Originally posted 2011-04-21 10:07:54.
I don’t love this topic, because it’s thorny. In fact, every time I blog about men and relationships on this site, it’s thorny.
Being “thorny” has never deterred us before, though.
That being said, this was posted over at Clutch. I’m just gonna highlight a few parts of it:
Weight is an emotional and challenging subject for many women who struggle to keep (or take) extra pounds off. While a lot of us fight to get our bodies “right” in order to stave off health issues, others feel that weight is a barrier for them when it comes to finding or sustaining a relationship. And for all the stories of happy and loved heavy women, our size most certainly can be a factor when it comes to meeting Mr. Right.
They way I looked in clothes (and what I perceived to be my limited dressing options) had great baring over my disdain for my size, but my desire to meet what I believed to be a better caliber of men had far more to do with my choice. I met a lot of guys even when I was much larger, but I felt that many of the guys I would have wanted to want me back weren’t interested in a chunky girl. Now that I’m on the other side, I actually think my line of thinking had a lot to do with my lack of confidence (see above). Either way, whether it was the increased confidence or the “improved” appearance, once I lost the weight I definitely met not only more men, but more men that I wanted to date.
However, there is something awfully unhealthy about your relationship to your appearance and your body being so deeply connected to your desire to be in a romantic relationship. What happens if you make the changes and you still don’t find someone? Or, if you find love only to find the pounds piling back on (this is the current challenge I’m facing, btw; I’m winning so far, but that comfort of a relationship has made saying ‘yes’ to dessert much easier than I would have hoped)? While I’m glad that I lost weight either way, I wish that I hadn’t waited until I felt romantically frustrated to realize that I needed to take control of my body. Ironically, not only has my current boyfriend dated chunkier women and isn’t nearly as interested as I am in seeing me get that elusive small dress size that I seek. Chubby Jamilah probably could have pulled the same dude, had I been walking around with my head held high.
In the comments, you’ll find this from me:
I surely hope that no one come and chastises you for what you’ve written here, because the reality of a lot of our relationships with our bodies is that we’re simply not sure what that relationship should look like.
It’s hard to develop a healthy sense of self when we so rarely see it… and among many of our peers, it’s taboo to even talk about weight in terms of weight LOSS. Hell, I run a BLOG about weight and I don’t engage in these conversations in public unsolicited.
I think it’d be disingenuous if we didn’t admit that appearance is an element of attraction. It’s why we put on heels. It’s why we put on makeup, polish, fix our hair to our standards, dress well and make sure we aren’t ashy, lol. It’s also just a hard truth to admit that – for one horrible, unfortunate reason or another – weight is also a factor that can come into play. Because women know this – regardless of whether or not they’d admit it – it becomes a big part of our relationship with our bodies, even though it’s a lil’ unhealthy. “You’re too fat… you’re the reason why I can’t get the man I want.”
I’ve written about this on the blog before – that, after losing over 150lbs, a lot of the men who weren’t giving me that kind of time before were all up in my face – and even though a lot of women don’t like what that implies, it is still a fact. Losing weight increases the dating pool exponentially – lots of men simply don’t see you if you’re at a certain weight; and once you start being “seen,” you start getting attention.
Whether its right or wrong, we still have to work over time to make sure that we are in tune with ourselves, and that is also something else that comes along during [what I consider to be] a successful weight loss journey. You learn to be in tune with what makes you feel bad, what makes you feel unhappy, what excites you, what turns you off, what makes you uncomfortable, where your weaknesses lie, where your strengths are… and that element of intuitiveness also makes you, overall, a more attractive person. You can be aware of the realities of dating and weight loss without letting it affect your sense of self in the end.
In closing (I almost said “in short” but this ain’t short), I believe posts like this that allow every woman a little private space to reflect on her own sense of self are important. We may not like what these things imply, but since there are very few spaces where these conversations can be had among women, we should allow these things to be said. They have to be said because those of us who have healthy senses of self can help our peers get to where we are, and that’s far more important than any harm Jamilah’s words could bring.
Sorry for the hellalong comment. I’m pretty sure my readers are used to it, but this ain’t MY blog. LOLOL
Now, I was all done with it until someone sent me the link again, and I saw the following response to my comment:
While it’s great to hear success stories, I’d be interested in hearing from folks who are actually ON the journey and trying to date. Because in reality, it takes TIME to lose the weight if it’s anything over 10 pounds, so do women not date until then? How do you cope through that? And how does it help/hurt your self esteem while you’re transitioning? Or do you just remain invisible and cope with that until you’re an “acceptable” weight for being approached?
Surely, people have their thoughts about what the original author wrote, but I’m not one for shaming women for their reasons for wanting to lose weight. I don’t question a woman’s reasons for not wanting to lose weight, so I afford women who do want to lose the same courtesy. (If anything, I care far more about how you go about it than anything else.)
That being said, I’m more interested in the questions asked afterward. How do you handle dating while losing weight? I’ve already admitted that after a break-up in the early part of my journey, I became abstinent and didn’t date. I was not only vulnerable, but working through insecurities that would’ve only made dating an embarrassing experience for myself. I valued having time that was mine and mine alone because, quite frankly, I’m dope and interesting when I actually pay attention to myself and learn about me.
I mean, I can understand a desire to date – if for no other reason but the sake of company and being sociable – but I wonder if there’s a part of a woman’s journey (and I specify gender there for a reason) where, if it’s extensive enough, she’d benefit from not dating. My journey was like literally demolishing a building and rebuilding it from scratch. Would you let anyone set up their home in your building, knowing that it wasn’t completely solid, sturdy or even able to provide adequate shelter? If a house is still being actively rebuilt, I wouldn’t rest my head in it.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for people to understand why I made the decision I made. Lots of women balk at the idea of remaining abstinent during their “rebuilding” process. Lots of women have “journeys” that are nowhere as complicated or extensive as mine was, and that’s okay (shoot, as much as I had to deal with about myself, I can only hope there aren’t a billion women out there dealing with those kinds of issues.) I’m just wondering about the wide spectrum of choices looks like for women losing weight out there, because while I’m positive that there are plenty of us who’ve chosen to go either way on this one… I’m also positive that there are women out there who are unsure and may very well be needing different viewpoints to help her make her own decision.
So… I’m curious. Did/do you date? Did you decide to fall back? What compelled you to make that decision?
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