The Skinny of #EndFatTalk

Project Heal is a great organization that helps individuals who experience eating disorders and spreads awareness on eating disorder. Project Heal is opening chapters across the USA and Toronto, where I live, even has one. I frequently post their pictures and share their articles but this week I have been struggling with Project Heal.

The organization has named this week Fat Talk Free Week (#EndFatTalk). This week is to promote changing your inner dialogue from one of hate to one of love.

Now, where I am finding the problem with this campaign is in the people Project Heal have chosen to use to promote the message of ending fat talk; a large majority (if not all from what I can see) are by medical definition, and most likely by societies definition, are physically skinny. While I do not believe this was done on purpose or with malicious intent (Project Heal is not about that) the images in their advertising does need to be more inclusive and representative.

Eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia specifically) are already heavily stereotyped as being something that skinny girls/women do. There are in fact many individuals who experience eating disorders who are by medical definition overweight. These individuals are usually not taken seriously because they do not “look” how we imagine someone with an eating disorder should look. Also, there is a difference between fat talk when you are skinny and fat talk when you are actually “fat”.

I recognize that in many ways I cannot speak fully on this topic. I have never experienced an eating disorder and I am a skinny person. I do experience fat talk in my mind but I can push it aside. I do not want to speak for anyone, I just want to point out what I noticed and share what I do know. The face of mental illness and struggle is extremely specific. It tends to be white, middle to upper class and with a society accepted look (even I fit this description). We seem to be a society that empathize with skinny and condemns fat. I believe that in order to #EndFatTalk we need to end #FatShaming.


6 thoughts on “The Skinny of #EndFatTalk

  1. I think what we really need is so much more expansive and inclusive. As the wonderful gal from The Editing Process pointed out (and I know she’s not the first), it seems to be a battle of skinny versus curvy.

    I noticed probably at least five years ago there was a huge push of “real women have curves,” with pictures of like Marilyn Monroe. Which is excellent for those who needed that role model. . . But it immediately implied to me that if you were skinny without curves — and let’s illustrate with one of Ms. Monroe’s contemporaries who has become a fad, Audrey Hepburn — you were not a so-called “real woman.”

    Really? I don’t know why these campaigns feel the need for a foil, a contrast that one way or another is going to hurt or alienate another group in their desire to promote acceptance for its counterpoint.

    Ms. Monroe was a real woman, Ms. Hepburn (with all of her angles!) was a real woman, you are a real woman, I am a real woman, so is my next door neighbor. We’re all in this together, and there is no blanket definition of what your body should look like. Focusing too much on the one side or another, how about we focus on the brain and the heart that are in these bodies, regardless of shape?

    (Sorry for my mini-rant. I just don’t understand why a constructive dialogue cannot be held that doesn’t focus one group as “better” and one as “worse.” And that’s not at all a reflection on your piece, you seemed to be going for more inclusiveness, which is one reason I think you’re fantastic. It just all kind of boiled over for me.)

    • I agree with you and your mini rant is appreciated!

      It has been about either/or. While we will probably always hear more fat shaming then skinny shaming, the message can still come across as “your body will never be good enough”. The “ideal” woman is fake and unachievable (and also stupid). If you are a woman (or a man) your very existence is an example of the ideal!

      Of course, some people want to change their bodies and that is entirely up to them. In some cases your health is at risk (and this is true for under and overweight). There is so much emphasis on weight loss and weight gain that we’re forgetting that we need to be HEALTHY!

      Thanks for commenting!! xoxo

  2. There was a small study done many years ago (at least 20) in a remote area of the rain forest. The study was to see how indigenous girls react to the Fashion industry in the US. This group studied girls of one tribe. My facts may be off because it been many years since I read the study, but the gist of it is what i am trying to convey.

    First they showed the girls as they were before the study. They were were all very different shapes and sizes and they had no issues with body shape (some were by our societies way of thinking, a bit fat adn some very thin and all sizes in between) and were all seemingly very happy and never talked about their size because they never thought about it. It was a non-issue.

    Seventeen magazine and mirrors were then introduced to the girls and told that these girls in the mag were the most beautiful in America. It was not long before the indigenous girls began comparing themselves to the girls in the pictures; interest in fashion and eating disorders started. The girls started wanting to be thin and “pretty” like American girls.
    Let the brain washing begin.

    This is why I do blame the makers of magazines and all media that promote skinny as beautiful. Skinny/thin is fine if you are naturally that way, but some women and girls are just more full figured then others and we need embrace ALL shapes and sizes as beautiful and make health a primary goal, not size.
    There are plenty of thin people who cannot climb a flight of stair without getting winded, they do not get any exercise, this is just as dangerous as being obese because our heart is the biggest muscle. It is a muscle that needs to be used in order to have good health.

    It used to be that we looked up to honest, smart, ethical, people, but now we seem to have stopped admiring honorable people. Instead, we look up to the out going, energetic, happy, thin, “beautiful”, people. I call them “salesmen”. We have become a very shallow society and it sickens me.

    We make a focus of what some star looks like on the beach that, “should not be wearing a bikini”. Why do we think it is OK to hurt people based on what they look like? Media has decided that it is OK to chase people in cars to get bad pictures of people ~~ people die from it and few care. Meaning, they get mental health problems like anorexia, phobias, fear, and more. Think Princess Diana and how they chased her to her death. I have never been able to understand the fun in being cruel and heartless.

    I’m sort of sorry for my rant but i HATE how our society has changed in this area. As advanced as we humans supposedly are, we sure are a bunch of insensitive creatures at times.

    I’d love to see Seventeen and mags like them be put behind the shelves like Playboy and Hustler. They are not appropriate for young minds any more then drugs.

    Oooh I am feeling an even bigger rant coming . . . talk to you later! 🙂 Don’t get me started! HAHA!!!

    • My boyfriend’s grandma actually tells me to gain weight. Where she’s from (Romania) being skinny means you’re sick and being fat means you’re healthy. I don’t understand who got to decide all of this!?

  3. I’m clinically depressed, among other things, and I eat when depressed. So, I’m fat. Very. I’ve been depressed a long time. My genetics predispose me to be an alcoholic. Relatives drank when they were depressed. I get my refined carbs other ways. And the kicker is that in our society today, with Fat being the last acceptable discrimination*, I would have more empathy if I came out as a drunk than I do visibly wearing my addiction/disorder.

    *What I mean by “last acceptable discrimination” is that if you take all of the Fat jokes, the snarky comments, the job discrimination (very real), and substitute “black” or “gay” or whatever, you’d have your head handed to you on a platter. But say Fat and you’re a laugh riot.

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