Although body confidence can be a touchy subject, there are things we can do and say to help a friend who is struggling.
It’s very difficult to see friends suffer, and sometimes we can even add insult to injury – a casual, offhand comment can be very hurtful when someone is struggling with their body image and self-esteem. But knowing the right things to say can help build them up, instead of inadvertently break them down. Here’s a list of positive phrases you can say to your friend that might actually help.
Be kind and lift each other up
You might think your friend is beautiful and smart, but if they don’t believe it themselves, underplaying the struggles they are going through is not going to help. Rather than brushing off negative comments they have about themselves, really listen to what they say. It’s a good sign that they are reaching out to you, as it shows that they trust you. Think about what’s helped you in the past when you’re feeling down about your body image. Chances are that you might be able to relate to the same issues your friend is struggling with. If you need a few prompts, here are six things you can say when a friend is battling with their body confidence:
1. “Don’t measure yourself against what you see on social media”
Just because you don’t look like an airbrushed, filter-heavy photo, doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful! Remember, no one looks like that in real life. It either took a graphic designer hours of retouching to make the picture look that ‘perfect’, or it took that friend or celebrity many filters and correct angles to get that great look. Don’t hold yourself to those unrealistic standards.
2. “Focus on what you have already achieved”
In life, not everything is about looks. Remind your friend about all the things they have already achieved, and that there are still goals to work towards. These goals don’t have to revolve around weight loss, or mastering the art of perfect winged eyeliner. Goals are much easier to achieve with positive self-talk. And if they are unable to believe in themselves at the moment, make sure that they understand that you believe in them!
3. “Treat yourself the way you’d treat others”
It’s always good to be reminded not to be too hard on ourselves, and so often we say things to ourselves that we would never say to anyone else! Next time you hear your friend say something negative about themselves, tell them: “You wouldn’t say that to me, so why are you being so unkind to yourself?”
4. “A stranger’s opinions don’t count”
People who we don’t know can be cruel, no doubt about it. But there is no reason why you should take a stranger’s opinion about how you look into account. That’s not to take away from the fact that these opinions can hurt; help your friend realise that it was just a random opinion, and the wrong opinion at that!
5. “If you think you need help, that’s OK”
A negative body image and low self-esteem may need more intervention than supportive words. In that case, it’s important for you to stand by your friend while they get the help they need, which could mean seeing a counsellor or a therapist. Now, more than ever, they need to know that you are supporting them, rather than judging them.
6. “Let’s have a pamper day”
Sometimes all we need for a fresh, confident perspective is a day of pampering. Encourage your friend to get a manicure, pedicure, or even a new haircut. Sometimes it really is as simple as taking care of yourself to help you feel special and beautiful again. Try something along the lines of “You say you don’t like your hair – do you perhaps want to try a new hairstyle? We can go to the salon together.” Change, after all, can be as good as a holiday to give you a new lease on life.
Dove Self-Esteem Project has now teamed up with the Emmy Award-winning cartoon series Steven Universe. They believe that media is a powerful educational tool and that, by teaming up with entertainment, they are powerfully driving home their message that beauty is so much more than skin deep.
This revolutionary partnership between Dove and Steven Universe will come to life over the next two years through six animated short films – be sure to keep an eye out!
Find out more at dove.com