It’s hard to interview Busy Philipps. Mostly, you feel the same awkwardness you would if you had to sit down with your best friend and say, ‘hey, can you spill some really deep thoughts without any warm-up over the course of a quick 20-minute convo?”
Of course, that’s not an entirely accurate assessment. Busy and I aren’t friends. She and I haven’t ever even spoken before this. But I loved her on Freaks and Geeks—and then again on Dawson’s Creek. I’m positive I’ll love her upcoming talk show on E! Plus, I’ve seen her show up to countless award shows with her dear friend Michelle Williams, having a blast with her buddy, in much the way I imagine my own best friend and I would do if we were glamorous and gown-bedecked and very, very fancy—but also still normal and relatable.
And then, of course, there’s Busy’s Instagram presence. On her stories I’ve learned about her most recent (maybe?) sinus infection, her adventures with Elf on a Shelf, her daily trampoline workouts that somehow making a punishing test of physical endurance seem appealing, her trips to New York, her friendship with many people who I think are very cool and creative, from Grizzy Bear’s Ed Droste to Joshua Jackson to one of my own beloved former co-workers, Piera Gelardi. I’ll admit her stories are one of the few that actually motivate me to turn the sound on and listen. Which is the highest praise I can offer from a social-media perspective.
“My worth is not my body; my worth is not my face.”
So, it’s weird. But I’m a professional, and of course I prevail. We talk about her recent movieI Feel Pretty, and the themes of friendship, confidence, and women’s bodies, that come up when you watch it. We talk about her idea of success, which is just as real as you would except: “I’m in this place where [success] has a lot to do with being as authentic as I can be—to who I am and making sure that I am able to remember that and to keep that in mind.”
And we talk about the honest reality of becoming a mother—both from a physical and emotional perspective—in a way that you rarely hear about, either from celebrities or real-life friends. That rawness and unfiltered truth-telling gets me even more excited for her upcoming talk show, especially since she’ll be joining a small but seemingly tight cadre of funny women with matching jackets, to bring another female voice to a largely male-driven space. But that show doesn’t have a debut date set quite yet. So in the interim, we can all tide ourselves over with some of the gems of wisdom below—and a steady diet of Instagram broadcasts.
When people talk about you as a friend there is this running thread of real generosity, but I’m curious about the flip side of that: What does friendship do for you— I don’t mean in a transactional sense, but how does it feed and fuel you?
“My female friendships are incredibly important to me for many reasons, but I guess one of the amazing things about having long-term long-standing female friendships in my life is that your girlfriends have been with you through everything and they’ve seen you in all different phases in your life.
For me, history is so important—I don’t mean in terms of being bogged down by the past but I feel like everything that comes before informs who you are now and so to have people in your life who have been a witness to your life is really valuable. It keeps you in touch with the person who you used to be and the person who you dreamed of becoming and the person who you are now. So that’s what I get out of a lot of my really long-term, long-standing female friendships.”
Do you think it’s impossible to make new friends—especially at this age and stage of life?
“I made a new friend last year; she and I have become really close. Actually, I became friends with this woman that I work out with, whom I adore, and we just work out together every morning and then we started getting juice together—yeah I for sure make new friends all the time.
I think it depends on what you do with your life. I’m not stuck in an office all day long, so I’m not relegated to the 40 people I see every day, day in day out. I’m out in the world because my job is what it is.
And with my kids, I’ve made friends with a couple of moms from my daughter’s elementary school, and I’ve made some mom friends from Cricket’s pre-school.
I do think that you have to make an effort and there have been times in my life where I’ve made less of an effort and times where I’ve made more. But I think that if it’s something that you want to do, it’s definitely a doable thing in your 30s, to make new friends.”
You recently starred in I Feel Pretty, which tackles confidence, body image, and perception in an interesting way.
But you’ve also been very vocal on your own platforms, questioning why we feel so comfortable talking about other women’s bodies to their faces. Whether there is malice there or not, I think there’s harm.
“I do, too. I’ve also noticed—and this is such a small, stupid fucking thing—but when I was on vacation in Hawaii I was just enjoying my vacation or whatever. And I find a lot of times people post pictures of themselves on social media in bikinis and then they have to make the caption self-deprecating, or somehow take away from it. And I was like, well if we have a picture of me and I’m with my kid and I’m posting that photo, I’m not even going to reference my fucking body. It doesn’t matter. It’s not the focus of the thing.
The way that we talk about our own bodies is so important. Raising two girls, it was actually a discussion that [my husband] Mark and I had early on. As a woman raising these little people, I need to be very conscientious about the things I say about myself and the messages I put forth about my body, even just in my own home. And the conversation that I have out loud with myself, because everybody does that, needs to kind of shift.
You know the expression of course, and this sort of goes along with the film, but ‘fake it until you make it’ really worked for me. The more I made a conscientious effort because of what I wanted my girls to see, the more it permeated my own psyche and, I was able to really start to embrace it and feel it and realize my worth is not my body; my worth is not my face. And the craziest side bar it that I don’t think I’ve ever been more attractive than I am right now—physically speaking. Truly. I feel like I let it all go, and it’s all worked out really well.”
It’s so interesting, the way you often hear women talk about becoming mothers, it seems like they changed overnight, effortlessly. But you really worked at at?
“I didn’t change [overnight]! Oh my God, I’m going to start crying, I never felt worse about myself than right after I gave birth. I felt horribly unattractive. I felt disgusting and totally out of control and like I was never going to fucking work again in, I didn’t have any of those things like, ‘Oh, now I’m a mother and everything has melted away and whatever.’
This has been a very concerted effort over the last many years of my life and part of the impetus for it is thatmy heart would break into a million pieces if I ever thought that one of my girls talked to themselves the way that I used to talk to myself. So, I realized that in order to try to prevent that in some way, I needed to start changing myself.
We do get messaging from the women in our lives from a very, very, young age. So, I know that the kinds of things that my girls pick up and have been picking up from birth are coming from me and from the other women that are in their lives.”
This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.