Feel fat? Blame your girlfriends

By Flannery Dean
Feeling fat? Masterfile

Our girlfriends make us laugh, provide much needed emotional support, and occasionally they even pick up the lunch tab.

But in addition to giving us a Starbucks card on our birthday, our most trusted and faithful galpals may also give us a complex about our bodies, or so suggests a recent Canadian study discussed in The Daily Mail.

According to researchers at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B, women share more than just dessert at dinner; they also share similar body-image issues with their intimate circle of friends. Those issues range from weight to exercise to body shape and diet.

What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that how your friends perceive their bodies can be contagious, especially if it’s a frequent topic of conversation.

For the study, the researchers asked 75 women to answer questions related to how often they discuss diet, exercise and body image with their female friends.

Once they collected the data, the researchers found that peer pressure was a significant determiner of a woman’s body image. The more the women talked about weight the more pressure they felt to be thin themselves — regardless of what they actually looked like.

The study suggests the more women talk about these things together, the less satisfaction they feel with themselves in these areas. So, if you think you hate your thighs, and you verbalize your contempt frequently among pals, you may be causing them to consider their own quads with similar concern.


To put the study’s findings in simple terms: neurotic conversations do appear to breed neurosis.

The study’s authors concluded that “friends influence each other through at least three processes: perceived pressure to be thin; body-related talk; and perceptions.”

They cautioned that while these perceptions are “somewhat grounded in reality, i.e. they are close to the truth, they are more influential than reality.”

Maybe next time you feel fat, do yourself and your gal pal a favour — talk about the weather.

Do you and your girlfriends talk about your weight/diet together?


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