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The impact of different responses to fat talk on body image and socioemotional outcomes
journal contributionposted on 2019-06-01, 00:00 authored by Jacqueline MillsJacqueline Mills, O Mort, Steven Trawley
Fat talk, the act of making disparaging comments about one's own appearance, has been associated with an extensive range of negative body image outcomes. Despite this well-established body of literature highlighting the prevalence and consequences, scant research exists on the impact of different responses to fat talk in situ. The current online experiment aimed to explore four different responses to fat talk and their impact on body satisfaction, shame, and feelings of support. Female participants (N = 191, M age = 23.52, SD age = 4.54, range age = 18–40) recalled or imagined an experience of engaging in fat talk before being randomly assigned to receive a set response (where their fat talk was either challenged, ignored, reassured, or reciprocated). Largely in line with hypotheses, the Ignore condition led to the lowest level of body satisfaction and perceived support, and the highest level of shame. The Challenge condition resulted in positive outcomes for both perceived support and feelings of shame. The findings demonstrate that ignoring fat talk is associated with negative outcomes, providing evidence to inform practical guidelines aimed at tackling the social phenomenon.