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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Does ‘Fat Talk Free Day’ help anyone?

Things that are not worth talking about: Justin Bieber’s plans to debut a nail polish line, Facebook updates about other people’s relationships, how fat you think you are.

Wednesday was “”Fat Talk Free Day”” on campus, which was part of a nationwide effort by the Reflections Body Image Program. The event, intended to call attention to the prevalence of eating disorders, asked women to stop using “”fat talk”” by avoiding saying things like, “”I’m too fat”” and “”Look how fat she is.””

Events like “”Fat Talk Free Day”” are supposed to promote healthy self-esteem and body acceptance. That’s awesome, but I’m also really glad they’re denouncing incredibly boring conversation. Now teach me how to respond to fat talk. More specifically, I’d like to learn how to avoid responding to it without being called a bitch for it.

“”Look how fat she is”” is really just code for, “”Am I as fat as her?”” Everyone who says, “”I’m fat”” can expect to hear “”you’re not fat”” in response. I get it. People have body image issues and insecurities. They have feelings. Those feelings are fragile, and there are lots of statistics demonstrating the connection between eating disorders and fragile feelings.

But sometimes I just don’t care how big your feelings are. Your feelings are complicating what is actually a very simple dilemma: Your body is not too big for your pants, your pants are too small for you. Go a size up and stop talking about it.

We can try to make the world “”fat talk free”” by telling everyone how lovely they are, how amazing womanly curves are, how real beauty comes from the inside. But, as a teenage girl who has been conditioned to mindlessly parrot those responses to “”fat talk,”” I know I’m going to have the same frustrating conversation next week. Women have become too accustomed to a scripted conversation about how they aren’t fat and you’re not fat and real women have curves.

Telling a woman she’s not fat after she asks if she’s fat is entirely pointless now. You’re just going to have the same conversation with her as soon as she tries on the next pair of pants.

Rather than try to tell women not to use “”fat talk”” to discuss their bodies, or anyone else’s, we ought to just stop validating it when they do. Bluntly put, I’m tired of letting people think I care about their whining.

Yes, I understand eating disorders are very serious. People should feel good about their bodies. But I rarely feel like I’ve accomplished anything by coddling someone’s feelings using default answers like, “”No, don’t worry about it. Your butt looks great in those jeans.””

Sometimes, instead of telling you just how gorgeously not fat you are, I’d rather just force you to watch me devour, without any shame, guilt or fear of judgment, a really great burger and fries.

Call it tough love. Or maybe it would just be mean. Either way, it’s something you haven’t heard hundreds of times, so maybe you’ll actually pay attention.

 

— Kristina Bui is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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