Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Women Are Supposed To Be Thin"

Somehow, following links around the web tonight, I found myself on a forum about weight issues. The original poster on the thread, a woman in her 20s, was having a problem because she had gained 20lbs and her husband, who was apparently also over weight, told her that he wasn't attracted to her anymore.  He told her it was fine that he was overweight, but it wasn't okay for her because "women are supposed to be thin." Apparently, when they met she was overweight, she lost 100 lbs at his behest, and has since gained some of it back. Now, he's refusing her physical affection because he's disgusted with the way she looks.

Normally, I would have just let this go. Honestly, that woman isn't the first woman to have problems in her relationship because she's overweight. This is a problem a lot of people have and while I sympathize with her, seeing things like that only make me cherish my husband more because he would never, ever say anything that horrible to me. My problem with the whole thing doesn't come down to the original poster and her problems, it comes down to the answers she was getting, things like:
"Attraction is linked to sight for men and if we don't like what we see we can't be blamed for not being attracted anymore."

"You should lose the weight and make your husband happy."

"You shouldn't be mad at him for telling you the truth, you should be ashamed of yourself for even considering being mad."

"A wife should stay in shape for her man.  As a man, I expect my wife to work out no less 4 hours a day and stay fit.  Lately, she hasn't been and it's really annoying. I don't think I can have a wife that's not in shape. You should get in shape for your man if you care about him."

"If he 'got you' one way and now that he 'has you' you've changed (physically), then he has a right to say something, right?"

Really?  Is this how people really feel?  I tend to believe that cruelty over the net is much more honest than cruelty in person because they don't know you and don't have to face the pain they're causing you.  Which, of course, leads me to believe that these people are on the level.  They shouldn't be, but they are.

As someone who has been over weight for much of my life, I really take offense to this. Marital happiness is about mutual love and respect.  It's about building and sharing a life together.  It's not about shaming your significant other every time they put food in their mouth, is it?  I understand the physical attraction is important, but I'm really struggling to understand how this woman's husband, who is supposed to love her, could say something as cruel to his wife as "you're ugly to me" and how that position can be defended so hurtfully by strangers. If he wanted her to be thinner for her own health, that's one thing, but he seems to want her thinner for his aesthetic pleasure which, I'm sorry, is just wrong.

It's possible, now that I think back on it, that some of my own issues are peeking through here. Currently, I have the most amazing husband.  When he met me, I was quit a bit smaller than I am now, but he's never once given me grief about my weight or insinuated that he wasn't attracted to me because I've put on pounds.  When I was 18 years old, however, and quit a bit thinner than I am now, I had a significant other who told me all the time that I was fat and lazy.  He told me I needed to lose weight and that I was making him look bad.  The fact is, while I was curvy, I certainly wasn't fat.  Today, I am heavy, but back then I had a nice shape.  I would give anything to be that "fat" again.

I just don't get it. I try pretty hard to think about other people's feelings. It's not the easiest thing for me, I'm not terribly sensitive or caring, but I try. I try to be sympathetic to the sensitivities of those around me, whether they be a friend or stranger. I cannot believe the "advice" these horrible people are giving this woman.  What is with all of the fat hate going around? I've seen people lately say that over weight people are grotesque and deserve to be locked away, that they're a burden on society, and that the way the overweight look makes them sick.  What happened to minding one's own business?  I mean, I realize it's a forum, and that the original poster should have thought about all the hurtful things that could come of it before she took her despiration and pain online, but the responses she got were just uncalled for. In my class, we're talking about how technology breeds rudeness and I honestly believe this is one good example of just that. Would they say that to this woman's face?  I doubt it.

I think people should remember that health issues aside (and it's possible to be overweight and healthy), skinny as the ideas is a product of a commercialized culture that tells us we should starve ourselves to death to be perfect.  If you're just naturally skinny, that's fine, I think there are people who struggle to put weight on, too, but there was a time not all that long ago when society didn't tell us that we were worthless if we were overweight. There was a time when weight was beautiful. There was a time when being curvy meant that you were healthy and lovely.  After all, where do they think the term "Rubenesque" comes from?

Someone help me out here, so you think that it's her responsibility to lose the weight so her husband will find her attractive again? Do you think it's true that it's not her husband's fault, he's just responding to visual queues? Does he have the right to say anything when he's overweight, too? I'm afraid I would have to seriously rethink my position were I in a relationship that the jerk... or any of the people who gave her the above advice, for that matter!

{Image: Leda and the Swan by Peter Paul Rubens}