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}


  1. "Really? Is this how people really feel?"

    No, that's how shallow, immature little boys feel. If all they care about is looks, they'll never love anyone unconditionally and they'll never have a stable, long-term relationship because shit happens in life and no one stays looking exactly the same forever.

    There is a saying about "a face only a mother could love" which really is about how the more you love someone, the more you love them no matter what they look like. True love transcends appearance and people with emotional maturity can understand that. Admittedly, some people won't give an "unattractive" person a chance, but if they gave themselves a chance to get to know someone who is "less than attractive" they could find a beautiful personality underneath and find love in spite of looks.

    My husband and I have been together a lot of years and neither of us looks the way we did that day on the beach that we met. Obviously our love is more than just about having a good-looking trophy on our arm or it wouldn't have lasted this long. Looks can only go so fa -- you can't be in bed all the time!

    So my answer is no, the woman shouldn't lose weight for her husband. In fact, she should LEAVE that husband because he's always going to be verbally abusive to her and will spend the rest of her life nitpicking her and fucking up her self esteem. What happens the first time she gets a wrinkle or, heaven forbid, gets into some kind of accident and her face is messed up? If all he cares about his physical beauty, then he should only have one night stands with models and leave real women alone.

    The only good reason to lose weight is for oneself. If someone isn't doing it for their own happiness or health, then they are not doing it for the right reasons and it likely won't last.

    And don't even get me started on the bullshit that if a woman weighs more than 112 pounds she's "unhealthy" and that the only reason guys are so shallow is that they are worried about women's health. Hell, no. Guys like that don't care about women at all, least of all about their health.

  2. All I have to say to your response is "Amen Sister!!" I could not agree with you more if I'd written it myself. I really believe that the more you care about someone, the more "attractive" they become to you. It works the other way too. I knew a really attractive guy once, and I mean really attractive, but the more I got to know him, the less attractive he became because he was stupid and shallow--qualities most people, including me, don't generally like in a person. So, good looking people can be come less attractive and mediocre people can become more attractive.

    Besides, since when was love about looks? It should be about who you are as a person. Your point about wrinkles, etc, is a good one, too. No one stays the same forever.

  3. I think this is my cousin..o no wait she lost her weight because her boyfriend told her to lose it all or lose him. But I swear this sounds JUST like her (now) fiance.

    She needs to kick him out and fast. I would not stand for any of that if it were my husband. There is a way to say "honey you're fat lose the weight", his way is wrong. I'm fat but my husband tells me all the time how beautiful and sexy I am. When I work out I do not do it for him I do it for me.

    And those responses! What?! Best response was the one who said he expects his wife to work out 4 hours a day. What the hell are you doing? Sitting on your butt I bet.

    I think the original poster should tell her husband to get off his big butt and get skinny too.

    My cousin is marrying the man who said to lose the weight or lose him (and also said that his family hates her because she's fat) and is a few months pregnant. I feel sad for this child being brought into a relationship as horrible as theirs. This woman will stay with her emotionally abusive husband, I'm sure of it. Her self-esteem is probably very low and leaving would not be the first thing to go through her head, it probably will never go through her head. I'm just glad I am not in her situation.

  4. As a dude, I just have to say that that guy is a sack of shit and a flaming pile of hypocrisy.

  5. It's so hard for me to believe that men can justify that sort of shallow response to the ones they're supposed to love. If all they cared about was weight, or physical appearance, they shouldn't be getting married. I always feel sad for the women in those positions (having once been one, particularly) because they have to feel helpless and ashamed. Self-esteem is such a huge issue for so many people already, to be torn down by the person one loves is the worst feeling of all.

    Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment, Britney. It's always nice to meet new people.

  6. Thank you, MC. You are a true gentleman!

  7. Wow. If my OH had the guts to say anything like that to me, he'd get a smack in the chops!

  8. Oh, mine too. He wouldn't ever say it, even if he wanted to, but he tells me I'm beautiful all the time. He really tries to make me feel good about myself... I just wonder sometimes if he's telling me the truth. He's biased!