I hate advice. The fact that this is an advicey post isn't lost on me. It's my blog and you chose to read this post, or you can just move along. All the same to me.
We all have that skinny friend who thinks she's fat. Maybe this dress makes her hips look big or she can't seem to find a bathing suit that doesn't make her feel gross. And you're standing there saying, "You look great! You're not fat. *roll eyes and waves hand* Puhlease, look at ME!"
If you have ever been the one to say those phrases, especially including the dismissive hand wave and eye roll, listen to me.
Your "skinny" friend is living in the same visually judgmental, male-dominated, pretty-equals-value world that you live in. While you may see your friend as thin, gorgeous, every man's catch, there is a very good chance that she feels as insecure as you do about your body. I'm not saying you shouldn't tell her she's full of crap, but do it slightly differently with a little more grace.
We are all in this battle together. Short, tall, fat, skinny, jolly, insecure, confident... DOESN"T MATTER! We are all in this together. If your friend, any friend, makes a comment about her body, just say, "I hear you. Would it help to go shopping together so you have another pair of eyes? Some things are hard to see in a mirror." Then point out the positive qualities of the clothing or the less attractive qualities of the clothes, NOT her body.
Women of all shapes and sizes have body issues. There are a few women who are above it all and move freely through this world not listening to anything but angelic voices and puppy kisses. Most of us are not so enlightened. A thin friend may have heard "I'm fat" from a thin mother her entire life. A thin woman may have recovered from anorexia or bulimia. A thin woman may lose interest in food in times of even light stress becoming ill out of both ends - yeah, I said it. A thin woman may be self conscious about lumps or coloring because our culture is just mean like that. Am I trying to say thin women have it worse than heavy ones? NO. I'm NOT. I'm saying STOP COMPARING! And if you love a friend who says something negative about her own body, listen and love her some more. Do not be dismissive and don't turn it around to a statement about how fat she must think YOU are! Her statement about herself has zero to do with how she sees you. If you're the heavier gal, you wouldn't want to be dismissed and told "just love your body." Women go to workshops and read books for advice like that. You go to your friends for love and support. In a perfectly rainbows and unicorns world, we would all simply love our bodies. If you are so enlightened, be gentle with your less-enlightened friend!
No matter what your size, no matter what the size of your friend, love, listen, realize there may be more to their experience than what you immediately see, and above all else do not compare and dismiss their feelings. Their body image is possibly just as damaged as yours. We are in this battle together.
Alternately, if your friend seems loudly obsessed with her body and how awful it is, a heart to heart about why she does this might be in order. If it stabs you in the heart because it reminds you of your own issues, talk about it. Maybe she's never had someone truly listen. It is possible that she's fishing for compliments, or otherwise self-absorbed.... in which case, you have to make a healthy call for your own sanity. This post is food for thought for that friend that might say something occasionally and could use a little support just like you.