New research commissioned by Slimming World has found that 60%[i] of British adults have sometimes struggled with their weight or body image, and of those, 74% have used self-critical language when referring to their weight or body image.
The Mind your Language report explores how we use critical language around weight and body image to denigrate ourselves. This has a negative impact on our self-esteem and can spiral into self-loathing. Participants in the research[ii] who struggled with their weight reported using words like ‘failure’, ‘shame’, ‘dissatisfied’, ‘hopeless’, ‘anxious’, ‘invisible’, ‘uncomfortable’, ‘insecure’ and ‘embarrassed’ to describe how they felt about themselves and their weight and body image.
Respondents to the general population survey were more likely to describe themselves using negative words than positive – 63% versus 37%. Nearly half of the respondents to the survey who sometimes struggle with their weight or body image (47%) report that they have described themselves as ‘fat’.
In contrast, Slimming World members who had started to lose weight and were part of a caring, supportive community which understood their feelings, reported[iii] feeling ‘positive’, ‘attractive’, ‘inspired’, ‘content’, ‘empowered’, ‘happy’, ‘determined’, ‘optimistic’ and ‘fit’.
The research found that one of the reasons that we self-deprecate is to motivate ourselves to change. However, far from helping with motivation, the research found that self-deprecation, can be exacerbated by external negativity and fat shaming, creating a vicious cycle of self-criticism that is difficult to break.