A friend of mine has been struggling in the dating market – to put it simply. She wants a guy that is attracted to her, and she wants to share in that same reciprocity. We will call her Liz. A Facebook status about it went up.
(Disclosure: Liz had a crush on me for a long time. Her weight was the main reason I didn’t share the same feelings. You can’t force attraction. )
Now Liz isn’t exactly the most attractive girl, and the fact that she is overweight doesn’t make it any easier for her to improve this. Most of her friends posted things like, “Oh you are sooooo pretty,” and “Guys will and/or should like you for your personality.”
I decided to be more honest, though I made sure to cushion it, “It wouldn’t hurt to lose some weight.”
Sensible advice right? Weight loss is one of the most effective ways to make yourself more attractive, assuming you are overweight. Your 20s are a time when you should be making the most out of your looks – regardless of how limited they may be. It is when you are at your physical prime.
Getting to a normal healthy weight?
Damnable fat shaming, body hate social media heresy.
One response involved something like, “Those people are shallow anyway, they should like you for who you are, and they wouldn’t be worth it if they don’t like you now.”
That’s flattering and to some extent is true, but it doesn’t nullify the fact that the potential dating pool of nice guys who may be interested in Liz for her personality and who she is are far and few between. Then then throw in the percentage of “those” nice guys who Liz is actually attracted to and the prospects are rather grim.
It is in fact a comfortable lie, but it ignores a fundamental truth; People are shallow. I’m shallow. Even those people who are not are very unlikely to give her a chance to reveal her inner beauty.
Instead of telling Liz the truth like real friends would, they continue to lie and tell her things she knows isn’t true.
As Andrew from TheRulesRevisited pointed out, in regards to a guy and his girlfriend,
“When you do these things, you are letting your girlfriend wallow in her mediocrity. If you tell your friend that she looks good when she doesn’t, she isn’t going to make an effort to look better next time”
You can boost her ego, but that won’t help her situation get any better. It also won’t promote REAL confidence.
Liz’s situation isn’t unique. It’s far more common then we realize and it means that there is a large group of people all seeking romance, but doing it with what is essentially a paper bag on their heads when compared to the more in shape parts of the population.
Basically there is an abundance of overweight people who don’t want fellow overweight people, but the slimmer more attractive folks they see in TV shows and film. We all want a mate of the opposite sex who is more attractive then us. (Excluding the 5% or lower of “other” sexual attractions.)
Don’t believe me?
A Large Nation-Wide Problem
Obesity and curse of being overweight have struck our society hard. Romance – or at least the possibility of finding it – is made even more difficult for a rather large percentage of the population:
- Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 35.1% (2011-2012)
- Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight, including obesity: 69.0% (2011-2012)
Let’s not pull punches. Being overweight and obesity has killed members on my dad’s side of the family because of things like heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Thing is they already know about this and about how bad it is, but it’s so hard for them to lose the weight and there is a rather scary reason for it.
If we are perfectly honest, if you were overweight as a kid, it’s much harder to lose weight as an adult than it would be if you at a normal weight as a kid.
“The number of fat cells a person has is determined by late adolescence; although overweight and obese children can lose weight, they do not lose the extra fat”
What can we do with inconvenient truth? Well, I could encourage her to “accept her body” and hope things get better. Natural confidence right? It won’t change the situation and it isn’t going to magically attract any “good-looking guys” to her, but it should make her feel happy and proud about her body.
According to the body and fat acceptance crowd at Identities.Mic it will.
“The intersectional issues of size, health and weight loss are far more complicated than we’ve been led to believe, and this lack of understanding has led to weight-based discrimination becoming a serious problem across the world. Widespread anti-fat prejudice typically stems from misconceptions about health, weight and body positivity, and negatively affects millions of people every day.
People are allowed to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies, but we need to start treating people of all sizes with respect.”
Somehow, I don’t see how this is going to help these overweight people find the storybook romance they so desperately seek instead of the in-game WOW partner we are encouraging them to quest with. Nor will it deal with the vicious health problems that will occur once you hit your 30s and later. Note some damage is irreversible, and when that becomes the kind of body power/acceptance doesn’t seem very “feminist” to me.
Now, your life doesn’t exactly stop when you are overweight – nor should it, but will you actually get the romance and love life you desire from the people you are attracted to? The crew at RandolphRiot definitely seem to think so.
“Fat Fashion is all about women feeling comfortable in their own bodies no matter how big they are! This form of feminism is helping women feel empowered by their own bodies no matter how small or big the woman might be, and I believe that is an amazing accomplishment. This gives me hope!”
Hope. It’s a big deal – for anyone. In fact without it, people have loss the will to live. It can motivate you, but is the self-backlash worse if you realize the hope is false and/or misplaced?
“…Do you think this form of feminism can lead to the elimination of the perfect body image?”
Because people are visual creatures, and because some kind of “preferrable” standard will always exist. We can eliminate all the current media driven standards on beauty and any words used to describe them, but culture will simply form new ones. Why?
People are shallow.
However, most people aren’t going to wade through the unattractive waters to see if anything desirable lies beneath. Liz won’t be given the chance. Perhaps those guys who don’t give her the chance aren’t worth it, but the guys who will? Chances are, she isn’t going to be attracted to any of them. I’ve seen it happen many times already. Is there still a chance for the magical and mystical quest that is Romance? Some fat-acceptance advocates on Psychology Today seem to think so:
We also live in a culture that shame cigarette smokers, but I suppose that doesn’t count. Well, is it shameful to encourage people to be healthier?
“The message that is being delivered in great big heaping doses is pretty simple: if you lose the weight—you will find love, romance and sex. Thin equals happy and entitlement. Fat equals broken and not worthy. What they don’t tell you is that there are plenty of unhappy thin people too. Thin is simply not the magic bullet”
She actually is right, but it will greatly increase your chances. People might actually give you a second look on Tinder before they swipe. They might be more likely to help you out in the store – happens to me alot. Guys might actually look directly at you for a while before looking at your friends next to you.
Is this mean?
At this point in the social justice epidemic, I can’t be bothered to care anymore if I want to continue merely drawing breath; thanks Tumblr and feminist fat acceptance screeds. However, boosting their self-esteem by lying to them isn’t going to land them any more success in the dating market. It doesn’t mean that they should give up and stop trying, but things could be much easier.
In case you don’t know, I’m actually a hopeless romantic.
Deep down, I want everyone to find someone to live that idea Notebook life with – that includes social justice warriors and ardent radical feminists. I want them to experience love, romance, and that good old life that I myself desire.
Something else the manosphere has got wrong is its reaction to the fat acceptance movement and this whole “fat shaming” theory that is raging in the feminist blogosphere. I’m not shocked that overweight obese feminists want to abort beauty standards, “cultural norms” of what is attractive, and the ideal body weight. You would too if the men you were interested in were getting snagged by more attractive and fitter competition.
However, “Fat Shaming” isn’t the answer. If I’m brutally honest, I found ROK’s #fatshamingweek to be hysterical with some of their tweets. Yes, I still find dark morbid jokes that deal with obesity to be funny. (All or nothing when it comes to my take on comedy and what the limits are.)
As Mike has later realized, this does nothing to actually help, besides generating outrage, which it did very successfully. None of that however is going to convince people to lose weight. They already know they are overweight, and they know it is affecting them. The hope you can provide support to the people you value in continuing to help them lose weight, exercise, and even diet.
What Can You Do?
If you really care about someone, you present them the cold harsh truth, but you are supportive in how you do it. You are essentially giving a friendly critique, rather then a trolling criticism designed to make them feel more shitty.
Here’s a personal story that relates to my family:
My dad who was about 5 foot 7 inches and weighed over 360 pounds struggled to be able to do any exercise. He started to rapidly gain weight when he hit about 23 and the weight just kept adding up. Around 48, he started experiencing nausea, dizziness, feeling light-headed, and he was drinking an excess of water as he felt constantly thirsty. He was was exhausted and never felt rested; his sleep apnea made this even worse.
A similar weight, lack of exercise, and bad diet had killed my dad’s father at only 54. I was worried about his weight and so were my mom’s parents in particular.
What woke my dad up was finding out that he had the signs of type two diabetes. From this point, he did everything he could to try to improve and change his diet. He started to eat only whole foods, and avoided processed foods. When he ate meat, it was grass-fed. He would switch to actual raw milk.
Upon reading “Forks Over Knives” and doing a lot of his own research, he would become a Vegan for dietary reasons. Fast forward just about two years and my dad has lost over 120 pounds. He reversed the type 2 diabetes, has lower blood pressure than me, and has no signs of heart disease.
Just over a year into his Veganism, he started to be able to finally exercise, play floor hockey, and feel refreshed and full of energy. (Note, I’m not a Vegan.)
That support is key. Once you hit a certain threshold, it becomes VERY difficult to lose weight, like it was for my dad. Often people’s jobs actively hinder exercise and our American time centered culture usually entails to many people frequently eating terribly on the run.
Often, I see many people in the fat acceptance movement promote the same kinds of lifestyles that killed my Grandpa so early as something to be embraced. It is isn’t and it rather angers and disturbs me that the movement is lying to people in the way it is.
However, that won’t blind me from the fact that it really is hard to lose weight, my dad being the anecdotal evidence. My dad’s life didn’t come to a stop just because of his weight issues, but they were a profound barrier and hindrance to him living well, active, and actually enjoying each day.
People in the Fat Acceptance/Body Acceptance movement will stand by it, but sometimes it’s critics – myself included – overlook the efforts they put in to trying to live healthy lifestyle, being active, exercising, losing weight, and trying to get healthier. (Diet may be the easiest approach at first.) Instead of trashing them, we should be encouraging them.
Take for example a somewhat better known fat acceptance advocate by the name of Ragen Chastain who runs the advocacy site, “Dances With Fat”. While we may facetiously chuckle at the title, Ragen is on the frontlines fighting the fat fight – but doing at least some of it in a healthy way. She teaches a dance class, does some dancing herself, as well as from what I can tell some form of exercising.
She of course is a social justice advocate, member of the “fatosphere”, an ardent feminist, and she brings awareness to tumblrisms like, “Thin privilege,” in her fight against “cultural beauty norms”. It perturbs and saddens me. She lists more about her ideas:
As a plus-sized professional athlete, I practice Health at Every Size and as a human being I am an unwavering advocate for Size Acceptance – the civil rights truth that every body deserves respect and that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable, not contingent on size, health, or dis/ability.
The civil rights truth that everyone deserves respect… Well, with ideological opponents, you often have to agree to disagree.
She also promotes health at every size. What exactly is that? Well according to her it is:
Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes
Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects
Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes
Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure
Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss
Well there is plenty there that I and others would point out is wrong, but instead let’s focus on what she said that she get’s right which I’ve underlined and bolded. At least she is trying to do better and get others who struggle with weight to engage in things like, “Life-enhancing activity.” In fact, she does actually have some decent diet and activity ideas worth checking out.
(She actually finished a 26 mile marathon in Seattle about two years ago. For her size and weight, that’s pretty damn impressive. I haven’t even attempted a marathon that long.)
Good for her.
Hopefully, she lives a well-fulfilled life and enjoys every moment of it to the max. I do however suspect that if she lost some weight, her beauty wouldn’t be as obscured. Like it or not, people are more respectful, are friendlier, and more partial to those they regard as beautiful.
Insisting that everyone is “beautiful” at every size isn’t going to magically make it so. Reducing the word so that it means essentially nothing won’t change that either. It will just be replaced by words like, “preference”.
That is the point.
If you want to widen your net to include more attractive dating partners, you will have to make an effort to do the same. This may be shallow, but it’s something that will never change – regardless of how many times social justice warriors insist that it just merely another cultural norm that must be eliminated.
Encourage your friends to widen their nets by losing weight. Yes, you can be happy and still be overweight, but you could be so much more.
Don’t be afraid.
Tell the truth.