Eating food is an experience most individuals collectively share in each day. For many, eating is part of a routine and something they need to survive. For some, it is an enjoyable part of work, school, or home life. Food can be a source of tradition, comfort, joy, and socialization. However, for many individuals (of all ages and genders), eating, buying, or choosing food can feel scary, threatening, and overwhelming.
Because many people have a complicated relationship with food and their body, it is best to avoid making comments about weight, body size, or food intake. When someone comments on their own body weight (ie. I look so fat!) many people are quick to say, “You are not fat, you are beautiful.” This conveys a message that living in a larger body weight is bad and invalidates their experience.
Here are some additional common phrases that perpetuate this idea of diet culture and fat phobia. These are phrases that have been normalized in a weight-fixated society. Ultimately, making comments about or to someone living in a larger body weight or a smaller body weight, are equally harmful.
- How are you getting seconds? Where do you put all that food?
- We are being so bad today! Note: Food is just fuel and does not have an inherent moral value.
- You look like you’ve lost weight; you look great. Note: If someone has lost or gained weight, it could be due to depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, or a medical illness.
- Are you sure you want to wear that outfit? These pants might be more flattering.
- They would be so much prettier if they just lost some weight.
- They are good-looking for a fat person.
- Have you tried this diet?
- Today is my cheat day.
- I feel fat. Note: Fat is not a feeling, nor is it synonymous for feeling bad or gross.
- You shouldn’t be eating carbs or sugar. Note: The word “should” often produces shame.
It is okay not to feel positive about your body every day. The goal is to have a healthy relationship with your body. This might mean honoring your body when hungry and appreciating the many things it can do for you. Through body neutrality, humans can think of their body not as something that defines their worth, but rather, as something that can bring curiosity and nourishment. Above all, thinness does not equate to worthiness.
If you would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics, such as the one featured in this blog, and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.
Written by Liz, Mental Health Counseling Master’s Level Intern
Wheeler, N. (2020, March 25). Body Neutrality. Montana State University: Office of Health