US/World

"Girl, Shut It!" Study Finds People Don't Like Women Who 'Fat Talk'

"Fat Talk"
Psychologists find that women who make self-disparaging remarks about their body image are less liked by friends. Paramount Pictures

It's official. No one likes "fat talk."

A new study from Notre Dame suggests that "fat talk," or those everyday statements that voice dissatisfaction about bodily appearance, eating, and exercise, is very unpopular among college-aged women.

"It had been theorized (and is still assumed) that women and girls engage in fat talk, partly at least, to initiate or enhance their social bonds with other women and girls," said lead author Alexandra Corning, director of Notre Dame's Body Image and Eating Disorder Lab, via email to Medical Daily. "This study does not test that assumption, but it instead asks women how much they like a fat-talker."

Over 100 female undergrads were shown a series of photos of thin or overweight women participating in fat talk. The women in the photos who engaged in fat talk were rated as significantly less likeable, regardless of whether or not they were overweight.

"The take-home message is that if women engage in fat talk in the hope of enhancing their social bonds, their attempts may have the effect of backfiring," said Corning.

The behavior is pervasive among women, with one study estimating that nine out of 10 women are active fat talkers.

"Though it has become a regular part of everyday conversation, 'fat talk' is far from innocuous," according to Dr. Corning. "It is strongly associated with, and can even cause, body dissatisfaction, which is a known risk factor for the development of eating disorders."

The University of Chicago is promoting a pledge to end fat talk, and Dr. Corning feels her findings can aid national efforts to cut down "fat talking" on college campuses.

This, however, is only the beginning, as she plans to follow-up with more research on this topic.

Dr. Corning presented this study at the Midwestern Psychological Association annual conference last week.

 

 

Loading...