Reflections offers week without ‘fat talk’
You shouldn’t hear anyone saying “I want to lose three pounds” or “Is butter a carb?” this week, as college campuses across America participate in the national “Fat Talk Free Week.”
Sponsored at Washington University by Reflections, a student group aiming to promote awareness about eating disorders and body image, the goal of the week of Oct. 22 is to eliminate weight-related talk from conversations.
Students are encouraged to sign an online pledge agreeing to eliminate “fat talk” from conversations, to strive for healthy lifestyles and to celebrate things in life that don’t pertain to looks or superficial appearance. Fat talk deals with any conversation centered on body image, ranging from sentences such as “Do I look fat in this outfit?” to “You look great, have you lost any weight?”
“People don’t really think a lot about what they say and a lot of the time people tend to get roped into conversations that deal with body image in a negative way,” sophomore Antea DeMarsilis, co-chair of Fat Talk Free Week, said. “This week is a good way to just remind people that constantly fixating on weight isn’t healthy.”
Reflections is tabling in the Danforth University Center all week, giving away free stickers and water bottles promoting the week as well as selling “Love Your Body” tank-tops. Students also can send free “compliment-grams” to their friends.
On Thursday during lunch hours, the club will be hosting a “Throw Away Fat Talk” event on Mudd Field, during which students are encouraged to share experiences related to fat talk or negative body image and then throw darts and paint-filled balloons on canvas that will become an interactive art piece.
This painting will be displayed Thursday night at a gallery open to all students at 8:00 p.m. in the Millstone Visitors Center in the DUC. Additionally, students can see photo shoot pictures from Wednesday’s event as well as a presentation showing ideals in weight through the ages to see how images of weight have changed in past decades. Students who have received compliment-grams can also pick them up at the event.
Many students have expressed optimism about the goal of the week.
“I have a friend who is obsessed with her body image and is constantly weighing herself and her food,” freshman Arjay Parhar said. “She spent a week without scales or mirrors in a cabin up north where she was basically forced into a fat talk free week. She still looks back on that week as the best week of her life.”
While most students agree that the message behind the week is admirable, some are unsure how effective it will be in the long run.
“I’m not sure if I agree that eliminating talk about body image is the best strategy to raise awareness. To me, it almost feels like you’re avoiding the problem,” senior Lynn Ren said. “Even if people don’t outwardly say hurtful things, it doesn’t change the underlying stereotypes. If nobody is talking about it, then it becomes a taboo subject, which I think works against raising appreciation for body image if anything.”
DeMarsilis explained that the point of the week isn’t to avoid the topic of body image but instead to put it in a more positive light and help people realize that the emphasis should be on what is healthy for a particular person rather than all people living up to a certain standard of thinness.
“I think the timing of this event is especially important because we’ve been here for two months now and pressures kids feel for how they should look have definitely sunk in,” DeMarsilis said. “It’s just that time of year when people may feel more vulnerable. We want the message to hit them now and for them to see how they feel after a week of looking at body image in a positive way.”