Thirty-five college campuses nation-wide are participating in “Fat Talk Free Week,” a voluntary ban on language and conversations that promote poor body image and eating disorders. The campaign is primarily targeted at young women, with the slogan “Friends don’t let friends fat-talk.” Fat Talk includes all discussions about weight and fat, like conversations about flattering clothes, gossiping about another girl’s weight, and complimenting a friend on looking thin.
According to Time magazine, nearly 10 million women suffer from anorexia or bulimia in the U.S. The program’s philosophy is based on research conducted by Eric Stice, a clinical psychologist at the Oregon Research Institute. He found that applying the principles of cognitive dissonance could help young people change their behaviors. The theory postulates that over time, a young woman who speaks and acts in a way that runs counter to the popular culture’s thin ideal will eventually stop believing in it–and be less likely to develop an eating disorder. Stice reported a 60 percent reduction in eating disorders for high school and college students who participated in a program that critiqued the thin ideal and fostered positive self-images.
The Delta Delta Delta Fraternity has been particularly active in promoting Fat Talk Free Week. They endorse the Reflections: Body Image Program, an eating disorder prevention plan that uses peer-led groups to promote self-esteem in young women.
Do you think Fat Talk Free Week is an effective way to address body image issues?
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