For Better or For Worse…Unless You Get Fat

Sharon Twitchell had not just gotten fat; her “ballooning weight was also wreaking havoc on her 31-year marriage.”

“We were literally just co-existing together, like roommates,” recalled Twitchell.

“Friends asked my husband to e-mail them a picture of us. Later, I discovered that he had sent them an old photograph taken when I was much smaller. Even though he loved me, he was embarrassed at how much weight I had gained.”

So, charming Mr. Twitchell hadn’t just lost his attraction for his wife of three decades; he had also checked out on her emotionally and become ashamed of her. But then Mrs. Twitchell lost 110 pounds.

“I have a marriage again,” says Twitchell, who recently retired and relocated with her husband from New Jersey to their new home in the mountains of western North Carolina.

“When I finally reached my goal (weight), my wedding ring was two sizes too big. I had already had it resized twice and the jeweler was hesitant that I might lose more weight. Rather than resize it, my husband bought me a new beautiful diamond ring and when he gave it to me he said this was a renewal of our wedding vows,” she recalled.

Twitchell says her husband keeps telling people that he’s got his wife back.

That’s literally one the cruelest things I could imagine being told—you weren’t even you with all that fat. I can’t conceive of why on earth anyone would stay with someone who behaved like that towards them, why anyone would accept that vow renewal ring for any reason other than shoving it up the bearer’s ass…but then again, I have this funny notion that being fat doesn’t make me unworthy of love and respect.

Which makes me wonder about Mrs. Twitchell. If she’s the kind of woman who doesn’t think she deserves a husband who still treats her like his wife, instead of his roommate, even if she—gasp!—gets fat, she must have been feeling pretty low when she was fat. So low, maybe, that she was actually grateful for the contemptible heap who deigned to stay married to her despite the sickening, shameful monstrosity she’d become. (No word on what the un-pictured and weight-not-quoted Mr. Twitchell’s value on the singles scene might have been.)

It got me thinking about how advocating for taking away the stigma of fat, how undermining the whole “To be Fat is to be a Bad Person because Fat is a Moral Failure” narrative, especially with regard to women, seems to anger so many people, as the existence of various trolls hanging around these parts and fat acceptance blogs will attest. It got me thinking about how greeting the use of “fat” as an insult with a mocking laugh has driven a lot of them quite insane with fury and frustration. And I realized that it’s not just about the rollicking fun of trying to make life a misery for fat girls (though that’s certainly part of it), but that shaming fat girls—and threatening thin girls with that shame were they ever to get fat—has a practical component for these guys: It guarantees that there will always be women with self-esteem so desperately low there’s someone for these idiots to fuck.

Over drinks not long ago, Kate and I were talking about women we’d known—superb, brilliant, beautiful women—who thought that, because they were fat, they didn’t “deserve” a good guy, or that no “good guy” would want them, so they were settling for some guy they’d decided was as good as they “could get.” Guys who weren’t particularly kind, or clever, or respectful. Guys who told them plainly they ought to be glad someone wanted them, plucking that string of self-doubt which had been perfectly strung by years of fat hatred.

Making fun of fat girls has always been a shortcut for these guys to breaking a girl down to “their level.” That’s really what’s at the root of the men who pop into threads where everyone else is oohing and ahhing over beautiful fat women to say things like “They’re disgusting pigs,” or jump into threads where a woman has oh-so-controversially suggested that rape isn’t funny to try to silence her by calling her “FAT UGLY POT BELLIED PICKELED PIG” and “fat whore” and “fat pig” and “fat waste” and “Fatso” and “fat cunt” and “fat militant feminist” and “FattyPigFatty” and “fat, miserable waste that cant stop shoving food down her greedy gullet” and “fat hole” and noting it’s “too bad that terrible rapist didnt kill your fat ass” and so forth and so on and on and on… Fat-shaming has always been a brutally quick way to subvert female confidence, and when women start saying, “Yeah, I’m fat—who gives a shit? Go fuck yourself, douchebag,” we bitchez are stealing the only weapon unkind, unclever, disrespectful loser guys have in their collective arsenal. We’re stealing their tools to get laid.

Without the ability to demean women into believing they don’t deserve any better, these guys might have to be, ya know, likeable and smart and decent and shit.

And perhaps that answers the question of why the charming Mr. Twitchell decided not to leave, as well as why Mrs. Twitchell didn’t.

[H/T Chris Howard.]

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115 Comments

Filed under 01_shakespeares_sister

115 responses to “For Better or For Worse…Unless You Get Fat

  1. Apricotmuffins

    Wow. I have nothing useful to add, you have said it all. Those last few paragraphs were stunning.

  2. This is a tough one. While I’m a medium-height curvy chick (size 10-12, with big knockers), I’m usually attracted to tallish, slender guys, who in turn are attracted to curvy chicks. This has worked out well in past relationships. I have never been attracted to a guy who was on the pudgier side; nothing against them, of course, but it’s not what gets me going.

    So if I end up marrying a slender/fit guy, and he gains 50 pounds, I can’t say I won’t be a little upset; not only concerned for his health and longevity and decreased interest in athletic activities we would no doubt enjoy together, but what if it decreases my attraction to him? Not having ever been in that situation I can’t say how I would feel, and I certainly hope I’d be loving toward him, but I can see encouraging him to lose the weight. I don’t think that is cruel.

  3. Joel

    I don’t know if you watch the mind-rot called Big Brother (my boyfriend watches it, and I’m too polite to whine a lot), but the other night the football player guy was talking to the anorexic-looking girl about how there are probably people on the Internet blogging about how much they hate her (she brought it up). He confirmed that there would be haters out there and she should ignore them. Then he went on to suggest what they might be saying. He included, “Danielle is just obese.” This about a girl whose ribs can be counted through a wool sweater. My bf and I looked at each other in disbelief. We find it difficult to believe that in this day and time people still play off that most basic insecurity.

    Regarding Sharon Twitchell, it’s not really her fault that she got so fat. I mean, pumping out babies while spending all her time in the kitchen (most likely without shoes) must make it difficult to remain svelte.

  4. Not having ever been in that situation I can’t say how I would feel, and I certainly hope I’d be loving toward him, but I can see encouraging him to lose the weight. I don’t think that is cruel.

    I had an ex-girlfriend encourage me to lose weight, and I didn’t take it as cruel. She was (apparently) attracted to skinnier guys, and when we met I was playing sports so I was pretty thin. Three knee surgeries later I wasn’t running as much, and I gained about 40 pounds. I didn’t get too offended when she told me she was more attracted to me when I was skinnier.

    Of course, she eventually got tired of me altogether, and who’s to say my weight gain didn’t play a part? Either way, I’m with Tart: people prefer certain body types sometimes. You’d like to think that love would still be love, but love and attraction are linked (sometimes more than they should be). Yes, it’s cruel of him to say “I have my wife back”, but it’s not cruel to prefer people of a certain body type. It’s just a preference.

  5. I’d just like to clarify that the main issue here is that they were living like roommates (i.e. emotional detachment) and he felt like his wife was missing (i.e. couldn’t recognize her personhood under her fat). It’s not about just “losing attraction,” which is a whole other issue, nor is it about “health.”

    It’s about attaching a person’s intrinsic value to their weight.

  6. Regarding Sharon Twitchell, it’s not really her fault that she got so fat. I mean, pumping out babies while spending all her time in the kitchen (most likely without shoes) must make it difficult to remain svelte.

    I don’t know where this came from, considering the article doesn’t even mention whether they have children and clearly notes she has a career.

  7. Aaron

    I read this article yesterday and we surprised by late afternoon that no one had posted on it. Although I agree with the overall sentiment concerning fat acceptance, perhaps my own failings to be a completely decent person prevent me from whole heartedly comdemning the premise on which the story is based. Although my own ideals are such that I hope to one day reach a point with someone that I love them unconditionally regardless of their appearance, it is difficult for me to imagine this currently and therefore I have some sympathy for the husband (regardless of whether his attitude is right…I wouldn’t ever argue for that). To be honest, I have struggled with the morality of physical attraction for some time, specifically, how this component fits in, if at all, with love and relationships. Is it ingrained genetically? Am I socially brainwashed? What causes me to be attracted to a certain kind of person? Granted, I agree that you cannot call someone unattractive, unworthy, etc for being “fat”, but is it completely immoral to NOT BE attracted to someone who is? This need not apply across the board, obviously, I and know it does not, but for a particular individual, is it moral or just to desire a certain frame, bodytype, look over a long term relationship? Or does a certain threshold(time together, level of commitment, marriage, kids, etc) throw this component (attractiveness) into the morally reprehensible reasons for loving or being with someone? Furthermore, despite the husband’s very poor wording that does make him sound very callous, is it completely immoral to show some excitement over his wife going from unattractive (in his mind) to attractive (in his mind)? I realize I’m ranting, and I also realize that this post is likely more directed at the fat hatred in our culture, but recent posts and discussions here have peaked my thinking on the subject and I was curious to bounce some of my thoughts (disorganized as they may be) of some people of similar if not better mindsets.

  8. *APPLAUSE*

    Wow. This is one of your BEST fat acceptances posts EVER, Melissa. Thank you so much for posting it!

  9. Granted, I agree that you cannot call someone unattractive, unworthy, etc for being “fat”, but is it completely immoral to NOT BE attracted to someone who is?

    Of course not. People have individual preferences, and those are legitimate.

    The problem is that fat hatred has so permeated our culture that it’s considered “weird” to be attracted to someone who’s fat. You must be a fetishist or someone who “can’t do any better” if your partner is fat. That’s insane.

    None of this is about saying “You’re a bad person if you’re not attracted to fat people.” It’s about saying “You’re not a bad person if you are attracted to fat people.”

    And, most importantly, “You’re not a bad person if you’re fat.”

  10. And, most importantly, “You’re not a bad person if you’re fat.”

    Or perhaps “If you are a fat person, you’re still a person, ffs.”

  11. Misty

    Regarding Sharon Twitchell, it’s not really her fault that she got so fat. I mean, pumping out babies while spending all her time in the kitchen (most likely without shoes) must make it difficult to remain svelte.

    WTF?

  12. i hadn’t read that o&a thread til just now. i don’t know why it surprises me anymore that people can be that callously depraved and actually REVEL in it.

    it shouldn’t. because they are, and do. all the time.

  13. Melissa, I’d love you or Kate to tackle the subject of fat regarding the revelation of a new “game” for the WII that’s gong to use some kind of ball thing you stand on to weigh you and help you exercise, all completely based on your BMI. I’m just a bit too lazy to delve into the whole thing and its social implications re: being fat and shame shame on your fatty fat kids for playing video games all day…but it’s certainly part of the psychology, no?

    (For full disclosure, I’m an average-sized guy who went on a diet a few years ago and lost 45 pounds to get there. I feel great and certainly had a lot of health improvements but I’m by no means skinny.)

  14. I gained weight during my first marriage. Not a lot; I was certainly smaller than I am now, but I maybe went from a size 12 at marriage to a size 16. And my husband completely stopped touching me. Just completely stopped, and rolled over and went to sleep and prevented me from initiating contact.

    Well, I was still a compulsive dieter in those days and took off all the weight. (Part of how I took off the weight was that he was driving me so crazy I couldn’t eat. And partly it was a renewed excitement in life once I decided I was leaving him.) At which point, all of a sudden he was interested.

    I wasn’t.

  15. None of this is about saying “You’re a bad person if you’re not attracted to fat people.” It’s about saying “You’re not a bad person if you are attracted to fat people.”

    I completely agree; that fat can be beautiful is a strange and icky concept to many people, and it’s unfair. But if, in this case, the husband weren’t such a jerk about it, I’d say he’s justified in saying he’s more attracted to his wife now that she’s lost weight. That’s his personal preference; of course, having married her, he should be supportive, not push her away when she does stuff he doesn’t like.

  16. Or perhaps “If you are a fat person, you’re still a person, ffs.”

    Totally. I mean, that’s the thing that just breaks my heart about this article. “I’ve got my wife back.” Like she was a non-person, or, at best, less of a person, while fat. Flying H. Spaghetti Monster.

  17. Although, this does highlight a few problems I have with marriage, namely that “love” and “attraction” and “friendship” and “togetherness” all get mashed up into this jumbled up mess that causes a lot of pain and emotional anguish in a patriarchal culture, but that’s way off-topic.

  18. I’m married to a pretty big guy. He is just big all around, 6′ tall, large frame–looks like a line backer. It’s kinda funny to see us together: Me, this 5’4″ short-ish latina looking chick with this big linebacker type guy.

    He worries about his own weight as it pertains to his health. I agree, if he feels unhealthy, then he needs to work out a personal program that will help him lose weight until he feels healthy again. I am not any less attracted to him because of his spare tire, but i do admit, I worry sometimes, especially knowing his penchant for smoking while drinking. However, I love my big sexy man as he puts his arms around me and envelops me in his awesome hug. To be honest, I seriously doubt that he will be the twiggy hipster looking guys I used to date, but–well..I don’t really give a hoot. He does it for me the way he looks right now! *rawr*

    If someone feels they need a change–whatever that change may be, then I believe support from a spouse is the best way to go.

  19. AE

    Great post. It’s completely disgusting for her husband to imply that she was no longer herself when she was fat. And it’s gross that the comments over on CNN about this are all about how inspiring this story is.

    Incidentally, what’s with CNN’s new “story highlights” feature at the top of the page? They must really think their readers are lazy…

  20. thought that, because they were fat, they didn’t “deserve” a good guy, or that no “good guy” would want them, so they were settling for some guy they’d decided was as good as they “could get.” Guys who weren’t particularly kind, or clever, or respectful. Guys who told them plainly they ought to be glad someone wanted them, plucking that string of self-doubt which had been perfectly strung by years of fat hatred.

    This is exactly the reason I’ve decided to just not bother with relationships for the foreseeable future. I tried the “settling” bit and hated it and hated myself even more. After my last boyfriend, I promised myself I would never put myself in a relationship where I could be sitting right next to a guy and yet feel so incredibly lonely.

    I don’t want someone to love me because I’m fat. I don’t want someone to love me because I lose weight. Until I come across someone who loves me where I’m at, well, at least I have my cats and my incredibly wonderful friends! 🙂

  21. Anonymous Fat Guy

    “You’re not a bad person if you’re fat.”

    I may not be a bad person, but I am definitely not attracted to fat people; and as I am one myself, I can’t help but “put myself in other people’s place” and decide that they would similarly not be attracted to me. So I have opted out of the whole relationship thing, because I know instinctively that no one would want to be with me as long as I’m this way; at least, no one I would be attracted to in return. I’ve lived with that understanding my whole adult life (40 now).

    Yes, I know the real problem is that I have no self-esteem, but you don’t go pick that up off the shelf at Wal-Mart. It’s not just fat girls that feel shame.

  22. pokerbutt

    Over drinks not long ago, Kate and I were talking about women we’d known—superb, brilliant, beautiful women—who thought that, because they were fat, they didn’t “deserve” a good guy, or that no “good guy” would want them, so they were settling for some guy they’d decided was as good as they “could get.” Guys who weren’t particularly kind, or clever, or respectful. Guys who told them plainly they ought to be glad someone wanted them, plucking that string of self-doubt which had been perfectly strung by years of fat hatred.

    That’s an interesting dynamic. You can literally substitute age for fat here, too, as well. Blech.

  23. Incidentally, what’s with CNN’s new “story highlights” feature at the top of the page? They must really think their readers are lazy…

    Heh. I blogged about that back in January.

  24. Here’s what I think, and I’m sure it will get plenty of overripe fruit flying in my direction: If changes in the physical attributes of your partner would affect how you felt about them, if their being altered physically in some way would make you not want to make love to them…don’t get married. Just don’t. Do the world a favor and stick to serial monogamy or unwed polyamory, so you can dump your lovers with impunity when they stop meeting your physical standards (and they you, of course).

    Suppose you fall in love with someone’s lovely flaxen blonde hair and they go bald or gray? Suppose you fall for their ability to run marathons and they get seriously injured or stricken with MS and confined to a wheelchair for good? Suppose you crush on someone’s bodacious tatas and then she has to have a mastectomy? Almost anyone would tell you that it’s a total act of cruelty to reject your life-partner sexually under those circumstances.

    But weight — ah, that’s another story. Get fat, and you have broken the law. You aren’t even you any more, just a bunch of blubber. Of course you should expect your spouse to spit in your face when you ask to be petted and loved. I mean, eewwwwww, right? Fat people don’t get fat, after all, unless they lie around stuffing themselves even in their sleep, so it’s totally their own fault if nobody wants to touch them. So many, many, many, many people harbor these feelings, it just knifes me in the heart.

    Oh, and here’s the other piece of it: All of us have GOT to stop making ourselves artificially smaller for the sake of attracting life-partners. Even if I wasn’t attached, there’s no way in the world I would diet, because even if I was “successful” there is almost no chance of all the weight permanently staying off, and the thought of what happened to Sharon Twitchell happening to me, of my partner regarding my weight gain as personal betrayal, would make me want to die. So everyone, if you’re naturally fat, if being thin means doing constant battle with your anatomy, don’t expect that doing so will net you real love for life. At best, what you’ll get is an artificially sweet imitation.

  25. Hey, Tart, I don’t read Melissa as saying that the husband isn’t entitled to his preference. It really IS that he saw her as a nonperson.

    I am the only fat person my current partner has ever dated. Fat chicks aren’t his personal ideal aesthetic, but he loves ME. There are so many components to a lasting and healthy relationship that if my body changed dramatically and my partner didn’t like it, we’d figure something out that was healthy for BOTH of us. Because physical attraction is one thing.

    Unfortunately, it is the one thing by which this guy seemed to define his wife’s identify. That’s the real problem here. She’s still the same PERSON. But her husband doesn’t seem to see that.

  26. oddjob

    Granted, I agree that you cannot call someone unattractive, unworthy, etc for being “fat”, but is it completely immoral to NOT BE attracted to someone who is?

    Like Melissa said, no way! The problem is that in this country it is so easy to confuse external appearance with internal worth. How one looks on the outside may, or just as easily may not, say something about the person on the inside. If you don’t know enough about the person to evaluate that then the wise thing to do is assume the best about them until you know otherwise. That doesn’t mean you’ll be attracted to them, and it usually doesn’t matter.

    Obviously a husband or wife who loses sexual interest presents a bigger challenge. Then you’re left with other questions I’m in no position to comment upon.

  27. Zack

    I really enjoyed this post.

    “When I finally reached my goal (weight), my wedding ring was two sizes too big. I had already had it resized twice and the jeweler was hesitant that I might lose more weight. Rather than resize it, my husband bought me a new beautiful diamond ring and when he gave it to me he said this was a renewal of our wedding vows,” she recalled.

    Isn’t it nifty how a potentially romantic gesture, within the context of the article, comes out as creepy and condescending as fuck? “You lost the weight? Take this shiny rock as a reward.”

  28. Susan

    Let’s see, been there, done that. I gained quite a bit of weight the last years of my marriage due to anti-depression medication. I wasn’t eating any more than I ever did, it’s a side effect which no one bothered to tell me about until much later. My former husband informed me that since I was as “big as a house,” he was no longer interested in me.

    I changed medications and began focusing on 30 minute daily walks. I lost most of the weight, pawned my wedding rings and then divorced the remaining 210 lbs.

  29. Suppose you fall in love with someone’s lovely flaxen blonde hair and they go bald or gray? Suppose you fall for their ability to run marathons and they get seriously injured or stricken with MS and confined to a wheelchair for good? Suppose you crush on someone’s bodacious tatas and then she has to have a mastectomy? Almost anyone would tell you that it’s a total act of cruelty to reject your life-partner sexually under those circumstances.

    I almost ended the post with this sentence: “Hope Mrs. Twitchell doesn’t lose a leg in a tragic accident. Can’t diet a leg back on.”

    I don’t think I could ever feel secure in our relationship if I knew Mr. Shakes could only be attracted to me within specific parameters. Or, frankly, if I could only be attracted to him within specific parameters.

    As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best things Mr. Shakes ever said to me was “I wouldn’t give a shit if your mind were stuffed inside a Dalek, woman! But as it happens, I find you extremely attractive.” He didn’t do that “I wouldn’t give a shit if you were a ________________” thing and fill in the blank with the most hideous example of humanity his mind could conjure. He didn’t put beauty on a sliding scale to make me feel beautiful, or feel like he loved me despite anything; he went for a robot joke. It was so uncontrivedly charming–and I have always felt secure with him because of it.

    As it happens, I also feel precisely the same way about him.

  30. No one has any obligation to find anyone else attractive. That’s not what this is about. Its about the way fat people, and especially fat women, are defined by their bodies. Its not that this one man didn’t find her attractive. Its about a culture which defines someone ELSE’S attraction as a fat person’s problem. A culture where subjugating yourself to the sexual wants of another person is the best a fat person can hope for. Either that or some self-made martyr who will deem you worth enough to love you “in spite of” your body. Both options suck, but that is what fat people are offered in our culture. Their self is irrelevant. Because they are fat, they have no right to their self and must only be defined by their “failure” to fall into other people’s expectations.

  31. Anonymous Fat Guy – that’s the beauty of the spectrum of attraction. Thin people can be attracted to fat people and fat people can be attracted to thin people and any permutation thereof. Attraction is a crazy process.

    You may genuinely not be attracted to fat girls but if you really think you aren’t a person anyone else could ever be attracted to, your self-image might be getting in the way more than you realize. If your own fat means you think of yourself as unattractive, it isn’t a leap to consider that maybe you’re looking at other people through a self-hating lens.

    Which is, of course, exactly what society wants fat people to do. It’s the shame game a lot of fat people are AWESOME players. And by awesome I mean way too good at self-shaming than is for their own good.

  32. Neneh

    shaming fat girls—and threatening thin girls with that shame were they ever to get fat—has a practical component for these guys: It guarantees that there will always be women with self-esteem so desperately low there’s someone for these idiots to fuck

    Amen. Amen. And can I get another amen?

  33. He didn’t put beauty on a sliding scale to make me feel beautiful, or feel like he loved me despite anything; he went for a robot joke.

    Have I mentioned that I really like Iain? That. Is. Awesome.

  34. I may not be a bad person, but I am definitely not attracted to fat people; and as I am one myself, I can’t help but “put myself in other people’s place” and decide that they would similarly not be attracted to me.

    A) You don’t have to be attracted to fat people just because you’re fat. Fat people have preferences, too. Some people act like you can’t possibly not be attracted to fat people if you’re fat yourself, even if they don’t question their own lack of attraction to fat people. Because being attracted to fat people is a punishment of some kind, I suppose.

    B) There are plenty of thin people attracted to fat people, but there are a lot of social pressures on them not to admit to it. So it may not be that you’re unable to find someone attracted to you because you’re fat, but because you haven’t been able to find anyone who’s able to resist the social conditioning that tells them they must be crazy to be attracted to you.

    As for the Twitchells, I saw that headline this morning and thought, “This is news that a woman lost 110 pounds?” Then I saw it was some kind of “iReporter” thing, where they get reader-generated content for free. Then I thought, how sad. Then I thought, I hope Mrs. Twitchell wises up and loses another 180 pounds or so.

  35. True Confessions from dbcsez:

    I’ll try to remember to check this comment thread later for all the flak it’s likely to generate.

    When I married She-Rex, she weighed close to 250 pounds. It didn’t matter to me that she was heavy. It just wasn’t an issue. Her gaining an additional net 50 pounds over the years was not an issue. Or at least, it wasn’t the issue.

    The issue was that, even in the early days when things were good, I could never do enough to convince her that she was good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough. (And she was a BBW.) She carried with her all the baggage of growing up fat, the only one in her home who was even “overweight.” She carried the combination of chemicals that made her prone to depression. She would start diets that went nowhere because she would sneak snacks and stop on the way home for fast-food meals.

    Eventually I gave up trying.

    I’m not blameless, and perhaps I assumed naively that actions would communicate my love betters than words ever could. Also, I kept myself ignorant of what clinical depression can do to a person, believing that one could just pull him- or herself out of it, as our ancestors had to.

    So mostly, She-Rex’s poor self-image drove me away–more than once. We separated twice, lived together “as roommates” for a long period, became a happy couple again after she got help for her depression. Then she relapsed after we bought our first house (with all the stress that comes with that). She blamed me for dragging her along into the purchase and the ever-stressful moving. We’ve moved a lot, including the big move from Connecticut to Texas. That’s relevant, but only tangentially.

    What drove me away for good, and eventually to another woman with whom I am deliriously happy, was the whole combination: the self-image problem, not contributing her share of labor to the maintenance of the household, and her online gaming habit. In the middle of my own bout with depression, I took up with a churchmate with whom I can share the life adventures that She-Rex would only pursue grudgingly if at all.

    Is it a failure on my part to waive the whole for-better-or-for-worse clause and decide that I could not live with this person, mother of our child though she may be? Mainstream society says yes. My beloved UU brethren say no: by staying unhappy in a non-working marriage, I’d be doing everyone in the family, especially our son a disservice.

    Your turn. Gotta go now.

  36. I have to disagree with you. The woman’s appearance changed entirely, and I don’t think it’s up to us to judge the man’s standards.

    What if, for example, your partner switched political parties to, say, the David Duke klan? That’s about as radical a change, yet how many of us would stand by that? And is that any less a matter of choice than letting yourself go (as evidenced by the fact she lost some of the weight back, this doesn’t seem to have been an involuntary situation)?

    In my opinion, Sis, you’re being a little oversensitive on this issue.

  37. AE

    Heh. I blogged about that back in January.

    January? Shows how often I read CNN…I tend to avoid them as I usually find their “news” to be pretty content-free…

    And a big “WORD.” to Meowser. If physical attraction is the only thing holding a marriage together, that is an awfully flimsy foundation.

  38. Have I mentioned that I really like Iain? That. Is. Awesome.

    He is really, really deserving of being liked.

  39. I have to disagree with you. The woman’s appearance changed entirely, and I don’t think it’s up to us to judge the man’s standards.

    What if, for example, your partner switched political parties to, say, the David Duke klan? That’s about as radical a change, yet how many of us would stand by that? And is that any less a matter of choice than letting yourself go (as evidenced by the fact she lost some of the weight back, this doesn’t seem to have been an involuntary situation)?

    You expect someone to remain factory-fresh even after 30-odd years of marriage?

    That’s a tall order.

  40. And I should add, that if it bothered him that much, he could have left rather than stay with someone he obviously didn’t find attractive and didn’t want to engage with emotionally.

  41. Sis, I think you need a cattle prod to drive home the point of your post to these people who are missing the point.

    Mostly, I read these threads and once again, praise God that I am a lesbian and as a consequence sexual attraction is a feature of my relationship, not the entire basis for the relationship.

  42. Anonymous Fat Guy, let me add to what The Rotund has already said by relaying some personal info.

    I am, and always have been, fat (current weight, somewhere in the neighborhood of 300# – don’t know exactly, don’t have scales, DON”T CARE). I have also had plenty of women of many different body types be interested in me, ranging from one’s who weren’t believed when they said they weren’t anorexic (not by me) to heavy women. And I have never really considered myself to physically attractive.

    I have been alone for almost ten years now, but not because there haven’t been some very attractive (by popular “standard”) women interested. I’m just not looking to be with anyone. Part of that is my age (just turned 44 yesterday) and part of it is persistent (and unrequited) feelings for a certain woman in my past.

    My point is, don’t sell yourself short!

  43. In my opinion, Sis, you’re being a little oversensitive on this issue.

    Did you actually just miss my point entirely and then call me oversensitive, as if, because if you disagree with my premise, there must be something wrong with my reasoning ability?

    Wow. Release the douchehounds.

  44. just turned 44 yesterday

    Happy Birthday, Phydeaux! 😀

  45. Actor212, no one is saying that he didn’t have a right to not be attracted to her. They’re saying that he treated her like she wasn’t even a person by denying that she was the same person. I know you may not agree, but gaining pounds does not alter who a person is, nor does it change their metaphysical existence, and treating her like she was a completely different person, not even good enough to be in the same league with who she was when she married him, that is what is wrong.

    Oversensitive? WTF? That’s just tripe.

  46. Kate217

    Hippo birdy two ewes, Phydeaux!

  47. Happy Birthday, Phydeaux! 😀

    Thanks!

  48. sexual attraction is a feature of my relationship, not the entire basis for the relationship

    This is the core of my problem with marriage. Sexual attraction becomes the sole anchor of the relationship in relationships with such drastically unequal dynamics, and sex as a reason to love someone squicks me out something fierce.

  49. I should say that “sex as the sole reason to love someone”.

  50. Awesome, Phydeaux! Many returns of the day!

  51. Anne

    If changes in the physical attributes of your partner would affect how you felt about them, if their being altered physically in some way would make you not want to make love to them…don’t get married.

    No, that makes perfect sense — I just imagine the times I’ve been in love, and I try to imagine slagging that person off simply because something about their appearance changed, and it makes me want to cry. I especially think of the last real relationship I was in, where I was completely, stupidly in love, and I can’t imagine ever leaving that guy because he got fat, or lost a limb in an accident or anything. I fucking loved him. Where’s the bloody humanity in somebody who can just throw away love because of something superficial? If you can do that, you don’t really love the person you’re with. And simply not being attracted to somebody in the first place because of how they look is a hell of a lot different than knowing a person, falling in love with them, and then falling out and not even considering them a person simply because they’ve gained weight. You know them, you know how human they are and their likes and dislikes and quirks, and you’re watching them suffer every day because of your fucking shallow-ass judgment, and you don’t fucking care and you think you’re justified in your cruelty? I would submit that this guy not only didn’t think of his wife as human when she was fat, but he didn’t think of her as human when she was thin, either. She has value to him as an object when she’s thin, but as a fat person, the only thing that gives her value is no longer there. So when he says he has his “wife” back, he really means his fucking trophy. I wonder how he reacts when she starts to age.

  52. Deanna

    You know, if people chose individuals and not fucking body types for their lovers/partners/friends/mates/whatthefuckever, then a change in appearance wouldn’t be such a shock. Sweet chocolate Jesus – what would these “I’ll only love you if you look a certain age” people do if their partner was disfigured in a horrible accident, or lost the use of their legs, or gods forbid, AGE? Never mind gaining or losing a few pounds. Next I’ll read an article about how someone’s marriage was ruined because one of the partners shaved their head.

    I’m starting to think that the number of people who treat other people as actual human beings is really fucking low. Hello! Just how shallow are we?

  53. Sexual attraction becomes the sole anchor of the relationship in relationships with such drastically unequal dynamics

    That may be true if sexual attraction was the only, or primary, basis of the relationship during its genesis. If, however, “getting to fuck–woohoo!” is the cherry on top of a wicked awesome friendship, I don’t think there’s much chance of sexual attraction becoming an anchor.

  54. Deanna

    Sorry, ranted to quickly. The phrase in quotes should say “I’ll only love you if you look a certain WAY”

  55. Annie

    That’s about as radical a change . . .

    Really? REALLY? Carrying more around the middle is the same as having your personality (or should I say, your identity) do a total 180??

  56. Deanna

    …aaaaand that’s what I get for losing my temper and posting before I’ve read everyone else’s comments. Meowser beat me to it, and much more eloquently.

  57. Release the douchehounds.

    Totally OT, but this cracked me up like you wouldn’t believe.

    Because when I was 19 and home for the summer, my dog got skunked. The guy at the feed store, where I went to find a de-skunker after earlier efforts didn’t work, looked at me and said firmly,

    “Massengill douche.”

    So off I went, to buy my very first douche — indeed, two twin-packs — dying of embarrassment that anyone would think I needed FOUR DOUCHES! and yet also too embarrassed to say that they weren’t for me, they were for my dog.

    The douchehound.

  58. If, however, “getting to fuck–woohoo!” is the cherry on top of a wicked awesome friendship, I don’t think there’s much chance of sexual attraction becoming an anchor.

    No doubt, but here we’re getting into my basic problems with the institution of marriage as our society defines it, and I think I’m sort of derailing the thread.

  59. dbcsez, you didn’t divorce your wife because she gained weight – you divorced your wife, it sounds like, because she couldn’t or wouldn’t or some other word that connotes her inability to work with you to maintain the partnership. It actually sounds like your marriage, because of her self-image problems, was ruined in a very real way by fat shame. Because SHE internalized it and believed it more than she believed in her own self-worth.

    actor212, in MY opinion, you’re totally missing the point. And, while I don’t know you and it may not be your intention, telling someone they are being oversensitive is a BIG fucking dismissive red flag.

    Joining a radical clan indicates a radical change in personality and politics. It might indicate a fundamental change in who a person is. Losing a great deal of weight does not change a person’s personness – which is the real issue here. The way in which the guy speaks about his wife being missing indicates that he did not consider her a person when she was fat. She, the person, was right there. If he wasn’t physcially attracted to her at that point, I think we all agree, that kind of thing happens. But, more than that, he stopped treating her like a person that he loved and valued for more than her body.

  60. Ooo, yeah, I reread my post and I realize it seems like I was talking about all marriage. Sorry about that. I meant merely how it seems a lot of people in our culture define it, though i realize that this is very biased towards my own experiences.

  61. No doubt, but here we’re getting into my basic problems with the institution of marriage as our society defines it, and I think I’m sort of derailing the thread.

    I don’t know that it does derail the thread, Jack. This shit is really inextricably linked sometimes.

    Just like I keep saying being fat and happy is a radical act in America, so is being married on your own goddamned terms.

  62. Lisa

    Thank you, Meowser. Your remarks regarding physical changes are exactly what I wanted to post but couldn’t phrase correctly.

    Your post, and Melissa’s o.p. hit right at my heart. At 41 you’d think that I’d have stumbled my way through a relationship or two, but I haven’t. Not one. I have been afraid of just this. Afraid that if I actually managaged to lose weight and then regained it my partner would reject me. Because of course until I lose weight I’m not worthy to have a relationship. I’m glad I’ve finally recognized how stupid I’ve been and am trying to accept the me that I am; morbid obesity (what a delightful phrase)and all.

  63. Ooo, yeah, I reread my post and I realize it seems like I was talking about all marriage. Sorry about that. I meant merely how it seems a lot of people in our culture define it, though i realize that this is very biased towards my own experiences.

    No apology necessary. I’m with ya. 😉

  64. JackGoff, I think you’re actually touching on WHY this issue of the dude dismissing the humanity of his wife when she was fat bothers so many of us. Because they obviously had a marriage at is is currently defined by popular culture. Something based primarily on physical attraction and our notion of the perfect romantic love.

    The problem is that romantic love is a product of the last, oh, hundred years, and, if you read up on the actual Romantics, well, most of them were deeply unhappy.

  65. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership in love. 50/50. Nothing less and nothing more. I have dated all types of guys (sizes, builds, races, ages, you name it) and none of that ever mattered to me. Love mattered to me.
    After being in a physically abusive relationship for five years and nearly losing my life I had to adjust to what I was supposed to be. A normal 19 year old girl (at the time). I was a size 22/24 at the time but hadn’t really functioned in society since shacking up with the biggest loser in history.
    Having to carve out my own identity after missing out on some of the most important years of my life was crushing and at the same time I wouldn’t change a thing. You see…all of the struggling and jerks (I know you said you were “big” but I didn’t know you were “this big”) and the too-slick-to-trust-em guys you find something out about yourself, you find out that the only thing that matters is your own happiness.
    Once things like size and looks and all of this blur your vision, you lose sight of what a true love relationship can be. I have met a drool-worthy hottie, had one convo with him and was disgusted by his lack of intelligence while my best friend at the time was still drooling over him (and they moved in together, he mooched from her for so long it nearly ruined her life).
    I have found my love, I am married. He is fit. I am not. But we manage just fine. No problems, we probably get along a little too well after 9 years together, but it works for us. You attract whatever state of mind you’re in. If you’re full of shame and hate…guess who you’re next beau will be?

  66. If your partner has a raging binge eating disorder or major depression and refuses treatment, and weight gain is one side effect of that, that’s a different story from their simply gained weight for other reasons. Because if someone has an untreated psychiatric illness (not sure what else to call it), that does affect their ability to love, that does affect their emotional availability.

    Similarly, joining the KKK when they were not so inclined in the past would qualify as becoming a different person.

    I am NOT saying fat partners should not ever be spurned for any reason. I am saying fat partners should not be spurned solely because of their weight. Gaining weight, as Melissa very powerfully spelled out, does not make you a different person, just a heavier one.

  67. Eeeek, my proofreading blows today. Sorry! “their having simply gained weight”

  68. I have been afraid of just this. Afraid that if I actually managaged to lose weight and then regained it my partner would reject me.

    Of all the things that can go wrong in a relationship, and have gone wrong in the relationships I’ve had, my fatness was never one of them. So…no need to worry, Lisa! You, too, can be having fights like Socks On The GD Floor, Why We Always Do What You Want, and Whose Emeffing Turn It Is To Do The Emeffing Bills in no time! 😉

  69. carol

    BStu- I thoroughly enjoyed your entire post

    Susan- you rock

    Aaron- it took guts to be honest the way you were. I felt that you were sincere. I appreciate that, even if I don’t understand entirely. Thanks for giving another point of view.

    Sometimes, stories like this occur and I am reminded of how lucky I am. My husband has always, always loved me, and always told me every day (ok, most days!) how beautiful he thinks I am. We’ve had some kids together. I gained some weight. I lost it all and more, but I can honestly say he treats me the same now (size 8-10) as he did at size 14-16. How rare is that? It shouldn’t be.

  70. fishboots

    My husband has always been on me about my weight, except it wasn’t the “weight”, it was my “health” or my “fitness level”. I was 130 lbs. then. 3 kids later, 55 lbs. heavier…still on me about it, sort of. It took me a few years to finally “get” it.

    He’s kind of nuts. I mean, he was raised in the kind of crazy you read about and doesn’t understand how to cope with things out of his control. And as the most important thing in his world was completely out of his control, he had to work double time to insure its compliance. And I wasn’t cooperating. I’m notoriously uncooperative.

    Now, it doesn’t make it okay, but it helped a great deal in understanding what was going down, and gave him a bit of a reality check. He doesn’t want to be someone that runs down on his wife, and he works hard to not be that guy. But that is his default setting, and it shows up now and again.

    He has always thought I was the hottest thing going, as well he should. I just needed to be… better. That’s the kicker. That’s what gets you. It’s the constant improvement thing that constantly shoved down your throat. We’re sold that what we are is NEVER good enough, we need to be___________. It’s hard to seperate yourself out of that crap. Even being well aware of it, I still catch myself buying in.

    The entire point of this post is… I understand that woman, I live a lesser degree of it. I finally got to the point where I said enough, and he decided he’d rather have me around. But yeah, the occasional comment is thrown my direction. Sometimes just to stir the pot, but sometimes he doesn’t even realize he’s saying anything hurtful.

  71. This is why it would be great if our society didn’t pressure people to meet specific physical requirements for personhood. See, a lot of the “awful” wives who “stop caring about how they look” are probably women who engaged in chronic restrained eating while thin. They had simply been dieting all along, but like diets, such attempts to force one’s body into submission are often doomed to fail. Though extreme dedication to disordered eating my put that off, it eventually comes and suddenly the woman is condemned for failing to maintain the appearance she had been maintaining. Its presumed that her thin state was her proper state, so the weight gain is clearly a sign or moral failure. Perhaps, though, she was just one of the countless people who live their lives desperately trying to manage their weight.

    If people were accepted for who they are in the first place, maybe such circumstances wouldn’t occur. Sure, some people will simply gain a good deal weight as they age. I know I did, for example. Its not a moral failure then, either. But our culture puts so much pressure on the ideal of thinness that I think there are certainly people out there who maintain an artificially lower weight through considerable and ultimately unsustainable efforts. Short of encountering a virtually non-existent “feedee”, the weight gain is not a product of intent or effort and should not be judged accordingly. They have not failed themselves and they have certainly not failed their partners. If their partner doesn’t want to be with a person who has gained weight, then they should walk away. Don’t sneak around cheating. Don’t get emotionally manipulative. Just walk away. If the physical attraction is important to you, THAT is your option. Berating and loathing your partner simply isn’t an option.

  72. oddjob

    You, too, can be having fights like Socks On The GD Floor, Why We Always Do What You Want, and Whose Emeffing Turn It Is To Do The Emeffing Bills in no time!

    😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

  73. oddjob

    Hmph! Spacing issues, I see……….

  74. oddjob

    How rare is that? It shouldn’t be.

    As rare as emotionally healthy, wise adults.

    Which is to say, “DAMN rare!”

  75. NameChanged

    As a fatty, pregnant, wife I take issue with this. I like myself; my husband likes me; my dogs like me; my fetus likes me (as I am the sole provider right now); and hopefully one day my baby will like me. None of this has anything to do with my weight.

    I have gained nearly 100 pounds since marrying my husband. He truly does not care. He found me sexy as a thin woman, and he finds me sexy now. I have a desire to be healthy, and if weight loss comes with that health, fine, if not who gives a fuck. I have not changed as a person as a result of the weight gain, but I have changed as a person.

    Five years ago I was a chain smoking college student. I drank heavily and did cocaine on a regular basis. Healthy no, thin yes. As time went on, I stopped the drug use, and focused on my education. I became more liberal, and married to a Republican (who was only a repub for reasons of firearms, but wev) you would think that would change our marriage. It did not.

    I decided to become a teacher. I did not want to be a hypocritical teacher, so I quit smoking. Did my husband? No, but he did not stop loving me. He looks up to my decision and appreciates the healthier skin.

    I graduated from college and quit working as a waitress. I got a job as a teacher, and much of my time is focused on improving the critical thinking skills of teens in a close-minded school. I have changed, but my husband still loves me.

    The point that I am trying to make–in an excruciatingly long manner–is that people change throughout their marriages. I would be devastated if I were the same person now that I were five years ago. We are meant to change and improve. Am I saying that weight gain is an “improvement”? Not in that way, but as a result of abandoning unhealthy habits, then yes. Marriage and love (as corny as this will sound) is about a journey together. That is the better and worse part (which, incidentally was not in my vows). That is what happens when you are married for more than 24 hours. We change.

    Mr. Twit could not handle one little change, yet he stuck around to make his wife feel guilty and unworthy. That is unfair. My husband has weathered many changes, and has a big one on the way. He is gleefully looking forward to the known and unknown, and that is why we are married.

    Sorry for the crazy long insight into my life, but it feels relevant.

  76. Pingback: For Better or Worse…Unless You Lose Weight at Shakesville

  77. You know, as I read back over comments, I just have to say it and say it in no uncertain terms : there is no inherent morality to being attracted to a thin person versus a fat person. To couch the argument in terms of morality is to totally recast the argument into whether or not certain body types are moral.

    Fat is not a moral issue. Being attracted or not attracted to fat is not a moral issue.

    Considering someone a nonperson because they are fat IS a shitty thing to do and probably reflects on the relative morals of the person doing it but it is not a moral issue because of the fat.

  78. Kate217

    Wow, Lissa, this triggered a memory I haven’t thought of in ages. I had a boyfriend who adored going out to eat. He was one of those “skinny fat” types. He could eat anything and not gain weight, although he had terrible muscle tone. Although he wanted to go to restaurants and bars all the time (he also drank like a fish), he’d piss and moan about my having gained weight (mostly because I was no longer in a position to work out 8 hours a day as I did for years before I had to start actually supporting myself). ANYWAY… I joined a gym and started going every day. The employees at the gym constantly remarked on how dedicated I was. My boyfriend’s response? Gifts of effing candy! Sabotage much, John?

    This was the same guy who complained about my temper (which was fine before we started dating). I worked really hard to stop yelling. From that point on, he would ask me a question like “what do you want to do?” or “what movie do you want to watch?” and not accept my answer until I was yelling. When I called him on it one night, he said “when you get to the point that you’re yelling, I know that you mean it.”

    He was definintely one who played on my insecurities to keep me around. He even admitted to me that he wanted me as his “girlfriend” (read “guaranteed lay”) while he dated other women. That’s 5-1/2 years of my life I’ll never have back. 🙄

  79. So some people are just attracted to “certain types.” Huh. What this means is that they really don’t care what person is in that body, just the body is enough. Maybe more than enough.

    Now me, my type is the intelligent guy. I’ve been with tall slender, short slender, short chunky, and currently am married to a tall guy, who is, really, obese. I used to worry about his weight, until the recent news that, hey, fat isn’t actually all that bad for you, just forget we said it. Now that I don’t have to worry about him, I can go back to appreciating his, y’know, voluptuousness.

  80. To couch the argument in terms of morality is to totally recast the argument into whether or not certain body types are moral.

    It’s easy to conflate “fat is a moral issue” with “how we treat fat people is a moral issue.” Fat isn’t a moral issue. How we treat fat people is.

    The distinction reminds me of nothing more than the cultural shift among straight progressives toward same-sex marriage in the last decade. Fifteen years ago, you’d still find a damn lot of straight progressives who would, at best, grant that “whatever they do in the privacy of their own homes is fine,” and at worst still come out with “it’s a sin.” And, yeah, homophobia used to be couched in concerns about “health issues,” too.

    Now, any decent progressive is right on board with “LGBTs deserve equal rights” and think the entire “moral” argument constantly mounted by the rightwing is bullshit. Now, any decent progressive knows exactly what I mean were I to say “Being LGBT isn’t a moral issue; how we treat LGBT people is a moral issue.”

    That arc is quite evidently operative here. I feel the same sort of uncomfortable resistance that I felt from some straight people on the same-sex marriage issue about a decade ago. Back then, lots of people thought I must be a closet dyke to be such a passionate LGBT rights advocate. I get the feeling some people worry getting down with the fat acceptance thing might put them on the receiving end of a similar charge: Must be some kinda chubby chaser.. There’s that same squeamish sense of “How is this whole thing going to affect me if I get on board? Do I have to be attracted to people of the same sex / people who are fat? Will people think I am?”

    So is required a certain amount of neutralizing of the “fat as a moral issue” horseshit that’s been drilled into all our heads since birth before some people can come along for the ride.

  81. Meowser, thanks for opening that can of worms so wonderfully and so well. I was about to do the same. I went out to do errands for a few minutes, and while I was gone, godammit, the thread got FAT!

    Phydeaux — Hey, putz! You’re supposed to tell me when you’re birthday is coming! I emailed you, and I’m marking my calendar for next year. You WILL be celebrated.

    ‘Liss and all — thanks for another out-standing post, and thought-provoking discussion.

    If anyone wonders where I stand on all this: I adore my beloved. She adores me. No matter what our physical bodies look like. I would suggest that, if you would fall out of love with someone simply because of a change in their weight/shape/size/looks, you probably weren’t ever in love in the first place.

  82. It is a really important distinction, Melissa, which is why I had to come back and just come out with it and why I am now so glad to read your comment. Because I think you are right that people who play this particular card are wary of getting associated “too closely” with fat acceptance. Which, of course, continues to point out how ingrained fat phobia is in our culture when having someone who doesn’t know you think you are fat is a horrible thing.

    There was just Aaron talking about the morality of attraction and I wanted to address that.

  83. Oh — and isn’t it funny how we’ve never seen a photo of hubby Twitchell?

    What do want to bet he’s got a nice little paunch?

  84. sorry, “what do YOU want to bet”

  85. There was just Aaron talking about the morality of attraction and I wanted to address that.

    Yeah, totally. I’m glad he asked the questions he did, though.

    Btw, can I just tell you I really thought it would be my “some doodz shame women just to have someone to fuck” that would be the controversial bit? Shows you what I know, lol.

  86. I think, for many, many people, the idea that men can be right serious assholes is less controversial than the idea that it is okay to be fat.
    OMG, how did our culture GET this way? We are so fucked up.

  87. Btw, can I just tell you I really thought it would be my “some doodz shame women just to have someone to fuck” that would be the controversial bit? Shows you what I know, lol.

    Ah well, Liss, for something to be controversial it must not be objectively true.

    Sadly, what you said is true, and apparently many of us know it.

  88. OMG, how did our culture GET this way? We are so fucked up.

    When do the Shakers start pooling our cash to buy ourselves a nice little island somewhere…?

  89. Anonymous today

    If changes in the physical attributes of your partner would affect how you felt about them, if their being altered physically in some way would make you not want to make love to them…don’t get married.

    I’m a regular commenter here at Shakes, but I need to post this anonymously.

    My ex-husband developed a rare disorder called Peyronie’s. (Might be spelling it wrongish.) It is a disease of the male genitalia. My ex’s dick shrunk about an inch and a half.

    And, yeah, it affected our marriage badly. We already had sexual problems and this didn’t help. A lot of it was him not being interested, or feeling certain he couldn’t satisfy me anymore (and WHO KNEW that if I said “I love the size of your dick” it would someday come back to haunt me? I mean, like if the guy said “love those tatas!” and then she had a mastectomy, is it his fault that she remembers and feels convinced she’s no longer attractive to him? Even if he assures and assures and assures? Yeah, that was me).

    But part of it was me. Part of it was that when we had intercourse it was…not the man I married. I hated it. I hated that part of our sex life.

    And no, that’s not why the marriage ended. Not even close. But in the thousands of things that I thought during the end of the marriage, one thing was relief that I would no longer be faced with that Alien Dick anymore.

  90. “When do the Shakers start pooling our cash to buy ourselves a nice little island somewhere…?”

    Fuck that. WE get the mainland — THEY take the island.

  91. Since we’re all so fucking fat, we’ll need the space.

  92. Right the fuck on, Portly Dyke.

  93. Noone you know

    My partner and I have been together twenty years, in which time she has put on quite a bit of weight. To the extent that our sex life has suffered, it is definitely not a lack of interest on my part!

    But she is a “different person”, at least in her own eyes. She has commented that she doesn’t feel like herself as a fat person. She doesn’t feel attractive, and that has affected our relationship and her emotional state.

    Certainly there are many factors involved in this, not the least of which is our society’s attitudes towards body size. And, this being the Internet, I’m sure folks out there will have all sorts of unwelcome insights they’ll be more than happy to share. Please don’t.

    I’m not trying to justify the husband’s behaviour in the orignal story, which was certainly reprehensible, but rather address some of the comments here, which seem to suggest that the only difference between a thin person and the same person fat is their appearance. Given our society’s fat repulsion (not sure that’s a good phrase, but I’m looking for the opposite of “fat acceptance”), that transition is quite likely to be accompanies by changes in self-image, confidence, etc.

  94. I keep saying there’s an absolutely gorgeous valley not far from where I live that has only a few Republicans living in it. We all move there, run them off with our ‘heathen’ progressive liberal ways, and turn the Primitive Baptist church into a brewpub community center.

  95. It takes a Person With Issues to stay married to a Person With Issues. Sometimes, those issues pre-date the relationship, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the issues are inflicted slowly, over a matter of time; other times they seem to come out of nowhere.

    When we enter a relationship with someone, we’re supposed to trust them, to have faith in them. Slow, insidious comments about weight/size/appearance/what-have-you can slowly pick at a person until they develop issues and insecurities on the matter. They wouldn’t lie to us, right? So maybe there’s something to what they’re saying. Maybe we DO look fat in those jeans. Maybe i shouldn’t have that other piece of pizza. Maybe i’m less attractive when i wear my favorite color… maybe maybe maybe.

    It’s a lack two things that are vital to a healthy relationship: communication and honesty.

    My first Relationship was an incredibly destructive one. Fresh out of my parents’ house, i had yet to seriously date anyone of the opposite gender (i’d dated more women than men at that point, but they weren’t relationships with a capital R). I was convinced that no one would – or could – love me aside from this asshat. He was the first person to tell me i was beautiful, and when i realized he wasn’t joking, i cried. But slowly, little bits of things he’d say or do would pick apart what little self-esteem i had. Eventually we had a co-dependent relationship of catastrophic proportions. When he finally left for good after 3 years, i spent about 6 months in a bottle of tequila before i realized what a favor he’d done me.

    For the next few years, i dated myself. Took myself out to dinner and a movie, kissed my reflection in the mirror, and learned to like myself as a person. I worked on getting over my issues as best i could. Since then, i had some sketchy relationships but nothing near as hideous as that first one.

    I love my husband with my heart and soul. He loves me for the person i am, recognizing that i am the same person when i’m sick or well, when i’m in pain and when i have enough energy to clean the house top to bottom, and my weight fluctuations are entirely irrelevant. More importantly, he recognizes that i am a person.

    We often, in our sillier moments, give each other high-5s and shout “GO TEAM!” We’ve talked about the GO TEAM thing, and it really is an analogy for how well we work and play together, and recognize that maintaining a healthy relationship requires both. What we’re really saying is “i love you.”

    This is the part where he wants me to say that in times of crisis, we come together to form VOLTRON!!!!!! And i will, because that’s what geeks in love do.

  96. OMG, Lindsay, my partner, in a moment thst was THE moment when I knew we could build a life together, said to me that he loved me because we fit together, like click fit together to form a more powerful whole, just like Voltron.

    It is so cool that your person also invoked Voltron! Geeks in love FTW!

  97. TR, that is nothing less than awesome. I think that geeks, freaks, and other weirdos are potentially some of the best partners in a relationship. We’re used to not being normal, and if what we see on the telly is to be believed, most “normal” relationships are utter crap. We defy normal when we have a healthy relationship! En garde, societal expectations! Take that! Have at you!

  98. Meowser, I’m way late to this party, but right on. Your comment is brilliant. And, JackGoff, I do think this is at least partly about what marriage means. People think they HAVE to get married, that it’s what one does–but clearly, as Meowser’s comment articulates, marriage does not really guarantee the things our culture pretends it guarantees.

  99. Sure, tastes differ. That’s not the problem. That’s the solution. If we weren’t being mind-melded by the media into marching in lockstep after one body type, we’d be defining what’s gorgeous according to our own lights. And then there’d be room for everyone, because we’re all different.

  100. Angelos

    So some people are just attracted to “certain types.” Huh. What this means is that they really don’t care what person is in that body, just the body is enough.

    No, but many times the “person” comes later.

    Of the women I’ve dated seriously, I’d say 60% ware attraction first (I approached her or she me, but the point is that we were complete strangers and had nothing else to go by), and 40% we met at a place like class or work, and we had opportunity to talk and get to know each other without the assumption of any ulterior motive, and grew on each other that way.

    Of course, they were all attractive to me in some way or another, but they weren’t all that ridiculous head-turner that I would have approached cold because “holy crap I have to talk to her.” And hell, many times that chick is dumber than a bag of hammers. Or, we could just have nothing in common. But I’m only finding that out because I’m attracted to her.

  101. Rachel

    Late to the party, but wanted to say hallelujah amen to the whole OP and many of the replies. Here’s why: my mother. More particularly, the way my father treated my mother when I was a teenager. She started gaining weight when I was twelve or so, and by the time I was fourteen my dad apparently decided that just cutting her to death with snide remarks wasn’t enough; he would do things like force her to stand on a scale to see the numbers. And it wasn’t even that she was that fat; she’d just had the gall to gain twenty pounds that she hadn’t had when they got married. They’d been married TWENTY YEARS by that point.

    Here’s what I got out of that, coming of age in that house: if I am not skinny, I will not get a man. If I am skinny, and then get fat, any man I have gotten will leave, or (worse, it seems) stay and be a snide asshole whose second job is taking my self-esteem to shreds. Any and all of my issues with weight, body image, and food can be traced back to my father. As he said, “you don’t want to look like your mother, do you?”

    I still hate him for that. He and Mom are still married and seem to have finally gotten over their issues, but I swear to God I wish she’d kicked his ass around the block a few times when he started that shit. He didn’t just screw up his wife’s life with his idiotic attitude, he screwed up his daughter’s life.

    The good news is that my husband loves me and thinks I’m gorgeous, as he puts it, “in whatever form [I] happen to take”– fat, thin, legless, boobless, hairless, whatever. He’s had to put a lot of work in over the past five years to help me get over the shit my dad put in my head, but we sorted it out together. I don’t feel like I have to worry about him getting irritated by my looks when I get big as a house during pregnancy, or when I get old and gray and wrinkly; he just loves ME. Everything I know about love, I got from him. He’s totally stuck with me now. 🙂

  102. Thorn

    Shorter Mr. Twitchell: I expect my possessions to stay the way they are unless I decide they should change. My fishing reel managed to not gain any weight – what’s your problem?

  103. bbrugger

    I look at that article and I want to drive to her house, take her out to coffee, sit her down, look her in the eye and say ‘You deserve to be fucking CHERISHED. If he can’t or won’t do that, get out.’

    I’m 51, my husband and I have been together for over 20 years and married for 6. I’ve been a size 2, I’ve been a size 12. Whatever size I am, he loves me and he thinks I am Hottness Personified.

    It’s like this- both of us have had really long hair, really short hair and all the stages inbetween. But we’re still ourselves. I can no more imagine saying ‘I got my husband back’ because he grew his hair back out than because he dieted back down to a 28 waist jeans.

    That’s not who I love. That’s not who I married. Who I love is inside him. It’s there no matter what he weighs or how long/short/non-existent his hair might be. And he feels the same way.

    If I could teach one thing to children to combat the fat hatred and the shaming, it would be this- you deserve to be fucking cherished.

  104. bbrugger, you are awesomeness personified. That is all. 😀

  105. GiniLiz

    Didn’t catch a mention of it, yet (though that doesn’t mean it wasn’t mentioned — lots to read here), but this reminds me of Meme Roth’s “wedding dress challenge” and her quote that women commit fraud on their wedding days when they don’t intend to maintain their wedding day weight after the wedding. How many women (my mother comes to mind) diet their way down to a marriageable weight and then, of course, gain weight later? As for the comment that this woman must have “let herself go” because she was able to take off the weight later — (deep breath for a repeat of something I find myself saying at least once a day these days) — Weight loss plans often do work. Temporarily. And at great risk to the health of those who attempt them. The recent optimistic report from the CDC claiming most dieters can maintain the weight loss only followed those dieters for 3 years. We know most weight is regained by 5 years. And that regain puts one at greater health risk than simply maintaining a high weight. Even if one is “good” and “stays on the plan,” regain is often inevitable because the body fights weight loss through hormonal and other metabolic changes. Those who “successfully” maintain often must eat far less than what they ate to lose and far less than what naturally thin people eat. Not that the woman needed to justify her weight gain or loss to any of us. Or her husband.

    And finally, on the attraction bit, I don’t think we have to insist that people become sexually attracted to fat people to get on board with fat acceptance. However, I agree that “but I’m just not attracted to them” it is a “please don’t make me get too close to them” reaction that often comes up when people are first dipping their toes in this pool. Guilt and moralizing the issue probably won’t help, but neither will coddling people and reassuring them that they can stay unattracted to fat people. Personally, I entered the ‘movement’ with similar concerns (“But I don’t want to have to date a fat person even if I am fat” and “But any fat person who is attracted to me must just have low standards because all fat people will take what they can get”) and then moved to the worry that it made me a bad fat activist (“Do I have to be attracted to other fat people to be good at this?”) and then just relaxed, consciously looking for beauty in all people, not making it sexual but simply being open to truly connecting with a wider variety of people. And one day I found myself with a major crush on a fellow fat. And then it happened again. And then it expanded to other body differences. This did not make me a “good” and “moral” person. This did not occur at my own will. But it did convince me that our socialization (from the appearance of those who raised us to that ever-present peer pressure to, of course, the media) does have some effect on our attraction even if we consciously don’t want it to. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s there. Trying to argue oneself into finding more people attractive is probably pointless, but consciously trying to connect with something of beauty in every human we encounter probably can’t hurt either.

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  107. I’m not trying to justify the husband’s behaviour in the orignal story, which was certainly reprehensible, but rather address some of the comments here, which seem to suggest that the only difference between a thin person and the same person fat is their appearance. Given our society’s fat repulsion (not sure that’s a good phrase, but I’m looking for the opposite of “fat acceptance”), that transition is quite likely to be accompanies by changes in self-image, confidence, etc.

    I sincerely doubt anyone here, especially the fatties, would disagree that fat people can be burdened with profound self-esteem issues directly related to being fat.

    But let’s be very clear here: There is no intrinsic difference between being thin and being fat. Just being fat itself does not change who someone is.

    And what’s being discussed is responding to a story about a husband who treated his wife differently just because of how she looked. To presume that she changed, when those facts are not in evidence, is to blame her without reason for the way she was (badly) treated.

    It is possible to get fat without losing oneself. I was already fat when Mr. Shakes and I met, but I gained a lot of weight after quitting smoking and I feel like more of a “fat person” now. But my self-esteem hasn’t changed. I really am the same person I was a year ago. It’s simply incorrect to say everyone who gets fat has a notable personality change.

  108. OK, folks, I’m going to talk to you here as someone who has gained a lot of weight since meeting my DH.

    When I met him, I was on Cambridge Diet trying desperately to get my weight below 100 pounds, which is what the “ideal weight charts” say I should weigh at my height, which is under five feet tall. I started out at 118, I now weighed 105 after being on this diet and working out for an hour and a half (1/2 on machines, 1 hour aerobics class) five nights a week. When we started dating, I was terrified to eat, I was hungry all the time because I didn’t dare eat, and I’m one of those people who has to have “a little something” every 3-4 hours or I get headachy and tired and bitchy. My insanity about food, he said, was worse than any possible weight gain. His last girlfriend was a somewhat large woman, so it wasn’t as if he was talking out of his ass.

    It is now 23 years and many pounds later and he is still here. If I were a compulsive overeater or completely lazy, he might not be. But he has seen the battle I’ve fought and he’s seen me be careful and he’s seen me get exercise and he kind of realizes how hard it is, for all that he gains 30 pounds every winter and loses it every summer and seems to be able to go days without food and never miss it.

    But if he’d always been attracted to woman as thin as I was when we met, I just don’t know. I think that to make love contingent on someone’s looks is a losing game, particularly if you are young when you meet and you stay together for a long time. Sooner or later you are going to get crows feet and sagging. If you’re lucky, your guy will realize that he too has crow’s feet and he’s balding and he’s not getting any younger — and you just chalk it up to longevity.

  109. One more thing: If the person who gains weight allows the weight gain to change who he or she is, i.e. if a confident thin person turns self-loathing after gaining weight, and doesn’t want to go on vacation, or a bike ride, or any of the other mutual interests a couple might have, because of feeling self-conscious, then yes, gaining weight COULD mean you’re no longer “you.”

  110. GiniLiz

    Actually, with regard to personality changes and whatnot with weight change, given how much weight (pun intended) our society places on body size, changes in body size can affect one’s personality and outlook if one is deeply entrenched in the weight-is-everything perspective. I’m thinking about the studies of increased divorce after weight loss surgery, for instance. We place so much value on body size, an extreme change in it could change one’s identity and whatnot. We need to address that to get to the root of the reality that weight is not the same as who one is.

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  112. astraea

    Hallo,
    I’m so grateful for these topics. I’ve had a weight “problem” for most of my life, starting when I was in junior high school and my doctor expressed concern that I weighed 115 pounds. He said, You’ve got to watch out, once you get up to say 125 you’ll start having problems. I was 14. Now at 31 I weigh 190! This after 15 years of worrying about my weight, exercising obsessively, then gaining it back. I dated someone who told me that my boobs looked a lot better (aka larger relative to the rest of my frame) when I was at a lower weight. Sigh. When I was diagnosed with PCOS my weight became, to me, an indicator of simply the way my body was processing all the variables — not so healthy diet, a desk job, and lots of stress. Ironically, once I started focusing on eating good, unprocessed food, and gaining strength through weight training and such, I felt better not because of any weight loss but because I my body felt like it was functioning more smoothly (not as many low-blood sugar episodes, more energy). I’m still really overweight, and my partner is very slender, and it matters not one whit to her. She supports my desire to be active/healthy, and she calls me out on any self-deprecation regarding my weight. It’s a wonderful place to be. I really wish that people could be spared the emotional struggles of our fat-phobic culture.

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