Fat talk. It is something that almost every woman can say that they have engaged in at one time or another. As a therapist for teens, I am learning that this is also common among young women.
When meeting with a client, I ask her what she thinks about her body. She will usually say that she thinks it is “okay” and there are things that she would change about it. When I ask her if she and her friends talk about their bodies, it is always a “yes.” I ask the client to give me an example of the conversation she has with her friends.
The conversations may start out like this: Friends are sitting at the lunch table together. One says “I look so fat today. I shouldn’t be eating this.” Her friends then proceed to flood her with compliments, hoping this will help the friend feel better. Often, the friends will take it further and state, “Well, if you think you are fat, then I must be a whale!” or “Well, if you think you are fat, you don’t want to see me naked.”
This conversation can go on and on, each young woman trying to provide facts for how they’re fatter or uglier. No one walks away from this conversation feeling good. Instead, it normalizes the competition between young women on physical appearance and trashing one’s temple, their body.
Rather than these conversations being the norm, I encourage my clients to engage in positive body talk. I ask them to be observers for a week and notice how often these conversations occur in their circle of friends. I also ask them to take note of how they feel when they are observers of these discussions. Once they accomplish this, I give them tools to divert the conversation away from body shaming and turn it into body love.
Below are 5 tools to turn body shaming into body love.
When hearing a friend talk negatively about her body, tell the friend that she is amazing.
After telling the friend she is amazing, acknowledge that she is hurting and it is easy to target her body when she is hurting.
Tell the friend that you don’t want to continue talking negatively about her body.
Ask her what she needs from you.
When she shares what she needs, tell her how much you care about her and proceed with a conversation that involves body positivity.
I don’t know about you, but this conversation feels much better than a conversation about how ugly my stretch marks are or how gross my legs look in shorts. Instead of competing for attention through negative body talk, encouragement and love is more empowering.
We all want to be heard. We all want to be empowered. In empowering one another, we become empowered. Choose the path less traveled. Choose the path of empowerment and self-love.
The warrior within me honors the warrior within you!
About the Author: Amber R. SEATER is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a Professional Counselor serving teens in Missouri and Kansas, USA. Ms. Seater has a passion for helping teens, especially teen girls, become empowered. She acknowledges the impact that society, especially social media, has on young women’s body image and dreams/goals for the future and she utilizes different therapeutic techniques that involve the mind, body and spirit. This includes yoga, meditation, hiking, art, sand tray, and discussions about nutrition. Read more…