Editorial: Banish that fat critic in 2022 

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald

Column By Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin

Make 2022 the year of kicking the inner fat critic’s voice out of your brain, body, and soul. That pesky and persistent self-talk that shames and blames you in front of mirrors and behind closed doors. Constant comparing to others – weight, shape, size. Kick those faulty beliefs to the curb once and for all.  

I know what your first question is – how does a person do that? Awareness is key. Start with cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions. Identify the hurtful beliefs inside your own brain. Understand the emotions that accompany condemning thoughts. Noticing without judging. Begin to treat yourself with compassion and kindness by replacing the inner fat critic with an inner supporter – an internal coach that cheers for you.  

And think about how you perceive change. Making a change is scary, but necessary. “Hello change. Come on in so we can chat.” Change is not your nemesis. The goal is to change thoughts which can change how you feel about your body. Halt the hating of your body.  

Hit the mental pause button and notice the negative thought. A thought is different from emotion. Notice your fat talk with awareness. Disconnect the emotion from the fat talk by breathing and wondering why you are so unkind to your body. Feelings can be fickle at times.  

Say the following daily: “I will stop being judge, jury, and executioner of body-shaming and self-shaming. I will stop being the enemy of my own body. I will stop obsessing over the number on the scales.”  

Befriend your body. Ban the body battle. Your body is not your archenemy. Perceiving and believing that worth is determined by weight loss or weight gain is mentally and emotionally exhausting. Rejecting your body causes internal conflict.  

“Fat Talk: A Feminist Perspective,” a 2019 book by Denise Martz conceives that “Women have unintentionally become their own worst enemies through their engagement in “fat talk” – critical dialogue about one’s own physical appearance, and “body snarking” or criticism towards other women’s bodies.”  

The term “fat talk” was coined in 1994 by researchers after observing how middle school girls talked about their bodies. And younger girls listen to the conversations of older girls and adult women.  

Observe your own fat talk around other females. How do you break the cycle of conversation embedded in negative words and beliefs about body weight, shape, and size? The first step is awareness. The next step is changing how you think about it. It will take time to change negative brain patterns. A final step is educating your friends and coworkers. “Wow ladies, we talk a lot about how much we dislike feeling fat.” Is it just harmless banter?  

Say the following daily: “My physical body houses my soul and spirit. My body is a container for my brain and organs. My body carries around my internal self. I will honor my body while working on making my body healthier.” Not making the body skinnier.  

Activate change. No more watching TV reality shows with air-brushed faces, deceptive camera lenses, and unrealistic human bodies. And definitely do not view any of The Bachelorette or The Bachelor shows. Acknowledge the toxic culture of fat discrimination on TV and social media.  

Make 2022 the year of change – changing how you think and feel about your body. And replacing fat talk with body kindness talk.  

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, opinion-editorial columnist, counselor, and resident of Ohio.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.  

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