks and ugly glasses.”

I was probably somewhat depressed during those years as well. I did all the right things that a young mom is supposed to do, but there was a lot of joy missing from my life.

The researchers also studied whether internal “fat talk” had more of an impact on depression and body dissatisfaction or whether “fat talk” they heard in the media had more of an impact. Interestingly, internal “fat talk” seems to be much more damaging than media exposure to “fat talk.”

There’s no easy answer for this one. I know that self-love is an important component of the healing process, but quite frankly, it can be hard to stop those “fatty” messages that so many of us play over and over.

One technique that I found helpful when I fell into that trap during my weight loss year was to mentally stop myself every time I began uttering the “fat” phrases. I reminded myself that yes, I was overweight, but I also had good qualities.

My weight did not define who I was. My attitude and actions defined who I was.

If you struggle with this, I’d encourage you to replace those “fat talk” messages with positive thinking. Find a phrase, a poem, a bible verse, a quotation or something that you can repeat to yourself to remember that you are not defined by your weight.

How do you do in this area?  Diane


27 thoughts on “One More Reason Not to Call Yourself Fat

  1. Jodi @ Jodi, Fat or Not says:

    For me it was a bit different, I decided to OWN the word fat. It took away its power as something negative and made it something positive. I also stopped using it the wrong way..such as saying things like “I feel fat,” because “fat” is not a feeling. Learning to take away negative connotations with the word fat was a huge deal in my development and definitely lead me to get healthy!

    • Meg (@LadyMegSoprano) says:

      That was me, too. I decided to take back ownership of it, especially after one of my kindergartners referred to me as fat one day and I realized that he meant nothing harmful by it, he was simply a five-year-old making a completely non-judgemental observation.

      Like you, Jodi, it helped me get healthy, too, owning it!

  2. Vhinz says:

    Hi Diane,

    Hats off to your positive way of thinking! yeah that’s what you need to overcome your depression regarding your health and we all know god has its reason for everything that is happening, and as long as we do our job, responsibilities, we never stepped down others nor hurt someone and we live full of love. We can live a happier life, the key here is to think positive.

  3. Paige Morrill says:

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I throughly enough reading your updated. I feel like I can relate in so many ways having been there myself. “Fat talk!” I keep telling people that one of the biggest challenges they will face is the power of the mind at what it can do to you. Great post!
    ❀ Paige

  4. Jennifer says:

    I agree and try to take those thoughts captive. And I also try to be positive in my self talk as well. It’s not always easy nor am I always successful.

  5. liz says:

    I definitely agree with you. I think that a healthy positive attitude is almost just as important as a healthy weight.

    I have been there in the closet saying mean things to myself. But now that I am at that point that I have lost 17 lbs I really feel better in my clothes that is tends to be easier to dress myself in my cuter clothes then my bigger clothes.

  6. Roz@weightingfor50 says:

    Another great post Diane. If I catch myself engaging in negative self talk, I say OSIC to myself. “Operation Silence the Inner Critic”. Sounds silly, but it works. Have a wonderful Friday!!!!

  7. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    Such a great post Diane! I think this positive self talk is one of the hardest things for many!!! I still struggle after all these years but I am so more aware of it now which is good & makes me try hard to find good things to say! 🙂

  8. Melinda says:

    What a great post!

    I have to say that this is something I struggle with every moment of every day. I have never not been fat–it has been one of the ways others define me and I define myself. I’m working on changing it, but it is hard…..

  9. me says:

    I struggle more with the judgments of others~THAT’S when the discouraging self-talk begins. That anyone could think less of another human being for appearance reasons of any kind~there’s a person in here!!!!!

  10. Janis says:

    From what you said in your post, it sounds as if “fat” was a synonym for “powerless.” 🙁 That’s such a hard thing to stop thinking …

  11. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    This is at the basis of everything I do! Through all the literal ups and downs of my weight, there is only one thing that made a difference in keeping it down: loving and accepting myself and my body, in the moment. It is not a perfect process, it’s not a matter of flipping a switch. Talking positively to oneself…and believing it requires constant practice and vigilance…much more so than, say, counting calories. I truly believe that when I fully love and accept myself, I do the right things for my body.

  12. Chris says:

    I have to watch this. Self-hatred is big with me. One time, I was thinking about having dessert at a dinner out, and my guy said, “It’s fine if you want to have dessert, but sometimes when you eat something sweet and you think you shouldn’t, you really sound like you hate yourself, and I don’t like that.” Awww!

  13. Kaitie says:

    Negative self-talk is something I have dealt with frequently since middle school. Relying on the faith and support/love of my parents helps – they have never called me anything but beautiful. Believing them is the issue.

    I am currently struggling with this a lot – I recently got out of a long, emotional relationship, and when you are in the “why does no one want me” period of wallowing, its hard to keep the positive thoughts in your head! I just keep repeating Psalm 139 in my head and pass the time in the gym (that can never hurt, right?)

  14. Taryl says:

    I agree negative self talk is bad stuff. I can’t say I never engage in it, but it is exceedingly rare and I’m grateful for that. It isn’t profitable for me to fill my mind with, you know?

  15. Leah says:

    I’ve said this before… Geneen Roth wrote an article a few years back about loving yourself if you never lost another pound. I realized at 220 pounds I couldn’t do that; I couldn’t look in the mirror and honestly see beauty. When I made the choice to learn to love myself even if I never lost the weight I know something changed. It was nine more months and another ten pounds before I decided to try and lose weight again, but I know the summer I chose to quit hating myself was when the changes truly began happening in my life.

  16. Lacey says:

    The reason why I taking a chance to enrolled in a fitness activity, because I don’t want to hear any tease for being huge fatty woman…

  17. Laura Jane @ Recovering Chocoholic says:

    I definitely struggle with negative self talk. I realized that I was focusing way too much on that one area of my life and ignoring all the others. Yes, I am overweight and that’s not ideal, but I’m working on it the best I can. I also have tons of other positive qualities and things going on in my life.

  18. Laura says:

    I don’t want to hear anything from other, feeling that I am a different and they are capable than me… I am conscious in my health, dress and way of interaction because I have a positive thoughts in life…

  19. Dr. J says:

    I tend to think this is different from person to person. Being objective seems to me to be important. If negative talk is preventing one from improving, that’s one thing, if it motivates one to improve, that’s another.

    Denial can be dangerous to our health.

  20. Maren says:

    It’s hard to stop talking/thinking that to yourself though.. when it’s genuinely what you feel. It takes time to stop putting yourself down.

  21. Jannie Funster says:

    Hi. I think any negative self-talk is so powerfully impactful.

    But positive talk to ourselves can move mountains.

    I am happy you lost your weight, but I can see from the pictures you have always been beautiful.

  22. I❤2Eat says:

    I completely agree – it has to be a conscious effort to put the brakes on “fat talk” when it happens. Sometimes, when I’m “feeling fat” it’s very hard for me to take compliments, like you said in your description about your eyes…it is difficult to get into a positive state of mind when you’re overall feeling negative about yourself. But if it doesn’t come from within, you can’t expect others to see what’s positive in you. Thanks for a great post, and I must congratulate you on doing such a fantastic job with your weight loss, Diane!

Leave a Reply