A New Aus Study Confirms Negative Comments From Your Mum Can Lead To Toxic Body Image Issues

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses body image issues.

A new study has revealed that negative comments and appearance pressure from mothers, can contribute to body image issues and problematic eating behaviours. Unfortunately, the findings are unsurprising.

South Australia’s Flinders University has recently published a study, found in Body Image, that revealed the effects of “fat talk” from family members — specifically mothers and sisters.

The study has found that “fat talk” — a term coined by researchers which can be identified as language and phrases like “I am so fat” or “I look so big in this dress” — from female family members have contributed to body image issues and problematic eating behaviours in young women.

Researchers conducted a survey that included 422 young Australian women (17 to 25 years old) to analyse the behaviour and emotional effects of appearance pressure and “fat talk”.

As per Cosmos Magazine, the survey results displayed an association between both appearance pressure and “fat talk” from mothers and sisters “on levels of body dissatisfaction, restriction and bulimic behaviours”.

Experts at Flinders University also found that participants reported pressure from mothers more than sisters. Mothers were also more likely to use “fat talk”.

“Appearance pressures from mothers and sisters can lead to young women becoming more likely to engage in their own appearance comparisons and thin-ideal beliefs,” Melanie Deek, psychologist and lead author from Flinders University, said.

“Overall, the participants perceived more appearance pressures from their mothers than their sisters, and reported that their mothers exhibited more fat talk than their sisters.”

Professor of psychology and co-author of the study Eva Kemps added that parents, friends and media are the “main influencers on the development of positive or negative body image”.

“These findings demonstrate how important mothers and sisters are, highlighting the need to promote positive body image and model a healthy relationship with the body within the home,” she said.

Previous studies have also emphasised and analysed the influence of peer pressure and social media on problematic body image behaviours.

In September, the South Australian-based University released an article on Instagram’s impact on body image and how it can promote body dissatisfaction and negative moods in young women who are using the app.