How Your Friend’s Body Image Can Impact Your Own

Recently, a friend of mine shared with me how unhappy she is with her body. I had been just fine with the way my body looks but once she suggested how she felt about herself, I began to notice an increase in my self-criticism. I  felt a bit more plump in my yoga pants, watched more of what I ate, and wanted  to start going to the gym. After reading about a new study, my newfound low opinion of my body is beginning to make sense; according to a new study done in the journal Sex Roles, criticism your friends place on their bodies can greatly influence the way you perceive your own.  

Two Canadian psychologists studied 75 pairs of undergraduate girl friends and analyzed each other’s discussion of weight. Over two-thirds of women in the study were of normal weight, yet 79 percent of the respondents wished to be thinner after chatting with their girl friends about their appearances and dieting. Most notably, the more a woman was concerned about her own body image, the more her friend reflected that concern back on herself. Interestingly, however, this was not true when the two women discussed exercise.

Of course women feel pressured to be thinner by society and the media. But this small study suggests we are affected by negative self-talk from our own friends as well. Have you found this to be true in your own lives, as I have? [Huffington Post]

[Photo: Thinkstock]

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