What’s the Skinny on “Fat Talk”?

In case you missed it, the cameras were rolling at the APS 23rd Annual Convention in Washington, DC. Watch Taylor Locker from the University of Florida present her poster session research on “Fat Talk”: Who’s Doing It, Why, and With Whom.

Locker and coauthor Kelly Graf interviewed 197 undergraduates—152 women and 45 men—about self-reported use of fat talk, or self-disparaging comments about one’s body to represent and foster body dissatisfaction. Eighty percent of women and approximately half of men were able to recall at least one time in which they explicitly criticized their bodies for being “too fat” or expressed a desire to lose weight. The researchers noticed several overarching motivations for using fat talk, including the belief that using fat talk would “motivate” them to change their diet and/or exercise patterns and the desire to express feelings such as shame, guilt, and fear. Analysis also suggested that women hear far more fat talk than men: both men and women are more likely to use fat talk around women and least likely to use fat talk in mixed-gender groups.

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