Your Fat Friends Are Secretly Conspiring to Make You a Big Fat Fatty, Too

Illustration for article titled Your Fat Friends Are Secretly Conspiring to Make You a Big Fat Fatty, Too

Watch out, normal weights! If you've ever so much as even talked to a fat person, there's a good chance you might catch their fatness. It's horrifying, but it's true! So, if you're approached by a fatty, it's best just to run — run like the wind! — away from their contagious gargantuan heft. Who knows what they could do? Most likely their plan is to sit on top of you and force feed you their emergency pocket cookies. Those Awful Fats, always fatting you fat with their fat.


But, wait! That's not nightmare horror film from planet perfect size six, it's actually what a study out of Canada's Mount Allison University claims is true. Well, at least according to the folks over at The Telegraph, they write about it in in a piece titled, "Why fat friends harm quest for perfect body":

For those with overweight friends could find themselves more worried about their weight, as a study suggests women can "catch" neuroses.

Those seeking to feel better about their bodies should surround themselves with healthy friends, creating less pressure to lose weight, it was suggested.

That first sentence — wait, what, is this a poem? Or a death threat? I'm confused. Also, why does being around fat people mean that there's pressure for you to lose weight? I'd think it would be the opposite. And yes, for the zillionth time, fat doesn't equal unhealthy. This whole beginning is a mess, it doesn't work, and is therefore voided from our collective memory. Moving on!


Research into female relationships by a Canadian university found links between a woman's perceived weight and body confidence, and that of her closest friends. The study found that women's actual size and shape had less bearing on how they felt than the comments and attitudes of those surrounding them.

People with friends who persistently complained about being fat, losing weight and taking exercise were more likely to report feeling badly about themselves.

That makes sense, but WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH BEING FAT? I have friends of average weight (BMI, which is flawed, I know, but for this purpose, it's demonstrative) who HATE their bodies and I have friends who are large and most definitely in charge. In charge of what? LOVING THEMSELVES! BAM! And, uh, being comfortable in their bodies. They're shining examples of people who have healthy relationships with food and a great respect for their bodies. Because, as you know, there are folks of all sizes who love and hate their bodies, it's not a simple equation of fat = INFECTIOUS SAD FACE.

It appears the real lesson of this study is that you'll probably feel better about yourself if you're surrounded by people who feel good about themselves. Confidence breeds confidence, it makes sense — and it has absolutely nothing to do with weight.


And still, The Telegraph rises:

They assessed the participants' body images and attitudes to losing weight. Results showed that the more women felt under pressure to be thin, the more likely that they were to have body issues, but these body issues appeared to come about regardless of the women's weight, size or shape. They appeared to be based on their network of acquaintances, and the prevalence of body issues within it.


Again, makes sense. And nope, nothing to do with weight. So, basically, nuts to The Telegraph for trolling us about a study that actually has pretty tame results:

"Our research demonstrates that friends influence each other through at least three processes: perceived pressure to be thin; body-related talk; and perceptions," write [lead researchers Dr. Louise] Wasylkiw and [Molly] Williamson. "Although these perceptions are somewhat grounded in reality, i.e., close to the truth, they are more influential than reality."


We can all be a little (or a lot) sensitive about body image but if you have friends who are chill when it comes to the size of their drawers, and who focus on health as opposed to thinness, you'll probably be a whole lot happier with yourself. So, uh, only know rad people who are fully self-actualized and all about spreading the love, OK? I know, I know, good luck with that, but... goals?

Why fat friends harm quest for perfect body [The Telegraph]
Springer's journal Sex Roles



Laura, I love you. But why are we reporting on the reporting on a scientific study? It's obvious you did not read the scientific article. Is the issue that Gawker Media lacks a scientifically literate writer, or will Gawker not spring for the articles themselves? Please either hire a qualified graduate student or whatever who can access the work with a school VPN and write proficiently on the topic, or stop reporting on scientific findings. You have an educated readership. I think I speak for more than just myself when I say we do not want a twice digested recap of scientific research, particularly if we're meant to analyze and discuss it.

I'm in the field of diabetes and obesity and would be happy to write myself or help find someone who can.