Bristol Uni sports teams banned from saying ‘let’s slim those waists’ by SU

It’s part of a wider motion, which aims to eradicate fatphobic language in campus sport

The Student Council at the Bristol SU passed a motion which aims to eliminate the use of fatphobic language by sport staff and sport societies on campus.

The “Changing our language to embrace body positivity motion” was put forward in June, and bans language associated with weight stigma and diet culture such as “let’s slim those waists” and “let’s burn some calories”.

Staff and society captains will now have to undertake mandatory training on the dangerous impacts of weight stigma and diet culture.

In a blog post Abbie Jessop, chair of the Wellbeing Network 2017-18, said: “This rhetoric is common in the fitness industry but is harmful to both those with eating disorders and those at risk of developing eating disorders”

Examples of diet culture rhetoric and fatphobic language were recorded from Bristol Get Active classes, including “we all want to slim those waists” and “burn fat”.

Abbie detailed the damaging outcomes of perpetuating weight stigma, such as body dissatisfaction and increased risks of depression: “Clearly, perpetuating such a culture is profoundly harmful to people’s wellbeing and tackling this language and misinformation at university should be a priority.”

This is the first motion to be passed by a UK Univeristy which looks at reconciling the relationship between exercise and mental health through language.

The Physical Activity and Healthy Development Officer at UoB, Peter Burrows, described the motion as “fundamentally necessary” to change “the current, harmful narrative in exercise messaging that negatively affects our student community”.

Bristol SU plan to enact this change by sending society committee members to training sessions that raise awareness of eating disorders and diet culture in sports, and to work with Beat this Together (the Bristol Uni eating disorder awareness society working with Beat UK) to review their messaging and activity promotion to “ensure it is not triggering”.

They also plan to work with workEDout, a Bristol led initiative, to “open up the conversation about eating disorders in the fitness industry.”

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