Nobody likes a 'fat-talker,' study shows

by Susan Guibert

(Medical Xpress)—Women who engage in "fat talk"—the self-disparaging remarks girls and women make in relation to eating, exercise or their bodies—are less liked by their peers, a new study from the University of Notre Dame finds.

Led by Alexandra Corning, research associate professor of psychology and director of Notre Dame's and Eating Disorder Lab, the study was presented recently at the Midwestern Psychological Association annual conference.

In the study, college-age women were presented with a series of photos of either noticeably thin or noticeably engaging in either "fat talk" or positive body talk; they were then asked to rate the women on various dimensions, including how likeable they were.

The women in the photos were rated significantly less likeable when they made "fat talk" statements about their bodies, whether or not they were overweight. The women rated most likeable were the overweight women who made positive statements about their bodies.

"Though it has become a regular part of everyday conversation, 'fat talk' is far from innocuous," according to Corning.

"It is strongly associated with, and can even cause, , which is a known risk factor for the development of eating disorders."

Although fat talk has been thought of by psychologists as a way women may attempt to initiate and strengthen their , Corning's research finds that fat-talkers are liked less than women who make positive statements about their bodies.

"These findings are important because they raise awareness about how women actually are being perceived when they engage in this self-abasing kind of talk," Corning says.

"This knowledge can be used to help national efforts to reduce 'fat talking' on college campuses."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'I'm not just fat, I'm old!'

Feb 20, 2013

Similar to talking about being fat, talking about being old is an important an indicator of body dissatisfaction, shows research in BioMed Central's open access journal Journal of Eating Disorders.

Women's body talk: Perception stronger than reality?

Nov 05, 2012

How women think their friends feel about their bodies influences their own body concerns, according to a new study by Dr. Louise Wasylkiw and Molly Williamson from Mount Alison University in Canada. Their work, which examines ...

Recommended for you

Teenage self-harm linked to problems in later life

3 hours ago

Those who self-harm as teenagers are more at risk of developing mental health and substance misuse problems as adults, new research from the biggest study of its kind in the UK has revealed.

User comments