Bryce Dallas Howard
Credit: Todd Williamson/Getty Images

Bryce Dallas Howard doesn’t diet. And the Jurassic World star doesn’t want any woman or girl to, either, she told InStyle when we sat down with her recently at the Sundance Film Festival. “I know it’s a crazy thing to say, but it’s so important,” she told us after discussing her new short film, Solemates. Our conversation came just days before Barbie’s monumental announcement to introduce new, more inclusive body shapes, and it contributes to the important conversation about body image with the same note: Love yourself and your body for who you are and what it is.

“The diet I’m talking about is depriving yourself of food in order to get a physical result or a desired physical effect,” she further explained. “If that starts, then you lose touch with yourself. And if that happens at a young age, you lose touch with what your body’s instincts are. It’s a slippery slope, I think, for a lot of young women, and it can occupy a lot of brain space if that cycle starts.”

Howard has felt the pressure to look a certain way herself—and she knows first-hand that it’s challenging to resist pressure to conform. “When I started working, I felt like I should look a different way, and try and do a diet,” she said. “Then I would have a six-month period afterwards where I kept thinking about food and having cravings. It was such a waste of time. I wondered why I fantasized about bread! Now, I feel really fortunate that I never got into a space where there was an eating disorder, but I also feel like that easily could have happened if I didn’t say, 'Hang on a second, this doesn’t feel right.'”

She has a trick for maintaining this positive attitude, because she knows it’s not easy all the time: “Recognize that your body is your best girlfriend,” she said. “It’s a weird esoteric concept, but it works. You have to think about it like she’s there for me no matter what I put her through, no matter how much I neglect her or I’m inconsistent with her, she is there for me. Because of her, I’m able to work, I’m able to have children, I’m able to be in the world, and I’m able to enjoy things.”

“If you’re having that relationship as early as possible with your body where you’re thinking, I just love this babe, she is so awesome, then you’re looking at your body as something that’s supporting you. There’s an ugly kind of divorce that happens when you diet, because it’s like you’re depriving yourself. That means you’re not really supporting your friend, who’s unconditionally supportive of you.”

It’s an odd idea, she admits. “But I would never look at my best friend and tell her she should look better,” she asserted. “Never. So I will never do that to myself. And neither should any woman, either.”