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Students lead campaign against ‘fat talk’

News Editor

Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 02:10

Fat Talk Free

Courtesy Photo

The student-run initiative has organized a week full of events, such as ‘Inspiration Stations’ in the MUB.

The epidemic that is negative body image is sweeping across the nation and the world; more than 30 million people – men and women – suffer from an eating disorder in the United States, and anorexia nervosa kills more people than any other psychiatric disorder. University campuses are not immune to this unfortunate trend.

Fat Talk Free Week (FTFW), an annual campaign to promote positive body image and acceptance, is an important tool in combating this issue. This week, Oct. 21-24, students at the University of New Hampshire will join over 50 other schools across the country in striving for a seemingly impossible goal: to refrain from fat talk.

“Fat talk” includes any demeaning language about a person’s figure or appearance in general, and it’s a pervasive part of campus culture. Such talk often slips into conversations subconsciously.

According to Maria Caplan, a nutrition educator at UNH Health Services, students at UNH are suffering from the adverse effects of unrealistic media portrayals of beauty and also from fat talk.

A spring 2013 survey revealed that, although 60 percent of students are at a healthy weight, 61 percent of females and 28 percent of males are trying to lose weight, either through exercise or dieting.

“These numbers are shocking—over half of the students on campus are considered to be in a healthy weight range while those same students are all trying to lose weight,” Caplan said.

Caplan believes that events like FTFW are critical in addressing these startling statistics. Promoting awareness acts as both a preventative method and also as encouragement for those who are struggling to seek help. In addition, shedding light on the issue provokes students to challenge media ideals and to adopt more positive ways of thinking about their bodies, as well as about their peers’.

Caplan attributes the success of FTFW to the fact that it is a student-run initiative.

“Fat Talk Free Week is a completely student-run outreach program sponsored and run by the peer education group Eating Concerns Mentors (ECM),” Caplan said. “By having students lead, implement, and design programs for students, research shows that peer to peer education is sometimes more effective than professional interventions.”

Fat Talk Free Week is a branch of the Reflections Body Image Program, which was developed by Trinity professor Carolyn Becker and the school’s Greek life program, particularly the Delta Delta Delta fraternity. UNH Health Services and the Eating Concerns Mentors program have been involved since the inception of Fat Talk Free Week in 2008, and the campaign has grown in momentum over the past few years.

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Mon Oct 28 2013 15:29
The Leftest DemocRATic academia is at it again whereby in the near future they'll campaign for hate speech just to call anyone overweight never mind fat. These are the same people sporting Che Guevara T-shirts and think Obama is the best President ever, even better than George Washington. They think everything is either hate related or racist. The real problem is to many Americans spend more time at the dinner table and miss no opportunity to gobble down FAT foods while watching The Rachel Madcow show. Raymond W. Tate.
Mon Oct 28 2013 15:10
This event boils down to the fact that we have too much damn food in this country and some people seem to think it's our problem that they can't stop eating it or they have horrible practices and viewpoints with their relationship to it.

If you like food and are heavier than what is generally considered to be healthy then just own it, Lord knows I'm not the fittest person. But don't get mad if the rest of the world isn't going to suddenly shift conceptions because you like food more than you like jogging.

Thu Oct 24 2013 18:11
Welcome to America! I always love these articles that try to justify obesity. How dare those people who diet and exercise correctly be attractive! That's unfair to the all of the overweight girls who are too lazy to hit the gym! Diet + exercise = fitness, increased attractiveness, and boosted self-confidence GUARANTEED. When will people accept this and PUT IN THE WORK!

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