"I feel fat today" is a phrase commonly uttered. I mean, think about how many times you've said it in the last week. Maybe you didn't say those exact words, but maybe it went something like this:
- "Look at my thighs!"
- "These jeans fit too snug."
- "I need to lose some weight"
- "I need to start watching what I'm eating/I need to start exercising more"
The list goes on and on. But, the reality of the situation is simple and makes our statements seem quite silly- fat is not a feeling. Sure, fat might be an adjective. It might be used to describe something. But when we say things like "I feel fat", what we're really saying is "I'm sad", "I'm feeling guilty", "I'm feeling insecure". We're hiding what we're really feeling- for some more culturally acceptable statement. We stand around in circles gossiping with friends, and as soon as someone says "I'm feeling SO fat today!", we know that the rest of the group will chime in with "Of course you're not!". It's a way to get reassurance. It's a way to get attention. It's a way to get sympathy and manipulate the situation. But, it's not healthy.
When we engage in these types of behaviors- when we "fat talk"- we're more likely to be depressed. We're more likely to have a distorted body image- even if we're at a healthy weight. It's not healthy! We're not doing ourselves any favors, but we're also harming the people around us. 81% of third graders are afraid of being fat. Where do you think they get this fear from? Sure, maybe some of it comes from the media, but it also comes from internal influences- parents, friends, teachers. When our friends and family hear us constantly complaining about our body, they are more likely to start questioning their bodies. It's the common "Well, if you're fat, then I must be really overweight!" Fat talk rubs off on the people around us. It spreads the negativity.
So, maybe instead of trying to fill in conversation gaps and get attention with "I feel so fat today", we should start talking about what's really going on. Do you really feel "fat", or are you overwhelmed with the amount of work you have to do? Do you really feel "fat", or are you upset about a relationship? What would happen if we started naming our feelings, started being more open about how we really felt rather than hiding behind a mask of "I just feel fat today". Fat is not a feeling. It's time we stop treating it like one. Fat is a state- it's neither good nor bad. Constant cycling through "fat talk" and dieting won't bring true joy. It won't fill up the gap. Being "thin" won't solve all of your problems.
Engaging in destructive conversations won't really make you feel better in the end. Ephesians 4:29 says that "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Fat talk and fat shaming does not build others up- and it doesn't really benefit us either. If you're struggling with feeling overwhelmed- talk about that! Find friends that will build you up, encourage you, and not judge you. But, don't blame your feelings on "fat". It's just not helpful.