What if you refused to say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend? What if you became your own best friend? These are the questions a new video by the Scene posits.
In the video — released in honor of World Mental Health Day, which was October 10 — two best friends, Tiffany and Alyssa, have written down demeaning things they routinely say to themselves about their bodies, appearance, and weight. They then recite the harsh statements aloud — but direct them toward each other. In the touching video, the women start crying before they even begin talking. (“Girl, you can’t be crying already!” one of them teases.)
“Just a reminder, I love you very much,” one friend prefaces the stunt. “I love you too,” her adoring friend responds. They then launch into a tirade of heartbreaking — yet, for many, heartbreakingly familiar — self-criticisms.
“When you smile, your face looks like a fat middle-schooler,” deadpans Alyssa, who is identified in the video as an actress who struggles with anorexia. Her friend Tiffany, a producer who struggles with body image, wipes away a tear. “Shopping with your body type will never be easy,” she proclaims.
But the self-abuse becomes increasingly more harsh. Among the most searing criticisms the friends recite to each other include: “The people behind you are staring at the way your fat hangs over your bra,” “You should never get pregnant because your nose is going to spread across your face,” “He would have never cheated if you were skinnier,” “You won’t be sexy unless you lose 10 more pounds,” “He’s going to leave you for someone skinnier,” and “You’re not even worthy of him.”
In silence, the friends look empathetic at each other. They hold hands. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” Tiffany says. “I know, you too.” Alyssa says through a pained expression.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.” Alyssa’s struggle is “not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice,” and “in the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.”
According to DoSomething.org, Tiffany’s affliction is also backed by science. “Approximately 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media,” the site says.
The video by the Scene fast-forwards to one week later, when the women have watched the video … sort of. “How many times have you watched it,” Tiffany asks her friend. “I couldn’t even watch it the first time! I can’t look at myself. I hate how I look,” Alyssa confesses, though she also tells Tiffany that watching her cry and watching the pain that words were bringing her pal, “that is constant. That is literally 24/7 in my mind.” She concluded, “Wow, I am hurting myself so much.”
“You just now have to pretend like you’re talking to me,” Tiffany smiles, getting to the heart of the matter. “You always tell me my lipstick looks good, and my butt looks good, I mean, even though I don’t feel that way,” she says through a beaming smile that betrays how confident her best friend makes her feel about herself. “I just have to try to pretend like I’m talking to you,” Alyssa concludes, although hopefully one day, she won’t be pretending at all anymore.
“Why do we say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t ever say (or think about) or best friends?” the video asks at its conclusion. “Be a best friend to yourself.”