I have never had a positive body image and it has never seemed to matter what the weight scale said or what dress size I was wearing, I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I would battle with negative words that I hurled at myself and I could never see myself the way others seemed to.
Now that I am a mother, I have made a promise to myself to work on that inner negative voice and to begin to heal my body image issues. I want my kids to grow to love the skin they’re in – no matter their size, I am more aware than ever of the words I use when discussing my body shape and size and how quickly they can pick up on it.
Words have power and beyond just the letters that make up the word and the dictionary definition, the way the words are said, their connotation, can have a huge impact. “Fat” is not a bad word, but if it is said with force and an angry inflection – whether directed at yourself or someone else – it takes on a completely new meaning and turns the harmless word into a painful insult.
I don’t believe there is any one word that is better to say than another is, but if the negative word your inner voice uses while talking about your body size is “fat,” here are five words that you could use in place that may not hold the same negative connotation.
1. Plus-size. This term is typically used in the fashion industry to label women who are above the standard model size and for clothing labels as well. It’s one that many women prefer to choose for themselves instead of “fat” because it conveys that not everyone is “one size”.
2. Round. I love this word because round is not angry like the word “fat” – it’s less intimidating and you can’t say it with the same angry force.
3. Heavy. I don’t like relying on what the number on the scale says to determine if I am healthy, but “heavy” can be a more accurate way at looking at your weight then “fat”. It, again, doesn’t have the same vitriol behind it either.
4. Curvy. We all know what you’d mean if you said someone was “curvy”, but it’s hard to say this word with the angry inflection, making it already a more positive phrase.
5. Thickset. I have thickset thighs – it sounds better than saying “fat”, but it’s also more accurate too. My thighs have always been a sore spot to me, but in healing my view of my body, I’ve come to realize they’re not “fat”, but thickset and strong.
If one of your resolutions for the New Year is to take charge of your body and adapt a better eating plan – you may want to think hard about the language you use. According to an editorial piece published in the fJournal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), if you want to be successful in your weight loss plan, you should drop the word “diet” from your vocabulary.
Researchers Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., and Bradley Appelhans of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago argue that when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off there need to be an end to the “diet wars”.
I used to think that the key to losing weight was in learning what to eat and what not to eat, but that’s not the case according to Pagoto.
“The ‘diet’ used within a lifestyle intervention can be low-fat, low-carb, etc. It doesn’t matter,” Pagoto said. “In fact, at least one study compared a low-fat lifestyle intervention with a low-carb lifestyle intervention, and it made no difference. The diet itself [is not] instrumental to the lifestyle interventions success; it is the behavioral piece that is key.”
While what you eat and how much you eat does play a role in your weight loss and health goals, it’s not the whole piece of the puzzle. Thinking so could be the reason you can’t seem to get past a certain weight or why you pack the pounds back on after a few months and that’s why word choice matters once again.
In order to help facilitate your healthy goals for the New Year, here are 5 words that you can use in place of “diet” that will help motivate you and keep the whole weight loss puzzle in the picture.
6. Meal plan. This is a more positive phrase than the word “diet” because it sets in motion a plan of action for your specific goals – whether that be to lose weight or just take in more natural foods.
7. Nutrition therapy. Food is more than just energy, choosing the right foods in the perfect nutrition balance can be a real therapy for many ailments.
8. Lifestyle change. Losing weight and keeping it off is more than just what you eat and this phrase is more accurate to encompasses who it changes your whole lifestyle.
9. Healthful. When I think of the word “diet” it always sounds like it’s for medical reason (like a gluten-free diet for celiac disease), but this word puts more power back into your choice to change your eating.
10. Nourishment. I love this word so much more than diet because it’s positive – and it keeps food intake into a positive light as well. Eat for nourishment for your body and soul and not deprive yourself, which a diet does.
What are your tips for learning to love the skin you’re in? Share in the comments!
TapGenes Take Away: If you’re working on developing a positive self-image, word choice and connotations matter.