What You Should Really Say When Your Friend Declares, ‘I’m So Fat’

When a friend complains about her weight, what do you say? Do you go the supportive route and encourage her to start dieting? Or do you follow the unspoken rule of female friendship and tell her that she looks great just as she is?

New research suggests that the latter option is actually the most effective way to make your friend not only feel better, but potentially help her stop stressing out about her body and, in turn, lose weight.

The study, which appears in a recent issue of the Personal Relationships journal, surveyed over 100 female university students in Canada to find out how the messages they got from their loved ones affected their preoccupation with weight and their actual weight gain over the course of nine months. By the end of the study, those who were initially concerned about their weight but had received mainly positive messages — like, “You look great just as you are” — generally maintained or even lost weight. Those who had the same initial concerns but were told by their loved ones to try to reach their fitness goals and lose weight actually gained an average of four pounds during those months.

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