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Is Thinness a Matter of Envy Among Friends?

In an article for July's issue of Marie Claire, Sarah Ivens, editor in chief of OK! magazine, chronicles her weight-loss journey's disappointing effect on many of her female friendships. After being told she was obese by a nutritionist, Ivens committed to changing her unhealthy ways, but found her friends didn't share her positive attitude. She writes:

When I fessed up to my diet plan after week one, I was surprised that, instead of offering kinship and support, a few women were upset with me. . . . My sudden decision to restrain myself at the dinning table reflected badly on their decision — or inability — not to . . . The jealousy was palpable — especially when, after four weeks of trimming fat, sugar, and useless calories, I'd lost 10 pounds.

Though jealousy among women is not uncommon, we don't expect to find it amidst friends. But as we know, the standards of contemporary society have led many women to experience deep anxieties about their bodies, and surely such insecurities breed jealousy even in the company of good friends. So tell me, have you ever encountered experiences similar to Sarah's in your own circle of friends? Have your friends' bodies or body images affected your own?


Join The Conversation
jillerin457 jillerin457 9 years
Those who are bragging that they can stuff their faces with pie all day and still wear a 0 are either A) still under 25, or B) big fat liars. I would guess that about 90% of females experience competition among friends when it comes to weight, whether they acknowledge it or not. I have a good metabolism, and am at the lower end of the healthy weight range for my height, but I've never been teeny tiny. What makes it difficult is that my limbs, butt, and hips are small, but I have a thick waist and large ribcage, so it's nearly impossible to share clothes with my thin friends. We may weigh the same, but I'll end up in a 6 or 8 because of my torso, while their little Banana Republic-approved hourglasses can fit into a 2 or 4. It can be so frustrating, because I know I'm not "fat," but my body type is so uncommon that I rarely find fitted clothes that I feel good in, and absolutely cannot wear bikinis!
rhistar rhistar 9 years
Weight is a hard one. My closet friend is losing weight now and I couldn't be more happier for her, as I was beginning to worry about her health. And I am glad she is feeling better about herself. Physically I am a big girl, very tall, very broad with large shoulders. I keep fit eat pretty healthy but I am never going to be tiny, its not my shape and I have come to terms with this. I have had friends tell me that I can be a size 8 (Australian) it just takes hard work and exercise and that I am not trying hard enough or eating right. But if you do the measurements even if I was dead six months you wouldn't be able to squeeze my bones into a 6 or 8 or a 0. Those kind of comments are what get me down, people have different shapes that's why there are different sizes and there just needs to be greatly sensitivity around that.
xoxoxx xoxoxx 9 years
Oh yeah. I learned to ignore my mum as well, because I knew that eventually, SOMEONE would love me for my size! I remember mum putting me down a lot when I was younger so my self esteem was nil. I'm just starting to learn to be confident again! :D
italianblonde italianblonde 9 years
sarahpuffy, you may never read this, but you are the only one who has related to me with the mom comments! my friends always thought i was making up these insults my mom would throw at me because their moms never said anything like that. it really affected me but i finally learned to ignore her, but it still hurt!!
Blackwood Blackwood 9 years
Mmm... I think some girls are jealous about their friends' bodies/lives in general. while I'm not thin, I have a guitar-shaped body, with a tiny waistline, and a kind of flat belly (meaning that even if I'm not thin, it doesn't bulge out like a lot of other women's bellies) Everything else is big and round (think Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez) While one of my friends was always considered the prettiest, skinniest one, she would enrage at me (and to other friends, for that matter, but for different reasons) whenever I wore a deep cleaveage, because it reminded her of what she did not have. Mind you, I was used to be stared at for my chest ever since I was 10 or 11, and I liked the attention, but whenever a guy would approach me, she would piss off, and act like a brat (saying that she suddenly felt bad and wanting to leave the club or bar right away), and when she didn't manage to convince us all to leave, then she would not so subtly try to put me down for the rest of the evening. Her behaviour towards anything that might outshine her for a single minute bothered her, and I was not the only one she did this to, she also would do it with a lot of other friends that sooner or later got tired and decided not to go out with her anymore. So I don't think that this type of girls envy just thinness, but everything else that they don't have (which is far sadder, and deeply more telling). My friend was always the thinnest, the one all guys were attracted to, but she seemed to lack the ability of letting herself enjoy it, while the rest of my friends and me didn't get jealous when guys approached us to ask about her and dedicated to enjoy ourselves dancing and whatnot. So my guess is, it's all in the personality. If you tend to feel inferior, then you're going to feel inferior no matter the reason or how hard everybody else around you try to reassure you. It's a problem within the person who feels jealous. Just my two cents. Sorry for the long post!
livyourlife livyourlife 9 years
It's so easy for me to lose perspective on my weight, and since my mom obsesses over both her weight and mine, I do too. I'm pretty skinny and wear a size 0, but since I think about my weight all the time, I end up talking about it a lot too. It never occurred to me that this might bother people! When my heavier friends would talk about losing weight, I always tried to sympathize by talking about how I'm trying to lose weight too. After I went on a diet the other week and lost too much weight and started complaining about it, my coworkers and friends talked to me about it and I know I need to just shut up about it and keep my weight-related concerns to myself. In retrospect, my friends and coworkers have been very patient with me! It's not that I think I should be smaller, I just hate the flab! AH! So frustrating.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
Cyan45, Not true! believe it or not a LOT of men have issues with weight. I think it's more the other way around though. A lot of guys I know complain because they are TOO skinny and want to gain more weight or be bigger. Most of the guys i'm around are naturally thin (including my BF) and they HATE it. One of my brothers has also gained a lot of weight from medication he has to take and he gets VERY depressed from it. It's a daily struggle for him because really there isn't much of a chance of him being able to lose much of it. And it is really sad how competitive women can be. And it seems it doesn't matter who the person is. As at times my BFF can be my worst enemy due to jealousy and comepetitiveness.
missyd missyd 9 years
seraphimm, that was so mean of her to say things like that to you!!!! "So what'd you eat today? I ate an apple. You probably ate a burrito or somethin huh?" or "I just came back from running. Are you even going to the gym today?" I'm sorry, but I dont know how long SHE'D be my friend. I have to say, "none of your effing business" to her firmly. Well, I was once overweight. Hung out with a group of girls who were ALL overweight (some more than others, but you know what I mean). No one ever really lost much weight, because we all enabled each other's unhealthy habits (binge drinking, fast food eating, etc). When we all took our own paths after high school, things changed. I lost 35 pounds. Two of the other girls lost weight. Then I became obsessed with it and developed anorexia. When people would make comments to me like, 'you are getting WAYYYY to thin', I thought they were doing the exact behaviour that this post is about; they were making jealous remarks. In recovery, I gained back 20 pounds. And I still really struggle with accepting that in a big way. If one of my friends who has a nicer figure than me makes a comment about herself such as, "I hate my flabby thighs", I get highly offended and take it personally (I dont voice this to her, but of course I go on with my own thoughts of if she is fat then I must be a cow, time to starve and lose weight). Sometimes she forgets that I'm there and what I went through. It's such a sensitive topic for some. Girls dont understand the effect these kinds of comments can have on other girls when they say them.
tara2109 tara2109 9 years
All of my friends are thinner than me and I am jealous of them but not in a way that would make me be nasty or snide to them. It's more in my head because I know I lack the self control. I do hate though when the skinny ones are all 'oh I've put on so much weight' etc and I'm like "...eughghghg"
cyan45 cyan45 9 years
possibly, but i feel it really depends on the person and the quality of the relationship. one friend (not close) who has always been 'a big girl' obsesses about weight--diet lingo, gym, etc--but she has quite a competitive (and sadly mean-spirited) streak. i'm not implying this trait is due to her struggles/frustrations, but the fact that this is always a topic of conversation leaves much to be desired. another friend who has lost weight but remains a very curvy, petite woman mentions weight comments on occasion. however, we dwell on shared values, varied interests and mutual warmth between friends. she did joke about not wanting to stand next to me in pictures after a recent party, and i seriously felt my heart sink. she saw my expression immediately and apologized. i struggled with low-esteem (physically, socially) throughout high school and college. as a late bloomer (30), i've started to be at peace inside and 'work with the cards you've been given' (not to mention more social, assured, nicer looking and lighter)...thanks to a loving family, friends and others, it has been a good journey so far. and in a way, i find it easier to empathize with others who struggle with ridicule or hardship. out of the myriads of other things to be jealous about, i wish body image wasn't such a crippling one. it's hard enough the message is reinforced by society, media, family, strangers, etc... sometimes i feel annoyed men don't have to deal with this crap that has the power to seep into every aspect of a woman's life *sigh* but then i remember everyone has crap to deal with and overcome, right? a thankful heart certainly helped me during crazy jealous spells :-) sorry for the tangent, the topic just re-surfaced lots of vivid memories and feelings. but in a good way, in the end.
xoxoxx xoxoxx 9 years
Italian Blonde! I thought I was the only one! My mum would say I'd never get married once I hit 160 [how ironic].
italianblonde italianblonde 9 years
I can't help but notice how many comments are thrown around to others about weight. Both of my sisters are a size 0, and of course compared to them at any weight I would seem 'fat'. The first time my friends met my sisters, they said, 'Wow, they're so pretty. And you'd look like them if you were skinny.' One time my friend gained ten pounds and was the same size as me, and she was like, 'I'm about to be engaged, and I'm soo fat. But at least I'll always have you to be the same size as if I stay this way!' I was definitely offended. Sure, I'm bigger than her, but still in the single digits. My mom calls me fat anytime I eat and even said I would never get married because my thighs are bigger than hers.
xoxoxx xoxoxx 9 years
I love to eat. My weight has always fluctuated [132-152], but hey, a girl's gotta eat, so I gained some weight. I was pretty freaked [and one of my friends never failed to remind me that she lost 10 pounds the week before]. Of course, I felt like hell, but luckily for me, my Beau likes the curvier Puff! I'd like say that I'm a pretty average size, though. I'm around 160 now, and I'm a busty 34G [don't laugh!]. When I, blooming, I caught a lot of shit for it. Guys always made fun of me, and my family...yeah, lets not go there. Girls weren't very kind, either. I pretty much hid my figure up until last year, and now that I'm wearing a proper bra, I'm finally confident enough to wear tank tops and shirts with lower cuts. Once again, if it wasn't for my Beau, I wouldn't have as much confidence in my figure as I do now.
seraphimm seraphimm 9 years
I'm anxious to hear other stories I keep lingering around this post! :P I have to mention a friend that always feels like she is better than me because she recently lost weight. Everyday I get a text message from her asking "So what'd you eat today? I ate an apple. You probably ate a burrito or somethin huh?" or "I just came back from running. Are you even going to the gym today?" i'm not exaggerating...... it's so annoying because I'm not a competitive person, but she's so self-righteous when it comes to weight loss. Why are some girls so DAMN competitive?
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
I'm constantly being told that i don't eat when i do, just in small portions when i do get hungry. I currently wear a size 6.
seraphimm seraphimm 9 years
cordata! ditto!! I've ALWAYS been around a group of size 0 friends in high school, and it really killed my self-confidence. literally ALL of my friends = Size 0 Me = Size 10. no wonder I hated high school!! ha!
cordata cordata 9 years
I think there's always some kind of competition amongst friends, or at least, women you see often. When I was in high school, I was a size 4 while most of the girls there were a size 0. I felt enormous, especially since we'd all been around the same size when we were kids. Five years later, they're all still 0s, and I'm still a 4... and I still dread having to be in pictures with any of them!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
bingkaycoy bingkaycoy 9 years
In the Philippines where I came from, thinness or weight is never an issue. All my friends and all the people I know are thin. But here in the USA, a lot of women wonder how thin I could be with all the rice and pastries I eat.
austerity austerity 9 years
GlowingMoon ~ aww, that's sad :(
MuppetsForDinner MuppetsForDinner 9 years
One time when I was a freshman in college (I'm 25 now) I made a dumb comment to my roommate and best friend. We were doing normal college eating and she made one of those comments like, "Oh god, I'm getting so fat." Since she was as skinny as could be, I *jokingly* said, "That's okay, the fatter you get, the skinnier I look." Even though we frequently had that kind of sarcastic back and forth, I think this really hit a nerve because it sparked this strange competition. Up to today, if I say I'm planning on running a half marathon... she'll run a half marathon that's harder and sooner than mine. We've come across jokey products with the similar sarcastic comments, and she'll say my ill-fated phrase. I've apologized, and we are really good friends, but I realize that these are deep rooted body issues that all women have. I know when she does these things it's not because of me (c'mon, it was a passing comment 7 years ago) but that it's more something within her.
Meike Meike 9 years
No, although I do have skinny genes. The majority of my friends from pasts and present are slim or athletic. Then again, a lot of us are Asian. The high metabolism is rather hereditary. I think we're all pretty sound in the self-esteem department and we all lead fairly actively lifestyles for our own sake, not for competition. There is no jealousy or envy. Furthermore, I don't fare well or hang around people who chronically complain about their weight or image around me. The 30 minutes a day they complain could be well spent on self-esteem boosting fit activities like martial arts, yoga, taking a stroll in the park, preparing healthier meals, etc. There is no chance of me having to deal with other people's jealousy issues because as soon as they rub me off the wrong way with comments like, "Stop eating. You're making all of us feel bad." or "Where do you put all of it?" I am heading off in the other direction.
lolababy575 lolababy575 9 years
I think that it might not even be the case that they're jealous of the weight loss but perhaps what's causing the weight loss: will power and self-control and restraint. I'm not tiny and I'm not big but I wish I could give myself an extra kick in the butt to lose just a few more vanity pounds. I workout a lot and try and eat as healthy as I can, but my weight stays the same. So I'm jealous of those that can go the extra step to get to where they want to be. At the same time, I would NEVER make a comment about that, especially when I have tiny friends and obese friends that are sensitive about their weights. I'll support them whatever their choices, the only time that would change would be if I thought they were endangering themselves and their long term health.
dollhouse1 dollhouse1 9 years
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