It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“68 percent of SELF readers say weight and dieting come up often with friends, at least once during every or every other get-together. … In the SELF poll, 75 percent of women admitted to being competitive with friends about weight, 40 percent said they were jealous rather than worried when a pal had gotten too thin, and 30 percent confessed to feeling a teensy bit smug when a friend put on a few pounds.” (“The Surprising Secret to Loving Your Body” ; Self; February, 2012)
I tried to avoid using this research for today. It felt too mean girls after yesterday’s post, and I’m not trying to write the next Women Are The Worst blog. But these findings are too relevant to ignore. I mean, something we talk about with friends virtually every time we get together? There aren’t many topics in that category. Men, maybe. TV, if you’re me. That’s about it.
Let’s focus on the first half of this nugget. I don’t think weight comes up that often with my friends—every or every other time?!?—but I”ll admit that when it does come up, it’s usually my doing. I can be guilty of the whole verbal diarrhea thing, so if my weight is on my mind (and, yes, it is often), I find myself mentioning it, even when I know better. But it depends a bit on who I’m talking to. If it’s Callie or Sara, people I’m so comfortable with I’ll say anything, I’m more likely to make weight-related complaints than I am with a relatively new acquaintance.
It’s an awkward conversation, weight. One person complains, the other has to reassure. Or both people complain, back and forth until you’ve each reinforced the other’s crappy outlook. Rarely are friends talking about body image issues by saying, “You know what? I feel so fit today. I’m so happy with my body.” I mean, who are we kidding? I’ve literally never heard someone say those words.
That we root against each other when it comes to healthy weight is kinda gross. Feeling competitive isn’t the best option, since research shows friends can actually help you lose weight or get fit. Self suggests surrounding yourself with friends who promote the positive and choose to talk about what makes them happy rather than the pounds that are bringing them down. They even have a quiz to see if your friends are “body-positive.”
Just remember, if you’re one of my friends, don’t dump me just yet. I’m making a change. Recognizing the problem is the first step.
Do you and your friends talk about weight, diet and body image a lot? How do you steer the conversation in other directions? And are you guilty of the fat-talk?
I’m so enjoying doing book club visits, and would love to meet your group. Choose MWF Seeking BFF for your next book (discussion guide is here) and I’d love to join in via Skype or in person. Just let me know when!