Fat Talkin’ Role Models

in Fat Talk Free

I am diligently working on the first draft of the second Operation Beautiful book (hello, Starbucks).  So I thought I’d share a wonderful guest post to keep you entertained and get your gears turning. 


Fat Talk is an issue that I hold near and dear to my heart – I always say that if you wouldn’t say it about a friend, you shouldn’t say it about yourself.  Fat Talk is negative self-talk about your body or your abilities.  In fact, the Operation Beautiful movement was born out of a moment of intense ‘Fat Talk’ about my own intellectual abilities.  Fat Talk has nothing to do with how much you weigh or what you look like, but with how you see yourself.  Perhaps the biggest side effect of Fat Talk is how it impacts the people around you, especially if you’re a role model who Fat Talks. 


Kaity emailed me and asked if I’d ever considered exploring the impact of a Fat Talking-parent.  Her guest post was so eloquently written that I just had to share it with you.  I also think her post is important because it speaks to how subtle Fat Talk can be – it doesn’t have to be overtly passive aggressive remarks that sting and haunt you.  Fat Talk can be quiet remarks that add up over time, especially when you’re speaking to an impressionable young girl (or boy).


Here’s Kaity:


Mothers and daughters share one of the strongest, most special bonds in the whole world. Mothers teach their daughters all the secrets to love, life, and happiness, and are always trying their hardest to protect their little girls from the dangers of the big bad monster, known as the real world. But as much as they try to shield their girls from negative images projected by the magazines, and television shows, sometimes they forget the importance of projecting self-love and respect to their daughters.


My mother and I have always had an amazing relationship. Even after she moved to another state for work, we always talked daily, and monthly visits were a must. My mom is a successful and smart woman, and knows the importance of speaking your mind when it comes to getting what you want, and I have looked to her for advice about everything from boys, to prom dresses, and she has the biggest influence on choices I make. 


For as long as I remember, my mother has always engaged in some kind of diet and exercise program. Low-carb, high-protein, fat flushes, and endless workout sessions were always around. Growing up, I would hear my mom constantly put her self down. Talk of how fat she felt that day, or how she really needed to work out longer and harder spilled from her lips, and plagued my mind. She would look at her self in the mirror and say aloud to herself how she hated her stomach, or her thighs. To me, my mother was strong, beautiful, woman, who used her body to give birth to 3 children who looked to her for everything, but hearing her negatively talk about something I thought was so outstanding really began to affect how I viewed myself. 


When I was 18 years old I began to over-exercise and under-eat. I, like my mother, began to loose sight of the positives, and focus on the negatives. My weight rapidly dropped to an unhealthy 97 pounds, but yet when I looked in the mirror I was still only seeing the things I wanted to fix. I needed help, and I needed it fast, and my mother was the first person to step in and get my body and me repaired. 


In a therapy session during my recovery process, I broke down and revealed to my mom that hearing her put herself down constantly was really having an effect on how I viewed myself. I told her how hard it was listening to someone so beautiful nit-pick every wonderful aspect of their selves. She never knew how much of an effect it was having on me because I was a silent observer; she never realized I would take comments she made about herself so personal.


Through my recovery we both worked on focusing on all the positives. Fat Talk was shown the door and self-appreciation quickly replaced it. We both went through a bit of recovery during the process that was intended solely for me. We now focus on keeping our bodies healthy and strong, through exercise, whole foods, and a ban on all Fat Talk. My mother is my hero and such an inspiration, and I hope she knows how much I look up to her and how much I aspire to be like her. Showing love for your self is one of the most important lessons a mother can teach her daughter. 


Mothers spend so much of their time telling their daughters how proud of them they are, but they can’t forget to show how proud they are of themselves. Moms do some amazing thing, starting with giving life to another human being; not everyone can do that. That right there is enough reason to walk around with that “Queen of the world” attitude. So moms, show your daughters love, and more importantly, show yourself some love, because that respect you project about yourself will shape your girls into some amazing women who are equally amazing as you. 


You can follow Kaity on Twitter or check out her photo blog on Tumlr.  She also just started a blog!


I also wanted to share this video!  I’ve linked it numerous times before but it never loses its impact.

Was your role model a Fat Talker or did she infuse positive self-talk into your thought patterns?  Have you ever approached your mom or a friend about their Fat Talk or stopped your own Fat Talk?



  • Madeleine @ Stepping to the Bright Side January 24, 2011, 12:15 pm

    Growing up, my mom would always tell my sister and me how beautiful we were. Even back in the day when I had a horrible self-imposed haircut and buck teeth like no other. On my first trip home from college, though, she made an ever so casual comment that I was “filling out a bit.” That scared me to no avail and made me SUPER self-conscious. A couple months later, still slightly freaking out and paying great attention to what I ate/ my workout regime, I mentioned the comment to my mom and she apologized profusely. She had NO idea it had affected me that much and immediately took it back, saying it was “filling out for the best,” that the extra weight was good for me. Goes to show: even a seemingly casual comment from a pivotal role model can really effect us as young girls!

  • Kara January 24, 2011, 12:17 pm

    That was well said! I never realized how much BOTH my parents engaged in fat talk until after I moved out. I guess while I was living there it just seemed normal?

    My husband and I have a no negative self talk rule now that we have a baby. Even though she’s only 7 months old, I want to shield her from ever equating self worth with a clothing size. (Ironically, my husband is the only one of us who engaged in the fat talk, a fact that I credit to years of eating disorder therapy on my part)

    • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 12:18 pm

      This is awesome… I love that refuse to speak negativity even if front of a newborn!!!

      • Kara January 24, 2011, 12:22 pm

        Now if I could only get her perpetually dieting grandparents (on both sides) to stop the fat talk, then we’d be golden 🙂

  • Elizabeth@The Sweet Life January 24, 2011, 12:18 pm

    What a great post–I often wonder how I’ll raise children without imparting food issues on them. I’m coming to realize that the only way to do so is to get over them myself!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) January 24, 2011, 12:20 pm

    My grandfather called my mom (who was not over weight) fat cow and me fat cow number two. We are curvy women and this stuck with me then and I still carry it with me now. My mom is very self conscience about her body and all four of us girls (me and my sisters) have the same issues. I have such a great husband that loved me then and loves me now even with all the changes I have been through physically. I think you have to focus on your positives. I am not as curvy now, but oddly enough, I miss my rounder shape in a lot of ways. I think surrounding yourself with positive forces and not focusing on the negatives is very important. Even with having two boys, I never talk negatively about myself and when they question something about themselves (cause boys do it too) I tell them that they shouldn’t focus on something about them being bad, but they are unique. I want my kids to grow up with great self esteem. Always positive forces!

  • Kristy @ KristyRuns January 24, 2011, 12:21 pm

    My mom was a “fat talker” and still is despiste her slender and beautiful physique. For some reason, I think I’ve escaped the doom that is “fat talking” and refuse to ever say such things around my children. I want them to see me as a strong, passionate, athletic woman who loves herself. I wish my mom could see what I see…

  • Bethany @ More Fruit Please January 24, 2011, 12:22 pm

    Wow, very well written Kaity! My mom, as well, was always on some sort of diet – Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, etc. As I moved out of my preteen years, my mother’s attitude toward her body and food definitely started rubbing off on me. I’ve never really stopped to think how things might have been different had my mom’s attitude been different. And Caitlin, I love your line that if we wouldn’t say something about a friend, then we shouldn’t say it about ourselves.

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) January 24, 2011, 12:23 pm

    I am proud to say that I am FINALLY starting to love my body and have brought my fat talk down dramatically! Thinking back to where I was in the summer, constantly calling myself fat and eating less than 800 calories a day, and where I am today is night and day. There are days when I still put myself down, but those days are becoming more and more rare! I am also making more of an effort to end fat talking along my friends, sorority sisters, and cousins.

  • Michelle January 24, 2011, 12:23 pm

    This is a great post and one i’m debating emailing to my friend who is trying to have a baby. She’s the queen of negative self talk to the point where it makes me uncomfortable to be around her sometimes. I’ve told her that like it or not, 2011 is going to be the year of self love and i’m not enabling her to think like that about herself anymore. This post made me actually worried for any of her future daughters she may have!

    • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 12:26 pm

      Do it… Don’t say you’re scared she’s going to be a bad mom, but maybe you can point out that her Fat Talk makes you uncomfortable and sad. Admit that you do it too sometimes (if you do) so you don’t seem righteous. Also, link to this video.


      • Michelle January 24, 2011, 1:00 pm

        I LOVE that video. I may just send that to her. 🙂 And I think she’s going to be a fantastic mom I just worry about unseen consequences. I also think using myself is a great idea. We’ve been friends for a few years and she’s remarked about the difference she’s seen in me when I decided to get “healthy” for my body AND mind (I used to be my own worst critic too.:)) Thanks!

        • kaity January 24, 2011, 2:42 pm

          do it! Now would be a perfect time for a little lesson in self love before a child becomes a part of the picture..she will find that she feels so much stronger not only for herself but for the future mini-her!

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) January 24, 2011, 12:25 pm

    A great reminder to us all — not to say those things in front our own children but just in front of children in general. Don’t tell kids things like, “Oh, you look so CUTE in that outfit,” because they will think it is their clothes that make them cute.

    I still think it’s possible to raise confident kids who aren’t marred by an obsession with appearances. A healthy, balanced lifestyle is a part of that!

  • Michelle January 24, 2011, 12:28 pm

    I used to complain about being fat ALL THE TIME. That is until my three-year-old daughter got out of the car one day and said “I feel so flat.” I knew exactly what she meant and to say I was horrified would be an understatement. Here was my baby, my perfect child (I’m her mother..I get to think that even though I KNOW she isn’t perfect!)complaining. I don’t even think she knew what she was talking about, but I made a promise to myself that day that I would never speak like that in front of her again. My girl is eleven now, and we talk a lot about being healthy and strong, eating what’s good for us, proper portion sizes, etc. I still have a ways to go in my healthy journey, but my girl, she is a blue belt in karate, is healthy, strong, and happy and has NEVER refered to herself as fat.

  • Clare January 24, 2011, 12:28 pm

    This is so true, thank you for writing it. My biggest struggle is not talking the talk, it’s feeling truly worth of praise, respect, or admiration. I know I am only giving it lip service, and that’s what I need to work on!

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good January 24, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Thanks to Kaity for sharing. I have a daughter and a son, and I definitely don’t want to expose either of them to “fat talk.” I always try to put the emphasis on doing things that are good for us – we are active because it is fun and our bodies are healthier when we are active, we eat foods that nourish our bodies, etc. Regardless of my impact on my kids, I don’t believe in “going on a diet.” I think we need to focus on a healthy lifestyle that we can maintain, while recognizing that no one is perfect. If we have a bad day (or week, or season…), just start again with better choices.

    I do not remember my mom talking down about herself or anyone else. I feel that my mom was only encouraging to her kids. That didn’t stop me from being unsatisfied with my own appearance, but I’ve come to give more thought to what my body can do, rather than what it looks like. Sure, I like to look my best, but it’s not the most important thing.

  • Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries January 24, 2011, 12:30 pm

    This was so well written! It is also something that I can relate to painfully well. My mother, in my opinion, is the strongest, most beautiful woman in the world. She is who I turn to in a time of need, and the person I share my happiest moments with. My mother has never, ever once put me down or said a negative thing about me – yet she is the worst Fat Talker I know. It was because of her horrible self-image that I began criticizing myself at such a young age. I thought, “If someone so perfect sees herself so negatively, I don’t even come close!” She’s taught me such a valuable lesson – that putting yourself down can absolutely influence the way someone else views herself. I’m a work-in-progess with ending Fat Talk in my life, and it’s been a wonderful experience! Thank you, Kaity and Caitlin for sharing this story.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday January 24, 2011, 12:31 pm

    Wow, this was a really emotional post. It got me a little teary-eyed.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Kelly January 24, 2011, 12:34 pm

    My mom is a big “fat talker” it’s so infuriating. I definitely blame her for the issues I had when I was younger, she still does it now. When she picked me up at the end of my freshman year of college she grabbed my side and told me I gained the freshman 15. Something I will never forget.

    • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 12:35 pm

      Stuff like that is so painful. I think it’s so important to accept that some people just have emotional limitations.

  • Nicole (I have trouble with forward motion) January 24, 2011, 12:37 pm

    My mom didn’t start fat talk until I was about 20, or maybe she had been doing it and I hadn’t noticed- I guess I should specify the fat talk was about her, NOT me. I was never overly worried about my weight until then, and since I’ve been struggling to lose weight/keep it off. Right now I’m at my highest weight ever (which is 35 lbs more than when all this started), and I feel really crappy about it. Looking back, I wonder if her attitude caused the shift in how I view my body.

    What’s worse is that she finally lost a bunch of weight last year, but not in a healthy way- she basically ate once a day and overexercised. I feel like I’m viewed as weak by others because I can’t commit to that and just “get it done.” Even if I could, there’s no way to return to a normal eating pattern without gaining some of the weight back.

    I’m usually a pretty positive person, but weight always at the forefront of my mind, which I hate. I love reading your blog (and other healthy living blogs), and I find it inspiring, but I still struggle to get a handle on food/exercise. Mostly I eat healthy, but if I get my hands on sugar, it’s a free for all that is hard to stop. As of last Friday, I’m taking a hiatus from baking sweets and bread so that they’re not an accident waiting to happen. So far so good! I haven’t craved any of that stuff since then! Baby steps, I guess.

  • Lu January 24, 2011, 12:37 pm

    I have to get so much better about the Fat Talk. I’m the most hurtful person in the world to myself. My mom is a Fat Talker. She constantly fears gaining weight, so I, of course, did exactly that. I liked this post. I’d like for you to tackle when the opposite happens. As in mom is skinny, daughter is not.

  • Jennie @ Designed to be Fit January 24, 2011, 12:45 pm

    My mother was very similar to this. She always told my sister and I how beautiful we were, but never said anything positive about herself!

  • Marie-JourneytoBodyZen January 24, 2011, 12:48 pm

    My mom was also a Fat Talker. I don’t think she even realized it or how it affected me, but at one point I was about 25 lbs more than my healthy weight and she definitely made sure I was aware of it! It wasn’t always words either, sometimes it was just a “look” I got if I chose to have some ice cream or a heavy sign at eating some chips. It’s definitely made me more aware of my words and my body language. Great post!

  • DadHTP January 24, 2011, 12:49 pm

    excellent guest post!

  • Anne @thefitbridesmaid January 24, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Do we have the same mother? It really stresses me out when I am visiting her, and I am constantly looking at her food choices and judging them, as she is most likely doing to mine.

    Perhaps I should have a talk with her, too.

  • Ilana January 24, 2011, 12:58 pm

    My mom was anorexic when she was in her late teens and early 20’s, and I think because of that she grew up to be aware what to say and not to say in front of me. I grew up without fat talk, not a fat talker, especially because I’m a skinny kid anyway, and I was very frustrated by my friends constantly discussing their weight and size – I genuinely didn’t understand why it mattered. Now I understand most of them learned it from their mothers, at home – and eventually I developed into doing it, myself, just to fit in, because that was the biggest topic of discussion. NOW I don’t let my friends discuss it at all – when the talk turns to “losing weight” I tune out, or sometimes I get into how dieting won’t get you anywhere, how you have to eat the right kinds of whole foods – which, of course, no one wants to hear (my favorite sound bite? “You have to eat to lose weight.”)

    I work with students from elementary school to high school. With my high school girls, I definitely do a lot of work in self-image, but it needs to start younger because they start to learn it as early as elementary school. One of my EIGHT YEAR OLDS frequently gets upset in our groups because she can’t eat the snack because her mom says so – and oh I’ve heard her mom go on and on about weight and diet and fat. It makes me so sad for her, and I wish there were something I could do.

  • Addi January 24, 2011, 1:04 pm

    I absolutely love this post. My mom has always been an inspiration to me in so many ways including the healthy way she treats her body. I remember her and my dad doing the atkins thing and a few other fad diets growing up but nothing too drastic. I do remember her making one comment when I was starting to go through puberty that she noticed my hips were growing and that I might need to start being more conscience of what I eat. That one simple suggestion really affected me more than she ever realized. I’m sure that if I brought it up now she would start crying and apologizing profusely. She has already apologized multiple times for if she has had any part in my anorexia (which I am now recovering from)so I feel no need to bring it up. But this post is so spot on about how big an effect mothers have on their daughters–which is often a lot more than they realize. My mom and I now refuse to engage in any sort of fat talk and call out other friends and family members when they start to. Caitlin, I am wondering if you’d ever consider doing a post about Barbies other unrealistically proportioned dolls and the effects they could have on young girls’ body image? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and as much as I loved playing with Barbies in my youth, I’m not sure if I’d want my future daughter to because of this reason. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

  • nicole January 24, 2011, 1:05 pm

    Aw, my old sorority does do a great job with the fat talk free week. I’ve seen the video before but it still has such an important message and is still done so well. This is a great post!

  • Carpensm @ A Life Without Ice Cream January 24, 2011, 1:09 pm

    Great guest post and such an important issue. There are so many images that effect our self image as we grow up but I think nothing can be as helpful to overcome those images as having a strong role model at home.

    I’m so happy that you and your mother were able to move beyond “fat talk” and set amazing examples!

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Kelly January 24, 2011, 1:11 pm

    My mom was and is definitely a fat talker and it negatively impacted my own self esteem growing up. I have a better handle on it today. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I don’t want to be this for my future daughter (if I have one). I want to show her how to have positive body image and self esteem by being a role model for her.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 24, 2011, 1:23 pm

    Wow – that was an incredible email. I think mothers have an enormous effect on their daughter’s self image and self love!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat January 24, 2011, 1:32 pm

    Although I didn’t really notice it when I was little, my mum certainly is a fat talker now. I think it’s come as a result of her family’s constant obsession and attention to weight. Now that I’m older and have what I feel is a very positive self image, I am able to see past it and (usually) change the subject. I hope to be a very positive influence as a mum some day and teach my daughters the same positive messages that Katy has discussed. Great post! 🙂

  • Hillary January 24, 2011, 1:33 pm

    No one really fat talked in my house, but I definitely fat talked about MYSELF a lot. I’ve been thinking lately about the future and when I have kids, and how I want to be a role model for them. I want to impart my philosophy about healthy eating and being active to them at a very early age, so that it becomes a natural part of their lives, but I never want to come off as judgmental or obsessive about it, either. I know that I walk a very fine line with that balance in my own life, so it will be a constant challenge to keep myself in check!

  • Erin January 24, 2011, 1:40 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful post!
    Thankfully my mother has always been positive. She supports and encourages me no matter what. When I started to gain some weight a few years ago, she never made a comment to me about it. She knew I was struggling with my weight and didn’t need the extra pressure.

    My mother-in-law is the complete opposite. Thankfully, she had 2 boys because I constantly hear fat talk come from her mouth. Anytime we are together, I get the run down of who she knows that “got fat” and who is “way too skinny”. My husband will talk about how his mom was always trying to lose an unhealthy amount of weight when he was living at home. I hate the negativity and could go on and on. I know she probably says stuff behind my back, too which bothers me. I would rather be my current weight and happy than be underweight and miserable.

  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun January 24, 2011, 1:42 pm

    This is one of my biggest goals as a mother – to be a positive example of loving yourself to my children. It is so important.

  • cassie January 24, 2011, 1:48 pm

    i’m in a similar boat to erin, above. i recently went mother of the groom/bridesmaids dress shopping with my soon-to-be mother and sister in law. the sister in law was shocked that i expected her to get measurements taken that day because OMG she still needs to lose 10 pounds. and then my FMIL found a dress but OMG i cant believe it’s a size [blank]. i tried explaining to her how it’s not about the size on the tag, it’s how it fits and how it makes you feel… but she disagreed and said OMG I NEED TO LOSE TEN POUNDS. *sigh*

    that night i went home and called my mom crying. i thanked her for never being that mom who always thought she needed to lose weight. (ironically, my mom was obese for almost my entire life. but never once did i hear her complain about her body.) i am so blessed to have grown up without being surrounded by fat talk.

  • Katie @ Healthy Heddleston January 24, 2011, 1:50 pm

    That was so well written — it’d be great to incorporate into one of your books.

  • Kristen January 24, 2011, 1:50 pm

    Great post, so true!

  • Leanne (For Health's Sake) January 24, 2011, 2:05 pm

    My friends (old friends, no longer in my life) used to do so much fat-talking! It would make me so insecure. They were skinny, beautiful & smart girls… but we’d be getting ready to go out dancing & all they would say is “god, im so fat” or “seriously, i cant believe im 120 pounds”…

    Being a teenager at the time who didn’t know enough about healthy living, I didn’t realize that being taller then them meant I would have a heavier weight then them so I thought to myself “if they think 120 pounds is heavy, then me weighing 140 pounds must be obese!”

    The really crappy thing about the whole situation was that when all of my friends were complaining about a different bodypart, if I didn’t chime in and find something to “hate” about myself… I was looked at as a snob.

    THANK god I found friends who are confident and inspire confidence in me.

  • lucie January 24, 2011, 2:18 pm

    Its funny. My mother, being a single parent, has always enforced positive body talk, despite being on one diet or another, and yet I ended up in a downward spiral of anorexia at age 12 (im now 20) that im still currently battling.

    I loved this post and video!

  • Lori Lynn January 24, 2011, 2:31 pm

    I have always had a “love-hate” relationship with my mother. Her way of trying to “help” me was by using guilt to try and get me to stop binging and eating the unhealthy foods. After having almost 3 years of counseling, I finally figured out why she was doing it, and was able to take a step back away from it. I now understand why she was doing what she was doing, and some of it (not all), was how she was raised by her mother as well.

  • Heather January 24, 2011, 2:38 pm

    My mom is very big in the Fat Talk department. I did not realize how bad it was until I had moved out, and she would call me each week telling me about the new diet she was trying because she was “tired of being fat.”

    It wasn’t until she was visiting me and my daughter (her first grand-baby) that I realized how bad she really is. My baby is not even 3 months old, but as my mother was holding her she was telling my baby “I hope you don’t get fat like your mom and grandma.”

    I was floored. I tried talking to her about it, but she didn’t seem to understand why I was so upset. I’m going to forward her this post because I love how well it’s written, and how well it illustrates that while a mother’s love is unconditional toward their children, their actions toward themselves can be completely oblivious.

  • Lee January 24, 2011, 2:39 pm

    My mother constantly engages in fact talk. Constantly. For my entire life, she’s been on some sort of crazy diet or another. For my wedding, she tried to eat as little as possible the months beforehand. It really has not been good for my self esteem. She’s never talked about my weight in a negative way, even when I was younger and was overweight, but to hear her talk about herself that way has always made me feel like she must think I am fat too. (Neither one of us are overweight.)

  • Jamie January 24, 2011, 2:39 pm

    I am so guilty to doing this constantly. My boyfriend has threatened to throw the scale away because I am so obsessed. My son has started to pick up stuff too… He has said stuff like “that is too fattening” and “I ate too much” (when it was a totally normal portion.) He is only 4 and shouldn’t be thinking about this stuff. This seriously made me tear up and I am going to try harder to keep my fat talk to a minimum!

  • Amara January 24, 2011, 2:41 pm

    I don’t have time to read all of the comments, but I sure appreciated this reminder. I’m a mother of three, and while I’m extra careful not to engage in typical fat talk, in the last 5 years I’ve been always trying to lose weight -not much, just those stupid last 7 vanity pounds. I needed this reminder to be sure and keep my issues to myself. I’m a personal trainer and fitness class instructor so I don’t have a problem with healthy eating –I know what my body needs! But I still am restricting a small amount. I gotta be careful with my non-verbal messages.

  • Jess (Daly Authenticity) January 24, 2011, 2:44 pm


    Love this topic. Such a necessity in our culture.

    Totally off topic, but did you post your training plan for the DC 1/2? I just signed up today, and it will be my first. Just interested to see what you were doing for training!


  • Kathleen January 24, 2011, 2:58 pm

    Love this post. I was fortunate to grow up with very positive role models. My Mom exercised and did diet occasionally, but she didn’t obsess about it or partake in “Fat Talk” – I struggled with my weight growing up, but she encouraged me to play sports, made sure we had healthy meal options and snacks – come to find out, I learned the reason why. Both of my grandmothers were absolutely horrible when it came to “Fat Talk” – they did it to themselves, they said inappropriate things to both my Mom and Dad and it didn’t stop there. I will never forget walking into my grandmother’s house to celebrate her birthday. She gave me a hug and then said, “I like your dress, but it would look prettier if you weren’t so fat. Thin girls look better in their clothes.” – I cried. She then made a snippy comment to my Mom about how she looked like she had packed on a few pounds. My Dad pulled my grandmother aside (His Mom), and told her how he wouldn’t subject his family to such rudeness. He then packed us back into the car and we left for the 2 hour drive back home. I am very blessed to have such amazing parents.

  • Kiran January 24, 2011, 3:07 pm

    Love this post Caitlin. Especially enjoyed reading the mother-daughter email 🙂

  • Errign January 24, 2011, 3:13 pm

    My mother struggles with her own self-image and disordered eating & I think because of that, I resented her comments, her lack of eating, etc. Finally now, she realizes that her behavior is not healthy or helpful to anyone around her & recognizes the healthy relationship with food & exercise that I have. She’s glad that I didn’t fall victim to her constant Fat Talk and respect my body and look at myself with confidence. I loved this post.

  • Allison @ Happy Tales January 24, 2011, 3:20 pm

    This was an amazing well written post! Thank you to Kaity for sharing this… it is such an important message! I myself was not raised in a household where there was fat-talk, and I think that is one of the main reasons why I feel so postively about myself today. I think young women are so impressionabe, and if they see their role model bashing and fat-talking on themselves… there is bound to be a trickle effect.

    This may be one of my favorite posts you’ve done to date. So important, and so powerful!

  • Ashley January 24, 2011, 3:24 pm

    I love my mother but she has done the same things all her lie. She has been on every diet and told me how fat she looks constantly, but shes always told me and my sisters we are gorgeous. I didn’t even think about how she this might have effected me when I suffered with eating disorders she still doesn’t know about.

  • Sarah January 24, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Incredible post. Thank you for sharing your story, Kaity! I will certainly be passing this on!

  • laura January 24, 2011, 3:33 pm

    it kind of bothers me , some girls at my school look like models and it shows that a perfect figure is possible. its not so much other influences out side of school , people dont even consider that some girls look amazing.
    and its kind of easy for you to say all of this stuff because you are thin

    • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 3:51 pm

      I can definitely sympathize with what you are saying, but I really believe that negative self-talk has many complex roots, not just size. As I have shared on the blog before, I used to engage in self-harm (cutting) because I was so depressed and confused (as a teen). It’s dangerous to assume that people who look a certain way cannot have negative thoughts about themselves or are automatically happy because they look a certain way.

      • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 3:55 pm

        Also, another thought – you never know what a person has experienced. Judging someone by their outward appearance minimizes many complex emotional issues. A person can look ‘model perfect’ on the outside but be struggling with abuse at home, severe depression, an eating disorder, or other mental issues. Just a thought!

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence January 24, 2011, 3:57 pm

    This is a beautiful post, Kaity. It really makes me think hard about how I want to raise my children, and how I want to be a role model for others concerning body image.

    My mom definitely talks negatively about her body, as well as my older sisters- but I never really thought about how that affected me. I haven’t confronted anyone about their fat talk, but I wish I had the courage to!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) January 24, 2011, 3:59 pm

    Pretty much every woman I know is like this. It’s insane!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) January 24, 2011, 3:59 pm

    What a lovely reflective post. Growing up – my mum was very insecure and quite negative towards her body. So, yes, I guess in some way that has impacted on the body issues that I struggled with.

  • Rachael January 24, 2011, 3:59 pm

    My mother never overtly commented on my size, but she made sure she emphasized her own petite, slender frame (and pointed to her bones) as much as possible. As a teenager, I was so displeased with my appearance – too tall, no curves, frizzy hair, non-perfect teeth – that it felt like a sucker punch each time she mentioned her own body.
    I’m going into my second trimester, and girl or boy, I know that I’ll avoid Fat Talk like the plague. I also kind of want to avoid beauty talk – I’d rather compliment my child based on the substance of what they do, and plan on talking to some of my relatives about avoiding placing too much of an emphasis on appearance – even if it’s positive.

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul January 24, 2011, 4:02 pm

    Ever since I remember, my mom would look into the mirror for a long time to see how thin or not-so-thin she looked. I always thought she looked beautiful and had nice curves! She was never overweight. But she was always critical of herself and thought negative things about her body, etc. If she lost a lb., then it was a big deal. It made me sad to see her like that, and always hoped that I wouldn’t do the same. Once I heard somewhere that if a mom does that, her daughter will likely at SOME point go through that in a similar manner. Even now I try to reassure her when she’s not being loving to herself.

  • Haley January 24, 2011, 4:04 pm

    Phenomenal guest post, Kaity! Thank you for sharing and opening my eyes… it’s so true that the connection we share with our mothers is profound and has a huge impact on our lives.

    My mom was always trying to lose weight – binge eating, working out like crazy – and her weight fluctuated GREATLY over the years… I definitely took after her ways.

    And Caitlin, I LOVE the clip. Mahalo nui, as always!

  • Bobbie January 24, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Awesome post! It really made me think about my own relationship with myself and my daughter. My daughter is only 3, but I know she looks up to me. This post was a good reminder to be more positive about myself. I think doing so will have a healthy affect on me as well as her. Thanks! 🙂

  • Maddie (Healthy Maddie) January 24, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Great post!

  • mary (what's cookin' with mary) January 24, 2011, 4:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story Kaity!

    My Mom def engaged in fat talk infront of me constantly when I was growing up. Even now that I am 29 and no longer live in her home, she still will say things every now and then about how she needs to lose weight (she is not over weight) or go on some new diet. It def had an effect on me and it was not positive… I’m so glad Kaity was able to talk about and work through those things with her Mom. Very inspiring. 😉

  • Natalia - a side of simple January 24, 2011, 4:31 pm

    Thank you so much, Caitlin, for sharing this. Someone very close to me constantly engages in this type of “activity” and she doesn’t realize just how truly debilitating it is to herself. These posts are truly inspiring and encouraging, so thank you to Kaity for opening up!

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss January 24, 2011, 4:32 pm

    My mom always talked about dieting and what not but it never went into the path of making me feel bad about my body or what not. This is a wonderful post, though. Thank you for writing it. 🙂

  • Kelly January 24, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Wow! This was such a moving post for me!! I am so guilty of fat talk. I do it constantly and it drives everyone around me crazy. Thankfully I don’t have children and I am really trying to work on it before we do. If people compliment me my first gut reaction is to immediately think they are either lying or making fun of me. It frusterates me, my family, my friends, everyone. I try to break the habit because that is exactly what it is, a habit. I don’t know when it started or how it got to be so bad but I am trying really hard to break the habit. I have even started seeing a therapist to help because I DO want children and I would never want anyone a child, my child, to ever go through this.

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 24, 2011, 4:36 pm

    This is such a great issue to give attention to. Parents so often don’t realize the impact the way they talk about their self has on kids.

    This is another beast entirely, but I remember having a friend in high school whose mother would critique everything she ate and even compare her food choices to those of friends who were over for dinner. To top it all off, I’m almost positive her mom had an eating disorder.

    I’m so thankful to have had a mom that was so supportive of healthy habits!

  • Alex @ Healing Beauty January 24, 2011, 4:52 pm

    While I was in treatment for an eating disorder, I had to confront my mom about the fat talk that she had instilled in me as a young girl. My mom is very obsessed with her body and her constant exercising and worrying about how she looked was something I internalized. It was very difficult to discuss this with her because she felt very hurt and upset that she might have done something to contribute to my ED, but I think it also made her realize that fat talk and all the other negative body image issues are something that can (quite literally) eat women alive. What an amazing video, thank you so much for sharing it.

  • Teri @BeePie Runs January 24, 2011, 5:26 pm

    Fat talk is so very destructive and what’s sad is that a lot of the time, women don’t even realize they’re doing it! I resolved many many years ago to stop the fat talk and now that I have young girls we are even more careful about it. But I have noticed as my girls get older, they are definitely picking up on others’ fat talk. There is a little girl down the street who always talks about wanting to be skinny (she’s 7!) and her mom is really bad about it too. I don’t feel like my relationship with the family is close enough to say anything (any ideas??), so we try to emphasize health and how important it is to eat and exercise healthfully. Thank you for putting a focus on this tough topic!

  • foodandfarm January 24, 2011, 5:41 pm

    A great post, with many great comments

  • Ashley January 24, 2011, 5:54 pm

    fat talk and food hate talk are both hard things to over come. I have come a long way in my weight loss, but find that fat talk and food hate talk are both still difficult to over come. Currently I am working on reducing both. Food hate talk would be talking about food as if it were bad and consuming the least of it is ideal. This is not true. In a black and white weight loss world, hating all food is easy to fall into.

  • Amber K January 24, 2011, 6:02 pm

    I have a horrible problem with fat talk. Although since I started reading your blogs I have improved so much. The blog community in general has made me realize that I am truly worth more than what I usually give myself.

    The fat talk started when I was a kid, because of my father actually. He always picked on my looks and it really led me to feel shameful about them. But even if he makes snide comments now, I try and just ignore them and remind myself that I don’t feel the way he does. And my husband more than appreciates everything about me.

  • Carina January 24, 2011, 6:09 pm

    I like it, but I wonder where it ends. In an effort to always be positive about ourselves, is it okay to ever wear make-up? I mean, why admit that a pimple or undereye circles are ugly, why not embrace yourself “as is” and be proud? Isn’t painting one’s face just another form of fat-talk? Trying to make oneself look more like women in magazines?

    • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 6:29 pm

      Perhaps. These are questions that i have been asking myself lately!

  • Amy* January 24, 2011, 6:18 pm

    Wonderful guest post! It is a great reminder that anyone in a position as a role model needs to carefully choose their words and actions. As a teacher, I try to model good behavior for my students.

    I really loved the video, too! It is really empowering to think, “the change can start with me.” My new year’s resolution was to stop engaging in fat talk. If you haven’t already challenged yourself to stop, you should!*

  • monicanelsonfitness January 24, 2011, 6:29 pm

    Such a beautiful and IMPORTANT Post Caitlin!
    Bravo. 🙂
    Such a good message and

    thoughts become things so pick the good ones, right!

  • Allie January 24, 2011, 6:36 pm

    Wow, this was an AWESOME post.. and so true. It makes me very sad when moms put themselves down.

  • Lauren @ Lauren Runs January 24, 2011, 6:44 pm

    Interesting post! For me, well timed as I just read an article in Self Magazine last night about mothers and how they impact your body image. Article link: http://www.self.com/health/2011/02/your-mom-and-your-weight

    Its interesting for me because my Mom (always in an interest toward our health) used to ask me about exercise, healthy eating choices. There was one summer when I had been away at volunteer camp, and came back thinner. My mom made such a big deal out of it that I purposely did not try to keep up the regular exercise (that had been just a part of life that summer). In fact, sometimes I actually hid the fact that I was exercising (not overexercising)- I’d make sure I went for my jog while she was still at work, try to sneak back in after exercising (and being sweaty), etc.

    Its certainly a difficult balance for mothers/parents to encourage healthy habits without being too overbearing. With every child being unique, there’s only so much we can train/coach on how to handle these effectively! And I definitely think the first part is in the self-care – take care of myself first.

  • Katheryn January 24, 2011, 7:20 pm

    Great post! My mom is definitely a fat talker. All growing up and still today she talks about how ugly and fat she is. Although she is none of those things. Listening to that has definitely affected me, and unfortunately I started doing the same things. Once I had my first child I knew that was something that needed to stop. I now have two children and never say engage in fat talk, although I still am working on the negative voices in my head.

  • Baking 'n' Books January 24, 2011, 7:32 pm

    I don’t really have a role model so I can’t say it based on that. But friends and family definitely had influences majorly. I know it’s ultimately our own responsibilities and we are in control – but getting to that point of knowing is difficult.

    Just seen Fred found his home! Cute name – Fred! Do you wear earplugs at Starbucks by the way or are you able to work in most environments?

  • Meg January 24, 2011, 8:18 pm

    My mother and her sister are both obsessed with weight and major fat talkers. Whenever I see my mother, the first thing she comments on is my weight or appearance and she cannot get through a conversation without mentioning her diet or desire to lose weight. If you ask her how someone else is doing (aka “I haven’t seen Jane in a while, how is she?”), my mother will respond by telling me whether that person has gained or lost weight. My aunt is the same way, and the two of them are in a constant competition to see who can be the thinnest. It’s really sad and has had a devastating effect on my self-esteem as well as the self-esteem of my sister and cousins.

    Now that I have a daughter of my own, I’m emphatic about now allowing that type of talk in front of her. I’ve told my mother multiple times that I don’t want her passing her issues to my daughter, and that she is not allowed to talk that way in front of her, but my mom can’t seem to stop. My daughter is only six months old now, but I’m really worried about what to do when she starts being able to understand what my mom is saying. I don’t want to cut my mom off from her granddaughter, but I need to protect my daughter from going through what I went through.

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) January 24, 2011, 8:27 pm

    This was so beautifully written, and I think many women can relate. It’s so easy to not notice ourselves Fat Talking our own bodies, without realizing how much an impact it has on everyone else around us. Especially those we love.

    Thank you so much for sharing this guest post! 😀

  • Parita@myinnershakti January 24, 2011, 8:29 pm

    Caitlin, I am so glad you addressed “fat talk” via Kaity! This is such an inspiring story, and I think so many people would benefit from it. I feel like we all go through this negative self-talk at some point in our lives – with ourselves, parents, friends, siblings, etc. It’s great to hear that someone overcame the cycle and was able to break through!

  • kristin p. January 24, 2011, 10:32 pm

    I really liked this post! Thanks for sharing Kaity!

    My relationship with my mother has deep roots in fat talk. I will never forget this time when I was younger my brothers and I were eating burger king (which she bought us) and my mom said “Ew I can smell the fat in that, gross” and it made me feel so terrible, like I was doing something wrong. I’ve always had a big appetite and love food and my family was always giving me “looks” and disapproving of my eating, my mom was always fat talking about herself and others. I was a tad chubby in those awkward preteen years and when I started playing sports in jr high all of a sudden I lost a few pounds and was noticed by my family… it’s been a battle to define myself since. I am the oldest of 7… I ended up being severely bulimic in college. I was miserable, I overexercised and restricted to get down to a low, unhealthy weight. I internalized that food was “bad” or “wrong” and I needed to rely on looks/weigh to “stand out” in my family. Even when I was very sick with bulimia my mom would tell my younger sister she should work out like me or “don’t drink whole milk, its for your brothers only. girls drink skim.”! I try not to blame my Mom because although her comments hurt me and contributed to my eating disorder, I am the kind of sensitive person who internalizes things and takes them to heart. My natural perfectionist tendencies + my fat talkin’ family was not a good match.

    I am finally better after moving away from home and have a great relationship with my mom now that I’ve come into my own and don’t look for her approval anymore!

    I definitely think every woman should be aware of their attitude about weight, looks, body image etc around any young girls!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin January 24, 2011, 10:37 pm

    I can relate to Katy almost word for word, except for the part about telling my mom about how her fat talk has influenced me. I wish she would stop, but I find it so hard to talk to her about it!

  • Diane January 25, 2011, 3:06 am

    wow, this story was exactly what I needed. My mom is a Fat Talker and self-hater, so it makes it hard for me to be a self-lover. She constantly makes comments about peoples’ weight, and despite her reassurance that I’m not “fat,” her actions (restricting, not eating at the table with our family) say otherwise. My dad too jokes about weight, and actually said to me today “You know what? You’re getting fat” and started laughing. I confronted him and told him not to say things like that to me, because I’m really sensitive about my weight. Unfortunately he just doesn’t get it, and said to stop getting defensive when it was “just a joke.”

    I’m continuing to recover from an eating disorder, but it does get hard sometimes when my parents don’t understand the influence that their actions and words have on my self-esteem and habits. Thank you so much for posting Kaity’s story—it reminded me of the importance of self-love, and re-boosted my motivation to keep on trying! I may not be able to change my parents’ comments or behaviors, but I can try my best to pass down positive self-talk and healthy behaviors to my kids in the future!

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 10:44 am

      I’m so sorry your parents are not supportive, that is so hard. But remember you’re your own best friend!! 🙂 You are beautiful.

  • Alicia at Poise in Parma January 25, 2011, 7:35 am

    Great post. I’ve been struggling lately how certain people’s negative talk (not so much fat talk specifically) has really made an impression on me. Even at the age 27, when I’m around the self-loathing, it’s very hard to take.

  • Kaci January 25, 2011, 8:06 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. It came at the perfect moment. I am a Fat Talker and just recently my six year old daughter caught me and then started fat talking about her tummy. I broke down and have vowed to NEVER fat talk again. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 10:45 am

      <3 you are a great mommy

  • Michelle January 25, 2011, 8:06 am

    Caitlin- great post. I read it last night and it sat with me all night. My 12 year old daughter, Kennedy found some success this week and got a role in a professional play. It terrifies me that she could be faced with comments about her beautiful body.

    Congrats on the book being almost done! The world needs it!

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 10:45 am

      Wow, go Kennedy!!!!

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous January 25, 2011, 4:26 pm

    This is a great post. I struggle with Fat Talk, and I’ve often wondered how it would effect my daughter, if I ever have one. I don’t recall my mom doing it though. She was really good about teaching us about balance…letting us have treats without going crazy. (ie. “You want chips? Put ’em in a bowl; don’t eat from the bag!”) I’m not sure how I became so hard on myself. My sister isn’t bad about FT either. I blame competitive NYC! ha

  • Erin @ The Grass Skirt January 26, 2011, 12:45 pm

    My mother always put herself down even though she was not even remotely overweight. It absolutely had a negative impact on me and my sister. A few years ago, my mother actually apologized to us for not being a better example. My stepdaughter recently asked me if I weigh myself (she is 7), and I told her that I do not. When she asked why, I said, “Because it doesn’t matter how much you weigh. How you feel is what matters.” I could tell that the wheels were spinning in her little head…and I think she got it. 🙂

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