What is reality but a dim reflection of our beliefs? Once again it has been confirmed by a recent research whose results can be found online in Sex Roles. It seems that women’s opinions about their bodies are heavily influenced by how they perceive their friends feel about theirs.
The research involved 75 female friend pairs of approximately college ages; they were asked about their mutual discussions of topics like appearance, body care, weight loss, nutrition, and workouts. Researches estimated the women’s body images and how much they were troubled by having to be slim. All these discussions left a feeling of disappointment about their bodies – with the exception of conversations about workouts.
It looks as if doubts about the body are highly contagious: the women who are unsure of their bodies usually assume that their friends are in the same boat, and their concerns are practically the same. Moreover, say Canada’s Mount Allison University researchers, as they grow to believe that their friend’s dissatisfaction gets worse, their own dissatisfaction aggravates in response. The belief that appearances are of prime importance leads to additional worry whenever they suspect that their friends feel bad about the way they look.
Perceptions do work like this, we know it, but what was more surprising is the fact that discussions of workouts leave behind positive feelings. Probably the reason behind it is that when talking sport, we tend to think what we can do and not what we look like. When friends get busy on exercising together, it creates a special kind of bond and makes both women feel better. When the subject of going to the gym comes up, then, why not ask a few more questions about how it goes? It may result in something beneficial for you both.
Furthermore, there are ways to curb your negative feelings about your body.
1. Control fat talk
It is easy for some women to express their concern in starting (and keeping up!) a discussion of just how fat they are, who is fatter and so on, probably admitting they are heavier in order to make her friend feel a little bit better. It can become a real problem when a woman who is quite satisfied about her looks gets drawn into the vicious circle and ends up with grave misgivings over her appearance.
If you noticed that fat talk is becoming a problem with your friend, try to curb it with a joke, or jerk your friend out of it reminding that you are really two smart women who do not have to spend their time in fat talks, and be ready with a more interesting subject to launch upon. Enter on an agreement to limit fat talk.
It could be that your friend is just unable to stop. Draw her attention to the fact that it seems to be compulsory with her and ask her if she really thinks both of you should go on bringing the subject up – and whether she is aware that it may make you feel bad afterwards.
2. Accept that it is action and not appearance that is more important
As you start thinking about what you look like, try and shift the attention to what you can do with the kind of body you have. Don’t think that you hate your body parts; get to think what they enable you to do. You will certainly buoy up your spirits as you are pondering over your physical prowess!
3. Focus on your beautiful parts of the body
Maybe as you look at yourself in the mirror your gaze lands on the parts of body you are dissatisfied with first? Maybe you even begin commenting out loud on how ugly this particular part looks? And you hear yourself commenting every time, which only makes it worse. Instead, focus on the part you love about yourself, whether it be breasts, shoulders, ankles, and make comments about how good they look and how your article of clothing accentuates them.
4. Make good talk stick
You have to make positive talk a habit to get it to work for you; it may be a month or longer until you feel the proper effect. Moreover, you may be thinking that it’s all lies. Turn to your friends and relatives for help. You can even write down the compliments you get from them and tape them to your mirror to make them stick. Make sure you don’t go amassing negative statements and disregard positive ones; let the positive attitude rule.
5. Fix your body detractor with a name
The voice you hear inside yourself repeating detrimental statements about your body can seem to be your own, whereas actually it isn’t. If you try and cast your mind back you may remember somebody from your past who voiced negative opinions about your body more than once. Then you can chase him or her out of your mind by saying “go away, you’re not wanted here” or my making as though you hid the strange voice in an object.
6. Put yourself on a higher place
If you are given to talking to yourself in a detrimental fashion, imagine yourself talking like that to your mother, aunt or best friend. Won’t you be more respectful and caring? Now place yourself in the same position, imagine you’re talking to another person you look up to – and explain to yourself there’s no real need to treat you so inferior!