Weight and appearance

(62 Posts)
Simpkins Mon 07-Jan-13 11:58:17

This is a bit of a personal rant, I'm hoping others out there will have opinions to share too though so we can vent together!

I have a weight problem and have done so for my whole life. I've come to the conclusion in recent years that my issues were terribly emotional ones- I am scared of failing at losing weight, and so the myriad diets I have "done" have not really started as I have not wanted to admit that I'm on them so as to not risk failing (how fucked up is that?) I also eat when I am trying to drown my emotions out- which I do a lot as the envioronment I grew up in, whilst loving and happy, was also about making sure everything appeared fine even if you were dying inside (mum was dreadfully unhappy married to dad and this was terribly obvious to my sister and I but we never acknowledged it and still haven't in any detail) and sadly I learned this very well and am now repeating this pattern. That's a whole other thread though!

On a personal level, I think that I am "frightened" of losing the 3 or 4 stone that I need to as I am so so SO cross that people will think of me differently. Why the hell should they? I will still be me, I am disappointed in "society" if all of a sudden I am slimmer and - hey presto! I am not invisible any more. Its almost like my weight is a way of shunning the way that I feel society prizes thinness- but at the same time I know that I need to lose some serious lbs for health reasons. I want to be around long term for my children and for me to enjoy life. I did lose weight in my teens and I know from first hand experience that I went from a nobody at school to having lots of attention in a matter of weeks- I lost a fair bit of weight one summer due to just generally growing up and having an active time for the 6 weeks, and all of a sudden people wanted to know me. I was just a kindly swot before that. This makes me FURIOUS. It didn?t at the time of course, I was thrilled that I was suddenly popular.

In particular, if my husband ends up treating me more nicely because I am thin (which I am terrified of as I think it is amost a certainty) then I will have to make a difficult choice- do I stay with a man that quite plainly does not love me for "me" but what I look like? I am not sure if I can bear the disappointment in him or even myself for choosing such a twat, if you'll pardon the expression.

So many issues here!

Has anyone else been in a simlar position with wanting to lose weight? What were your experiences?

GiveMeSomeSpace Fri 18-Jan-13 16:26:26

I think that a large part, if not the majority, of the change in other peoples attitude towards us is because we are happier in OURSELVES when we are in better shape. Happier people are more attractive. I dont think the physical side is a big as the personality side of things.

And I think it applies as equally to men as to women. (I am a man)

Lifeissweet Fri 18-Jan-13 10:52:29

A lot of the OP rings bells with me. My weight yoyos from overweight (BMI of 28/9 at biggest) to the middle of normal (around 22/3) and I have a very odd relationship with my weight and with food. I find I am unhappy with my weight at it's highest and strive to get thinner. I find that the effort it takes to lose the weight can be pretty all-consuming. When I have had success at it is has been because of absolute determination, which can rather take over. Then, when I get to a sensible weight I feel oddly deflated. I am irritated by people making comments as if I have suddenly become a better person. I hate the fact that my Mother seems to approve of me more when I am thinner. I don't like getting people's approval for my weight. It annoys me because people don't tend feel the need to express approval about other aspects of me as an individual, so why about my weight?

I am heavy at the moment - and unhappy about it, even though I am perfectly health (I sometimes think people mistakenly think that fat always equals unhealthy. Yes, it does in a lot of cases. Certainly being obese does, but I have never been obese, just larger than what is considered in the 'normal' range. I am fit and active and rarely ill. I cycle to work everyday and I eat good stuff (just too much of it). I can't be content, though, because I feel such a pressure to be thinner. It is almost as though I feel being big is a character flaw of mine.

For those trying to say it's the same for men - it really isn't. Being overweight as a man is not the same. My DP is overweight. He has a similar BMI to mine at the moment (27), but looks chunky and well built rather than fat. He talks about needing to lose a few pounds, but doesn't feel the same sense of shame and guilt about his size that I do (and I think women as a whole tend to). It is just a fact and he will maybe do something about it when he feels like it. I loathe myself a lot of the time.

Xenia Fri 18-Jan-13 09:36:12

AC, I would hope most people would not comment on the weight of others. I don't think I've ever met someone and mentioned their weight to them. I am more interested in them as a person than how they look.

There is a real feminist issue in here. If people think looks are their main currency that is very very sad. My looks are 1% of what I am perhaps, if that. I don't spend much time in mirrors and genuinely my life is about loads of things such as work, children, hobbies and all kinds of things. Looking in mirrors and worrying about if my hair is straight just seems a world away from me and how I am and also we used to have a sin of vanity in the UK and sayings like - pretty is as pretty does, beauty is only skin deep etc.

We seem to have lost the view that fussing over appearance is a moral wrong. That is a pity which has done people of box sexes not much good.

Adversecamber Fri 18-Jan-13 09:27:28

I have had both CBT and counselling and they are very different treatments. I think you would benefit from having counselling regarding your childhood and how it has affected you.

A lot of disordered eating is down to emotions within us. I am the opposite in that I struggle to eat due to anxiety.

I have encountered a lot of hostility, only from women I hasten to add who have criticised my thinness.

I loathe the way lots of people feel as if they can comment on weight, it is so very personal.

Xenia Fri 18-Jan-13 08:48:39

Well... that conclusion is correct except for a few African tribes. So the question might be why do men and women want men and women who aren't overweight? It is not just engrained through sexism. Surely it is wise we do not have fat acceptance because if we trumpet that as a desirable norm people will die off or at least die early. Now that 60% of British people are overweight and we are the second heaviest nation on the planet it is just as well we are not all working hard to get to 20 stone as some kind of desirable nirvana.

Simpkins Tue 15-Jan-13 23:45:25

Xenia- its not that I don't think anyone wants to know me or takes me seriously because of the fact that I am overweight, more that I am pretty sure I will get a better reaction if I am not.

Xenia Tue 15-Jan-13 15:26:38

On the first post why do you think no one takes you seriously or wants to know you because of your weight? If women can carve out fascinating careers and get to the top they are courted for much more than looks. i could have lunches every day of the week with people who think if they buy me a meal they are entitled to time with me. They are not after my breasts but my brain, career and connections.

The richest woman in Australia is not very thin. The solution is get going on a career and people will want yo because you are the best economist in the UK or run a great business or are head of the association of girls' schools or whatever.

Simpkins Tue 15-Jan-13 12:22:52

Are you in my head curryeater? You have articulated in one little post something that I have never really acknowledged- thank you for helping me understand it!

I have always known that there is something a bit “fuck you!” about me not losing weight- a bit of defiance somewhere in it all. But I have never been sure where or why this has been. I have thought on it recently and come to the conclusion that now I would really like to lose weight for my health, and not for any reason of vanity (or toeing the line perhaps) that it finally feels achievable. I am still scared though. And from a feminist perspective the health issue trumps anything that media or society or even just my husband might think- I just want to make sure that I am here for as long as possible for my children, and so that my life is longer and I can therefore fill it with more of the things I want to do.

Thanks everyone for talking to me about this.

larrygrylls Mon 14-Jan-13 14:11:40

It was a feminist issue when I joined the City in 1986, when it was normal for all the guys to be several stone overweight and still have beautiful gfs/wives. Fast forward 25 years or so and it is very equal. Everybody goes to the gym because they know what being obese does to you, both in terms of life expectancy and quality of life. Nowadays, most women will also be quite judgmental about men who have piled on the pounds (just check some of the threads on MN about not fancying obese husbands).

Should looks in either sex have anything to do with anything? Probably not but we are still bodies and minds and it is natural to look at both when we interact with people.

curryeater Mon 14-Jan-13 13:52:19

simpkins, it seems to me (wild guesses from a stranger on the internet) that the problem is your husband. your first post is about a lot of things that "people" think, but a later post seems to point that this is about what your husband thinks. I suspect that a part of you feels controlled by your husband, or in danger of being controlled by your husband, who doesn't like fat people on some level, and if you lose the weight you are effectively "knuckling under". I think you should look at this and find ways of feeling free and safe from control within the relationship (this may mean actually changing some things in the relationship - I don't mean you "feel" controlled and it is in your head - I mean maybe you are being controlled, and you are fighting back through your weight) and then you might find yourself free to lose weight for yourself.

mindosa Mon 14-Jan-13 11:31:33

No I am not Rosemary Conley but the OP asked for an opinion and I gave it. I have no anti feminist agenda re weight. I simply think being a healthy weight is better for you and looks better.

I dont subscribe to the ethos that women should punish themselves to be stick thin, hairless etc but I do think that obesity is a massive health issue and we shouldnt try and justify it because of feminist principles.

The same way smoking and excessive alchol and dangerous to your health, so is being excessively under or overweight.

Darkesteyes Sat 12-Jan-13 16:15:08

Boulevard one of the reasons it grates with me is my mum has the same attitude as some of the Fat Police posters on that AIBU thread.
Someone like Beth Ditto will come on TV and instead of admiring her for her talent and fucking AMAZING voice my mum will sit there and bang on and on about her size.
You should have seen the look on her face though when Lisa Riley danced so well at Strictly.
I dont normally watch those kinds of shows but my mum had it on and got proved spectacularly wrong.

musttidyupAllTheChristmasShite Sat 12-Jan-13 11:04:34

But, we were asked our opinions. I am not definitely not the fat police but someone who had been fat/ obese/ slimish and am far far happier and healthier slimish. However, I couldn't really give a fig how fat/thin anyone else is.
Also, I was fat because I ate too much and exercised too little. No underlying issues causing it.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sat 12-Jan-13 10:19:08

Yeah, I can barely imagine the horror of dropping three dress sizes ballooning to a size 12 grin

Any threads about weight will bring the same few posters out of the woodwork, holding forth on the evils of being overweight. I call them the Fat Police; I imagine if they ran the world, it would be illegal for women to be over a size 10.
It's their own problem really, though. Actually caring that much about what other people weigh is more than a little odd if you think about it.

Unless they're sitting on you or something, then I guess it would be OK to be concerned.

Darkesteyes Fri 11-Jan-13 23:18:07

Im actually pretty appalled at some of the fat bashing threads that have come up on these boards. (there are two running on AIBU at the mo) and one poster has said how mums cant help going up to a size 12 despite going to the gym.
Yes a whole size 12. Im fucking speechless. You can certainly tell its January. A lot of posters are buying or subscribing to mags like Closer by the sounds of things.
FFS There are a lot of female mysogynists around.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 11-Jan-13 22:16:11

simpkins, just wanted to say that as another chubby swot grin i can totally understand the thing about not wanting to try in case you fail - this is a very fundamental part of my personality, but it's a really crappy negative one, and one that I'm trying to escape from!

Oh - I guess one thing that has worked with me in the past is to frame the weight loss/health thing as a fitness challenge; on a diet your weight can go up and down in a depressing and dispiriting way. But if you go to the gym/whatever exercise, you can usually lift a little bit more weight or jog a little bit further every time, so there's a lot of mini successes in there to keep you going IYSWIM.

shine0ncrazydiamond Fri 11-Jan-13 00:17:53

I've only read your OP but what stands out for me is how you are self sabotaging yourself. You want to lose weight yet worry about what will happen should you do so, as opposed to concentrating on the job in hand and letting the future take care of itself.

Maybe focus on losing weight for YOU and should you achieve this < which you will do if you stop sabotaging yourself with negativity > then see how folk are reacting to you and deal with it when it is actually a tangible issue.

Darkesteyes Fri 11-Jan-13 00:12:13

Just occured to me though that Simpkins and i are feeling the need to justify ourselves on a feminism board of all places.

Darkesteyes Fri 11-Jan-13 00:09:31

specialsubject from the day after Boxing Day to last Thursday (so for a whole week) i had that horrible winter bug. sore throat, bunged up, boiling yet shivering and vv bad watery diarrheoa. Because of it i havent had any diet coke since 30th December (when the stomach symptoms started) and although im better now i havent gone back to drinking it. ive been drinking an immunity drink diluted with water and i havent missed diet coke at all.
I also have shrunk my portion sizes after only eating small amounts after i recovred. Worst flu i have ever had but i thought i would use it to my advantage to change the way i eat. So something good has come out of something bad.

Darkesteyes Fri 11-Jan-13 00:02:58

Simpkins i understand where you are coming from totally.

Simpkins Thu 10-Jan-13 23:58:06

Mindosa, telling me my feelings are ridiculous really doesn't make you sound terribly nice.

I want to lose weight, I've made that clear, but I am also scared of doing so. Scared if failing, scared of being treated differently, scared of having to admit that I am fat.

I think you might be Rosemary Conley in disguise!

Dreaminbohemian- I did have a series of cbt sessions in the past. Whilst they worked short term, I found that they only addres the behaviour and not the underlying cause which ultimately meant that I just found other negative behaviours to replace the ones I successfully stopped. I am finding though that expressing myself more (about anything strangely, not jut food) is helping me to be more honest about food.

specialsubject Thu 10-Jan-13 11:12:11

Darkesteyes; yes it will, you will be healthier and reduce your risk of dying earlier.

Darkesteyes Wed 09-Jan-13 16:53:20

At the moment i am somewhere between 15 and 16 stone and 5"5 but a lot of it is on my breasts.
I comfort ate after my affair ended and am now trying to tackle it. Not easy when i now know that it wont make any fucking difference to my life anyway.

Darkesteyes Wed 09-Jan-13 16:50:40

Wow thats the first time ive read a thread on this board thats made me feel like crap.
Well guess what..... i lost ten stone in 2002-2003 and my husband STILL didnt want to touch me. (my situ is well documented on the Relationships board) So can we PLEASE stop blaming this on women and weight because it has nothing to do with it.
And apparently according to something said upthread i am now obese again. Great.

LeBFG Wed 09-Jan-13 12:30:34

Ah, but I think you are generalising from your own experiences too dreaming. There is no real innate preference for weight. If there was, we would see agreement between cultures and epochs. Culture has a huge part to play - in general I would say that most cultures view heavily overweight or underweight beings as unattractive (the exceptions come from cultural issues like, lack of food or lots of wealth). I would see this as more-or-less innate as it has clear long-term health and thus survival/reproductive consequences.

General characteristics that are pretty common across all cultures are that women are prefered younger (most fertile period) and men are prefered either as rough-n-ready (sexually provocative, agressive, short-termers) or naice-mummy's-boy (think boyband - unthreatening, caring, long-termers). Men like women who appear younger: slimmer, blonder, less-hairy. Make-up is used to imitate a younger, more fertile state: red lips (ovulation), foundation (smoother, younger appearance)....some men (thankfully) don't fall for this and just see the make-up grin.

Obviously, we are all tainted by our cultural unbringings and other factors at play like availability of mates (low-status men are less like to get a partner than low-status women for example), changes in diet/wealth...so many things that any great generalisations are silly - of course, some men love adult, full-breasted women etc.

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