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Can Your Mate Make Comments About Your Weight?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Between the conversations that took place in the Jennifer Hudson post and the adjacent post on facebook, I’m a little confused.

I mean, y’all know me. I can clear things up really quickly.

Apparently, my even bringing up or implying that something is suspect about a mate trying to encourage a woman to stop losing weight… is a problem. It’s as if I’m saying “there’s something wrong with men liking a ‘bigger woman.'”

Stop it.

I’m in a unique position with this blog. In short, I’ve been big and I’ve been small. I’ve dated as both. That being said, I’ve written it before, I’ll write it again. I was the bomb when I was big, and I’m the bomb now that I’m small. Stop trying to shove my round behind into that square peg. I’m not an anti-fat person.

The pushback in regards to relationships where one partner becomes… uncomfortable… with the other partner’s weight loss doesn’t make sense to me. That’s right. It doesn’t make sense. And my thoughts might tick a person or two off, but that’s okay. We don’t all always agree around here, but I love y’all anyway.

When I say that I question people’s defense of a man saying “I liked you bigger,” I think of the same situations where a man says “I liked you smaller.”

See where I’m going with this? It’s not about just liking “bigger women.” It’s about how much control your mate tries to exercise over your appearance — should your mate love you and support you regardless of your appearance, or should they feel justified in complaining (apparently, complaining loudly and frequently) about the changes in your body and make you feel some kinda way about them?

And think about your answer, because it goes both ways.

If you meet your significant other as a size 4, bear children and become a size 14, are they justified in making comments about what they used to love? What they used to enjoy about your body? I mean, you’ve endured traumatic events together, you’ve stuck through all that…. but now they’re dissatisfied with your appearance. Is it okay for your mate to make it plain to you – “I like a smaller woman?”

Flip it.

If you meet your significant other as a size 18, go through life changing events and become a size 6, are they justified in making comments about what they used to love? What they used to enjoy about your body? I mean, you’ve endured traumatic events together, you’ve stuck through all that… but now they’re dissatisfied with your appearance. Is it okay for your mate to make it plain to you – “I like a bigger woman?”

If you don’t think those two situations don’t impose an element of guilt and shame on the woman involved, I’ve got a bridge in Miami Beach to sell you.

Don’t think I’m being insensitive to society’s struggle with consistently telling women they’re “too fat” and “need to lose weight.” I just think it’s painfully myopic to say that a mate can comment on a woman’s weight when it reaffirms the idea that “bigger women” can, in fact be desirable… but “it’s a problem” when a mate comments on a woman’s weight when it sides with “socialized” society, that a woman is “too big” to be desirable to someone.

I could interject here with a rant about why “bigger women” need reaffirmation on their desirability and would cling to it in the form of hypocritical situations, but I’m not gonna. I’ll just let that go.

The problem isn’t the context of the mate’s complaint, to me. The problem, in my humble opinion, is the complaining. Period. If it’s okay for a mate to comment on a woman’s weight and make statements to her (as Jennifer Hudson has said about her significant other at least twice in two separate interviews, to date) regularly regarding their preference for a woman of a certain size, then it’s okay across the board. And all of us feel bad when we hear a woman talk about her mate guilting her into losing weight when she doesn’t feel the same. To me, this is no different. Guilting me into changing my body in ways I don’t want? No thanks.

I just… I don’t understand why it’s so hard to see that it’s insensitive either way it goes.

Am I missing something, here?

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Serenity March 29, 2011 - 4:22 PM

As long as the comments don’t border (and that border is HUGE) on abusive I’m good. Many men are visual individuals. If you change something about your appearance, they can act up.

When I was in college, I weighed 165. I dated a man who weighed 375. He could notice when I put on menstrual weight and was always in my face about not gaining. Can I tell you that that relationship did not last? On the flip side, my 1st/late husband never cared how much I weighed. He was particular that maintain my flyness (hair, nails, clothes, car. home) by whatever means necessary.

It’s just something about them. they are put together funny.


Malpha March 29, 2011 - 4:51 PM

If your spouse sees you trying to better yourself (whatever bettering yourself means to you) and acts snippy about it, it’s a problem no matter what it is, weight, education, career. Especially when you look at what the tend to say…

“But *I* liked this…..*I* thought you were fine like this….*I, I, I*”? They are just so concerned about them, they’re not looking at why YOU might be doing this and what YOU think the benefits are for YOU (and if they did look, they don’t care and think their I should be more important)

or if they do say you, it’s…

“You don’t need to be doing this….it’s not good for you….what, you think you’re better than someoneelsebutireallymeanme”. Controlling, catty behavior.

So basically, these complaints come from a sense of insecurity and need for control. A childish reaction of your mate seeing you focused on YOU and not on THEM.

Why would you condone that mess?

Gena March 29, 2011 - 5:34 PM

But that’s gender essentialism. There are plenty of visual women, too; being male isn’t an excuse for being a jerk. Some people do have their particular turn-ons and -offs, and if size or other visual stimuli are some of their make-or-break criteria, hey, more power to ’em, and if their partner(s) are okay with that, and okay with talking about it, cool.

But to say to one’s partner, “I prefer you [x], why can’t you/we be like we were then and/or why can’t you change back to [x],” when that partner is happier and healthier after becoming [y] is at minimum selfish, and potentially (and often) manipulative behavior.

Gena March 29, 2011 - 5:34 PM

Ah, Malpha beat me to it.

KiWi March 29, 2011 - 6:24 PM

I don’t see anything wrong with voicing a preference.

In a relationship one should have the freedom of stating preference as long as its not abusive or done in a malicious way. Now mind you I’m not talking something that can’t be changed but if your significant other said why would you cut your hair? I love your long hair! Would that be any different?

Now once you made your decision to do whatever they should drop it. Badgering someone about something is not okay.

Erin March 29, 2011 - 7:25 PM

Can your mate make comments about your weight, if it is causing you health issues?

I get what this article is saying, by commenting on weight the mate is trying to have control over the significant other because of the one’s insecurity(ies). But, say your mate sees you struggling with control, emotional issues, stress, whatever. Are they not allowed to say anything because it might be seen as them being caught up with a physical appearance?

I think some people get caught up in assumptions about the motives of others (not to say this is the case in your article Erica, because you are very clear) that they forget who is making the comment(the person they are in a relationship with, love of their life, etc).

I guess I just wanted to make the point that if this is an issue in any relationship there needs to be a focus on living a healthier lifestyle for both and not just for one to focus on.

Erika Nicole Kendall March 29, 2011 - 7:30 PM

In all fairness, I’ve written that we should allow people to come to us in kindness and love and express concern over our health and/or weight. The reason I wrote THIS in particular was because in response to my saying it’s suspect for a woman’s inance to beat her over the head with “I like me a big woman!!!111” women told me “WHATS WRONG WITH A MAN PREFERRING BIG WOMEN?”

To me, THAT response misses the point. It’s wrong for a significant other to put your desirability over your own personal preferences for your body. In the context in which this came, it was clear that a man was telling his fiancee that he preferred her when she was larger.

sadiqua March 29, 2011 - 9:15 PM

I agree with Erin, and saw that exact thing last night on Heavy… the guy had a fiancee and she told him straight up, I love u and want to be with you, but I cant watch you kill yourself slowly. She also stated she didnt want to marry him and they have kids, and then he left her a widow. Dammit, if my sig other sees me killing myself via weight (or drugs/alcohol/etc) i want to be told! Please point it out! That said, u can prefer someone heavy if you want, but dont hold yhem back from where they need to be health wise, and dont harp on weight/size either. Its about health.

Rosie March 30, 2011 - 9:44 AM

Someone said it perfectly in the other post, “women get married hoping their man will change and men marry hopping their woman doesn’t change.” Most men don’t like change! I personally experience, not with weight but when I cut off my long relaxed hair to go natural. It took a long time for my long-term boyfriend to get used to it but he did since he wanted to be with me.
But anyway, Erika I agree with you 95%. Your mate should support you regardless of your appearance especially when its bettering your health! However, what I got from J Hud, is that her man is not used the the change in her LIFESTYLE. A homebody suddenly goes out every night, a low maintenance chick turned high maintenance. Not only has her weight changed but also her attitude, lifestyle, fashion style, diet, friends, AND appearance has changed.

Eva March 30, 2011 - 10:31 AM

I think it all depends on the person, the type of relationship and the tone in which they are saying it i.e. if it was said out of love.

Now, if a person needs to lose weight because of health reasons and the partner is badgering them for losing weight, that’s not okay.

Daphne March 31, 2011 - 11:15 AM

However, what I got from J Hud, is that her man is not used the the change in her LIFESTYLE.

I perceived it similarly, and that’s why I took the comments at face value, based on what was in the OP. I didn’t hear or read anything beyond what was quoted. I didn’t know that Jennifer also spoke about it on her Oprah interview (and possibly other interviews). According to the quote from the Leno show, David’s perspective didn’t APPEAR to be about her weight loss specifically, and could have applied even if Jennifer was never overweight.

That said, two points I’d like to make in cosigning with Malpa and Gena:

One, it doesn’t detract from Erika’s point about the problem with some men trying to control their mates’ appearance. As an aside, it’s also why I have an issue with people telling women to lose weight/gain weight because “men like thin/bigger women.” I’m not against a woman improving her dating prospects at all or that being a motivating factor for healthy eating and fitness, but……ugh. Serious side eye.

Two, men get passive aggressive as well. Many people (in general) proclaim this solely the province of women, but no. Men can seriously pull the PA card. So instead of a man directly saying something like, “Why are you losing weight? You don’t need to lose any weight. I prefer thicker/bigger women, ” he MIGHT go the route of, “Why can’t things be like they used to be? Why are you dressed up all the time? Why are you going out more?” Blah blah hateration blah.

As for men not liking change – I’ve read or heard this often. I get it, but I think the larger issue (and where feminism comes into play) is when some men feel it’s perfectly valid to question, inadvertently sabotage, or subvert the change because it’s their women doing the changing. After all, you don’t see men pulling that stuff when it comes to their friends’ lives, their (extended) families’ lives, their co-worker’s lives, their bosses’ lives, now do ya? They manage to respect people’s choices in most other aspects, even when the change might adversely impact them. Yeah…..okay.

And most importantly, just as Erika and others have mentioned, how good of a man is he if he can’t support you making a change for a healthier you? Damn the change and the adjustment, it’s a serious red flag when a man continues to protest something that benefits YOU (and likely the entire family, especially with children) in the long run. Say what? Get outta here with that ish.

Cherished October 28, 2011 - 11:58 AM

The problem that I have with this argument is that it is controlling either way. It is kind of like telling your mate to shut up and not have an opinion about you when the truth is that we all have opinions on what we like or don’t like. Hopefully, if we are in a long term healthy relationship we are allowed to express them. The flip side to this is someone expressing them so strongly either way does seem like they are trying to control the other person and controlling a person doesn’t seem healthy to me. Another side to this is that most people learn to keep opinions to themselves about their partners weight, whatever their concerns or preferences are. Hopefully we gain a spiritual connection to our partners and love our partners enough to want to see them at their best selves…by how they can define that.

TY October 4, 2012 - 10:27 AM

I have stopped paying attention to what my bloke says to me. I don’t credit him with enough brain activity to muster an intentionally malicious comment so I will put it all down to sheer thoughtlessness. After all, what kind of a guy would call a 5″1, 110lbs woman fat?

Oh wait, a guy who’s 6″1, by freak genetics weighs only 141lbs and is baffled why the rest of the world isn’t as blessed.

Anyway I started running again, not because of the comment, but because I running makes me feel strong physically and emotionally (OK OK, plus it means I can drink that extra glass of pinot noir guiltlessly). What does the buffoon tell me? “Oh don’t run too much or you’ll lose weight and lose your boobs”.

My response? “Eat my dust, baby!”

Annette April 23, 2013 - 5:39 PM

No!! Straight up no he can’t. He can suggest work out routines. Maybe weight and working out together but he can’t. The maintenance guy noticed that I lost some weight. He said oh don’t lose any more you look just right. Where do these men get off thinking women are there to do their bidding. As if he has any control over my body. My body is my body no man has control over how it should look or how they want it to look.

Just because he is with me doesn’t mean he has possession of my body. If I have to constantly dance around and be controlled by how he wants my body to look we have no relationship. I am basically a puppet on his string. If that happens it’s over!!

Ceej April 24, 2013 - 5:17 PM

Can my mate make a comment about my weight? Not without my permission. As a recovering binge/starve anorexic, my mate must respect that comments about my weight or what I am/am not eating are detrimental to my recovery. If I ask him, “How do I look?” I’m giving him permission to comment positively or negatively. But if I order a cheeseburger at dinner, I am not giving him permission to comment “Are you going to eat the whole thing?” or “Do you know how many calories that is?” Don’t start none, won’t be none.

Generally speaking, I’m stopped talking about weight, calories, fat, carbs, weight-loss, workouts, my body, and food to my friends and family, only because I find that invites comments I may or may not be prepared for. If someone asks me “have you lost weight?” I respond, “I’m healthier, thank you for noticing!” And conversely, I shut down the convo when people volunteer their opinion about my food, weight, etc. Comments like “Are you sure you want to eat that” or “I thought you were on a diet?” get met with a smile and “Thank you for your concern but my health is private.”

Not without my permission.

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