Why insecure friends can make us feel fatter
Sometimes it’s reassuring to know you’re not the only one who worries about appearance. When girls get together, it rarely takes long for the conversation to turn to issues around body-image. Self-deprecating comments like ‘I feel so fat’, ‘I hate my thighs’, ‘I just love cake so much’ and ‘how do the models do it?!’ can start to flow and before you know it, you’re all comparing insecurities and discussing body parts you’d gladly exchange.
Now scientific evidence proves that although this kind of talk might feel reassuring, it can cause future damage by fuelling body insecurities and making women feel worse.
Scientists at Mount Alison University in Eastern Canada asked 75 pairs of female friends to state how often they talked to each other about body image issues such as weight, exercise, appearance and their relationship with food.
Results showed that, regardless of their size, shape or weight, women felt more pressure to be thin when they spoke about body issues with friends.
The women who talked the most with their friends about body issues appeared to have the lowest body satisfaction, whereas those who rarely touched upon the subject appeared far more confident and happy with how they looked.
Experts conclude that listening to our friends complain about their own bodies can make us reassess our own.
We might think – if my friend doesn’t like the look of her legs, what must she think of mine?
Writing in the journal Sex Roles, Dr Louise Wasylkiw and Molly Williamson said: “Our research demonstrates that friends influence each other through at least three processes: perceived pressure to be thin; body-related talk; and perceptions.”
It’s far too easy to let body insecurities take over our lives. Embarking on a strict diet or exercise regime can be difficult and it’s natural that you’d want to talk about your experiences with your friends. However, be careful that what you’re saying isn’t making them feel bad about themselves. Try to balance the conversation with other things and don’t let it spiral into a one-upmanship about who dislikes their body the most.
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