Fat Talk Free Week at UNH Last Week
Fat Talk Free Week is a nation-wide initiative to ban fat talk for an entire week. Fat talk is defined as any language that involves criticizing one’s body or the body of someone else. The slogan for the event is “Friends don’t let friends fat talk.” You have probably seen the stickers or flyers around the UNH campus at some point because UNH has been involved from the very beginning. According to Time, Carolyn Becker, a professor at Trinity College in San Antonio Texas, developed a program called Reflections Body Image Program. With the help of the Delta Delta Delta fraternity, the two helped launch the First Annual Fat Talk Free Week in 2008. Now more than 50 universities in the United States participate in this important week.
At UNH, Health Services promoted this program from the very beginning in 2008. In 2009 the Eating Concerns Mentors Program (ECM) was created and took the reins from there. ECM and Health Services think the week is a fabulous initiative because it challenges women and men to act against the thin ideal and focus on the positives of their bodies. This is difficult for many of us to do. If you visit the national Facebook page you can view many pictures of students loving their bodies. This year’s Fat Talk Free Week at UNH ran from the 21st of October to the 28th. It kicked off with the presentation of a life-sized Barbie in the lobby of the Dimond Library. According to research done by ECM, if Barbie was a real person she would not be able to walk, or menstruate, and would be considered anorexic.
Mirrorless Monday took place all day and encouraged students not to use a mirror for the entire day. The mirrors in the gym locker rooms were covered with paper and a flyer that read “Trust us, you look fabulous and beautiful! Be kind to yourself and celebrate your inner beauty! You are so much more than what you look like on the outside.” The film “Miss Representation” was shown in the MUB and followed by a discussion on Tuesday. This film talks about the negative influence of media on women’s body images and the lack of female presence in positions of power. In addition to the film on Tuesday, ECM opened up an online chat for students who wanted support with eating concerns. The rest of the week there was an “Inspiration Station” from Monday to Thursday at 11:00-1:00 in the MUB Union Court. ECM deemed this week successful due to the increase in students who reached out to seek help for their eating concerns. It is exciting to know that this program is successful because it is important for women and men to not focus on the thin ideal. Being healthy is crucial, but we as a society need to redefine what healthy looks like. Hopefully with the help of this program and universities all over the nation, fat talk will begin to fade over time and we will become a healthier more confident society.