What is Weight Talk?
“Weight talk” is any mention of your, a child’s, or someone else’s weight. This could be in a seemingly “positive” way, “you look great – have you lost weight?” or negative “My stomach is so flabby – gross!” Equally as harmful is commenting (positively or negatively) about bodies on TV or magazine covers.
Many of us would never talk about a child’s or another person’s weight in a negative way but find it easy—or even expected—to comment on our own. This is harmful because a child learns about themselves by watching what we do. If you are commenting on your weight, the child may start to have negative thoughts or concerns about their own weight. Even seemingly positive comments on weight can be harmful, because you may be reinforcing unhealthy food restriction, unhealthy exercise, or other harmful behaviors that resulted in the current weight. There is no way of knowing what is really going on with the person you are complimenting.
“Someone who had been one of our many awesome volunteer coaches for my high school team came over to wish me well after the season, and after talking for a few minutes they casually threw out “wow, you look a lot bigger than you did in high school! Have you gained weight?” The casual comment about my size and shape of my body was what I would call an unintentional cruelty. In fact, when I look back on it, they may have even intended the remark as a compliment! But whatever the intention was, that evening, I slid back into my eating disordered habits for the first time in over a year.” – Jessie Diggins, Olympic Athlete and What to Say Ambassador in her book Brave Enough
The time to stop talking to a child about their weight, your weight, or the weight of others (even those on TV) is now. Body comments (well-intended or not!), body judgment, teasing about body shape/size – it needs to stop. For good.
Additional Resources on Weight Talk:
- Why is it so important to not talk about weight with judgment?
- But what about health? Isn’t it healthy to be mindful of your weight and to help your kids do so?
- Aren’t we all just being a bit too sensitive? shouldn’t we instead be helping our kids to not take everything so personally?
- What do I say instead of weight talk?