A shocking new study suggests that calling people Fatty-Fat-McFatties doesn't actually help said people lose weight. In fact, the UCLA study released this week found that 10-year-old girls who are called fat are 1.66 times more likely to be obese by age 19 than girls who were not called fat. Lest you think that the 10-year-old girls called "fat" were simply fatter to begin with, the study was actually controlled.
As A. Janet Tomiyama, an assistant professor of psychology at UCLA explained, "Even after we statistically removed the effects of their actual weight, their income, their race and when they reached puberty, the effect remained...That means it's not just that heavier girls are called too fat and are still heavy years later; being labeled as too fat is creating an additional likelihood of being obese."
Of course, you don't have to be a psych professor to understand how this happens: Weight-shaming people increases stress, which can lead to overeating. So, simply put, fat-shaming backfires.
Most people know that it's hurtful to overtly call someone fat, so they use more subtle (they think) language. And in all fairness, lots of people are saying these things out of concern for their loved ones; they recognize that there is a stigma around weight and may want to protect their child or spouse. So they try to tell their "fat" loved ones that they need to lose weight ... without telling them explicitly that they need to lose weight.
In honor of National Honesty Day, we thought we'd translate some of the most common backhanded fat-shames. Here are some of examples of the coded language people use to fat-shame — and their more honest translations.
"Have you ever tried the Master Cleanse? I've heard it works!"
Translation: You're so fat that you should probably just go on a diet of lemon juice.
"But You have such a pretty face!"
Translation: Somehow your being fat hasn't totally eclipsed your face!
"What matters is your health, not your weight."
Translation: I'm trying to be more encouraging and less superficial. And it makes me seem really deep.
"You should try going gluten free! I feel so much better."
Translation: It helped me lose weight!
"Do you really want to eat that?"
Translation: You are so lucky to have me watching everything you eat.
"I downloaded this fitness app. Just in case you're interested."
Translation: I actually downloaded about 17. Please help me.
"Dancing is really good exercise. You're a great dancer. You should dance all the time! Like, whenever you can."
Translation: Seriously, just mambo yourself to work. Mambo at work. In fact, mambo should probably just be your main form of transportation.
"I look fat! I need to lose weight!"
Translation: Wow. This is awkward. Because you weigh way more than I do, and I'm complaining about MY weight. But whatever. It's about what you're used to. Plus, we can bond over this, right?
"you don't need to lift weights. You just need to do aerobics."
Translation: Why bother defining muscle hidden under fat anyway?
"But your calves are so thin!"
Translation: We should totally switch calves. This doesn't make any sense.
"OMG! that's really flattering. Wow! Like really flattering!"
Translation: What's going on? Why did that guy just hit on you instead? I think you're drunk. I better order you some nachos.
"Isn't this delicious? And guess what? Totally low in carbs."
Translation: If I have to suffer, so should you.
"Have you always struggled with your weight?"
Translation: Because you FAT.
"Have you gotten to the root problem behind your weight?"
Translation: I'm the kind of open, supportive, non-judgmental friend who you can feel totally comfortable explaining your pathological behavior to. And you're welcome.
"Who cares what you look like on the outside? At the end of the day, it's what's on the inside that counts."
Translation: I mean, I'd want to believe that if I were you. Also, I really like the way "at the end of the day" sounds. It adds gravitas, at the end of the day.
"That's you, in the picture? Oh my god! Totally didn't recognize you!"
Translation: You've really let yourself go! I mean, you're totally unrecognizable.
"Look at you! Eating a salad! Hellooo. You go girl!"
Translation: See! When you eat healthy food, I don't have to pretend I have no silverware.
"You know what I do when I need to lose weight?"
Translation: You didn't ask, but let's pretend you did because it makes for a good segue and allows me to subtly give you health tips without saying to you point blank that YOU. FAT.