Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
International Eating Disorder Referral Organization
5 Ways to Stop Using the F Word
Do you use the “f” word too much? Can you go a week without using the F word? If you're not sure, here is your chance to give it a try.
Think for a moment about how you use the word "fat." Is it one of these three reasons?
1) AS A JUDGMENT: Do you use the “f” word a judgment rather than a description? It's confusing and simply not logical that we use the same word to describe people who are size 2 or 22. How does this make sense?
2) TO COMMUNICATE HOW YOU FEEL: When you say, "I feel fat" many people nod sympathetically. In this context, it is as short hand way of communicating how you feel. It's interesting that we pin insecure and uncomfortable feelings onto our bodies instead of reasons that might really underlie the discomfort.
3) IN COMPARISONS: Do you stand in a circle and bash your body with friends or coworkers? If so you aren't alone. Critically discussing and comparing your body often happens as casually as if talking about the weather. Imagine walking into a crowd and stating that you are happy or comfortable with your body. How would people look at you? It's a shame that it is almost a cultural norm and expected that you be dissatisfied with your body. You may even feel pressure to label your own body with the "f" word even when you aren't by diagnostic standards.
FIVE TIPS TO GET YOU THROUGH A "F" TALK FREE WEEK:
1) Label Emotions. Instead of, "I feel fat," try to be more specific. When you hear yourself saying, "I feel fat," use actual feeling words to describe your emotions like angry, upset or frustrated. You are likely to see that it can be challenging to erase this common phrase.
2) Stop F Talk. When people start to talk negatively about their bodies or get into obsessive diet talk, simply change the topic. Divert. Introduce a more positive conversation. Don't allow F talk to be normal, casual conversation.
3) Don't Ask. Avoid the little phrase our partners hate to hear, "Do I look fat in this?" If you must, a better choice is, "Does this look flattering?"
4) Stop Judging, Be Compassionate. Avoid giving compliments to people who have lost weight. Many people twist positive comments around (ex. what did they think of me before I lost weight?). Also, we don't know if someone has lost weight in truly healthy ways. You may unknowingly be complimenting unhealthy or dangerous behavior. When you use the "f" word to judge, investigate this closely. What do you really feel about this person? Why?
5) Speak Mindfully. Use more mindful words to describe your body. You can do this by observing and describing (I have brown hair). Instead of saying, "I feel fat" when you overeat, say "I feel too full", a more accurate description.
Why is this F word free challenge important? Language impacts behavior. If you call a dandelion a weed versus of flower, it will vary what you do with it. You would throw away the dandelion versus putting a flower into a vase. The same is true with your body. If you call your body fat in a loathing way versus describing it as strong, powerful, curvaceous or other positive words, it will likely impact how you treat your body. Would you take care of and protect something you criticize?
The second reason is that using this word is not helpful and it is damaging to self esteem. Whether you call yourself "f" or someone else, it can trigger a lot of unhealthy behavior particularly for people who have eating problems.
Perhaps we could tweak this challenge a bit. Just begin by being more mindful of the "f" word in general. Pay close attention to how it comes up in conversation. Notice what people do when they hear it. Cringe? Cry? Laugh? Take note of the way people use the word to bash themselves or describe others. I'd also like to extend the same "f" word free challenge to magazines and other media. What would magazines and articles look like if this word was suddenly erased?
Whoever said that "words don't hurt" wasn't factoring in the "f" word. Take this challenge. See how an "f" free world treats you and how other people respond. Have a happy "F Talk Free" week.
From Dr. Susan Albers, the author of the new book 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food. www.eatingmindfully.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author and are presented without editing. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of EDReferral.com, and no official endorsement by EDReferral.com of the opinions expressed herein should be inferred.
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