By Valerie Minard
“Fat talk” we’ve all done it. Either the silent conversation we have when we look in the mirror critiquing our own physique. Or, the “helpful advice” we have received or might have given someone else about the few extra pounds gained. As harmless as all this might seem, researchers have found that that kind of “helpful advice” can actually backfire and increase the chance of obesity. Why? Because the put downs are more likely to turn their recipients to seek consolation in comfort food – possibly adding more pounds to the body.
“Fat talk” coined by researchers in 1994, describes the self-deprecating talk and fear, that women in particular (of all ages), have about their own body, food, or eating. The good news is we don’t need to accept for ourselves or others that negative model that may lead to overeating, guilt, poor self-image, or mental health issues. Those negative thought patterns can be broken.
But, “how?” you might ask. Well, my own experience tells me, it takes reframing how we see ourselves from a view of the body alone to a spiritual perspective.
Just like Michelangelo looked “inside” the marble to reveal the sculpture of David he carved, we need to to choose what model we want to carve of ourselves. I’m not talking about the impossibly skinny models that are in magazines, but the model or spiritual qualities we hold in thought. Health and Christian author Mary Baker Eddy says, “Deducing one’s conclusions as to man from imperfection instead of perfection, one can no more arrive at the true conception or understanding of man, and make himself like it, than the sculptor can perfect his outlines from an imperfect model, or the painter can depict the form and face of Jesus, while holding in thought the character of Judas.”
Why is this important? Because studies show that a positive self-image (which we can gain through spiritual identification) can lead to health and self-control. I know this because I struggled to lose weight while in graduate school. But, instead of going on a crash diet, I decided to make a daily practice to identify myself in terms of qualities I reflected from the Divine. Yes, I did try to eat healthier and more balanced meals. But, I think the key was really that I regularly affirmed that I was always loved, lovable, beautiful, and loving because Divine Love is the source of my being. This empowered me, made me feel satisfied, and helped me resist reaching for comfort food– and bit by bit the weight came off.
Does this mean I never indulge in “fat talk” or it’s counterparts any more? No. But, right identification helps me recognize when I’m veering off course; reminds me those are not the ideas I should include in the model I sculpt of myself; and enables me to toss them out.
So when “Fat talk” rears its ugly head, let’s vow to turn it around and talk and live the qualities we really want to see in our life and cherish for others. And don’t be surprised if weight is no longer a problem and you discover how beautiful you already are.
Valerie is a health and spirituality blogger. She is also a Christian Science practitioner in Collingswood, New Jersey.