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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?

BunFagFreddie Tue 08-Jan-13 13:10:12

Simpkins, I lost the weight because I knew I was having major surgery and I wanted to be a healthy bmi. It is disappointing, but more so when it comes to women changing their attitude towards you. I think this happens because weight and body image has become such a huge deal to women. In all honesty, I think it's more of an issue for women than it is for men. I don't doubt for a minute that DP finds me more attractive when I'm slimmer, but how much of that is to do with confidence? We still had a healthy sex life when I was bigger.

I am making a point of never commenting on other women's weight. Instead I will tell them that their complexion looks healthy and glowing or that they look fab in their new top but only if meant genuinely. Why bring size and weight into it?

ladyintheradiator Tue 08-Jan-13 13:11:42

I'm going to re-read this thread later but one thing stood out to me, op, that you wonder if you'll lose the weight and suddenly stop being invisible - my experience is (delightfully to me at least) the complete opposite - I've lost nearly 4 stone and finally feel like I can just blend in, not stand out and catch someone's eye purely because of my size. I finally feel normal. Though I relate a lot to your op and losing the weight was something of a journey, I do feel not only have I lost the weight but also a lot of the negativity I carried around, I was blind to how this was linked in my mind.

Also conforming to any 'look' is about far more than being a certain weight. I feel healthy and active now - this was my motivation to lose weight and remains my motivation now to keep it off.

snowshapes Tue 08-Jan-13 13:25:31

Re weight being a feminist issue – I read somewhere that because our cultural ideal of thinness is more akin to the pre-pubescent female form, girls have higher self-esteem when they are younger and as they start to put weight on their breasts and hips (a natural part of growing up), their self-esteem falls. Whereas for men, cultural ideals of manliness fit more with adult male forms, so as boys grow up (becoming taller, heavier), their self-esteem goes up.

Into the realms of my own speculation: I suspect that a man could carry a couple of extra stone and it fall within the parameters of normal, we’d just call him well-built, whereas a women carrying a couple of extra stone would be called fat? The same standards of slenderness are not applied to men, heavens, slender even sounds a feminine adjective. I’m wondering about slim – he’s slim, she’s slim – do we even think/talk about men in those terms? And if we do, it’s probably more descriptive than judgemental.

BunFagFreddie Tue 08-Jan-13 13:29:56

Good points snowshapes. It seems that men and women both fill out in their mid to late 20's and they get a more muscular and adult shape. This is seen as desirable for men, but women still strive to be very slender like a teenager.

musttidyupAllTheChristmasShite Tue 08-Jan-13 13:36:01

I definitely prefer the way DH looks when he's a bit porky grin but prefer myself slimmer. Because I look nicer that way and I can wear nice clothes, I don't think it goes any deeper than that.

FunnysInLaJardin Tue 08-Jan-13 13:44:38

Simpkins I really identify with the 'why should I' aspect of losing weight. It really annoys me that my weight determines how I am perceived instead of my profession.

LeBFG Tue 08-Jan-13 14:08:56

What is surprising to me is that men nowadays have been brought into the whole 'looks' and 'fatness' bleurgh that has so afflicted women I've known in my lifetime. A totally normal, healthy teenage boy I know is jovially teased and called 'fat' by his good friends because he hasn't got a washboard stomach and I'm told this is really commonplace sad. Men are dieting much more - it's no longer cute and endearing to have a wobbly midrift.

People are much more health conscious now I think - people are smoking less for instance. Fat, for all sexes, attracts more and more virulent distaste.

So I think this debate has two ends. At one end, is OP losing several stone a feminist issue? No, I think it's a health issue and one that affects both men and women. At the other end, does healthy women being pressured to conform to a particular body shape constitute a feminist issue? I think it probably does and should be lumped together with the eternal body issues like body hair and wearing makeup etc.

Women get judged more on their looks because they are the ornate sex whereas women get to do the picking and choosing once they've lured potential mates. I guess what I'm saying is we can only expect people/society to change through education to a certain degree. Women will always be judged to some extent on their looks because it's an innate, evolved reaction that is (unfortunately) difficult to override.

mindosa Tue 08-Jan-13 14:10:28

Snowshapes I don't agree with your comment re men and women with extra weight being viewed differently.

Men are generally a bigger build than women so can 'hide' weight better. My friend is a size 16 but she is almost 6ft and broad so she doesnt look particularly overweight whereas I as a size 16 would be very overweight.

A man who is 2-3 stone overweight looks it and to most people is unattractive.

I agree with everyone who criticises societies obession with unhealthy thinness as damaging to young women and I would try quite hard to ensure that my daughters dont view these celebrities or models bodies as 'normal' or desirable.
However I do not want them thinking that 2-3 stone overweight is normal either.

Simpkins You said you werent sure you wanted to lose weight as people might view you differently. I do think that statement is ridiculous in that weight is a health and wellbeing issue and what other people think of you is secondary. Sure you husband might find you more attractive, would that be a bad thing. Mine finds me more attractive when I have my hair/nails/makeup done and am dressed up for a night out. I prefer him when he is showered/shaved/in a good suit. The fact that we might not be equally as attractive to each other in jeans and a t-shirt doesnt bother us.

"There are no advantages being overweight."

Hmm. Current research seems to be showing that the healthiest BMI to have is around 26. Which is technically overweight.

So apart from the health advantages, then...

mindosa Wed 09-Jan-13 09:29:35

Ok one study in a sea of others that show being overweight to be unhealthy.

Don't think any study has shown that negative health effects start at a BMI of less than 30 (that's over 13 stone for a 5'6" woman) which is 'obese' not 'overweight' - but you might have been using the words interchangeably?

Willing to stand corrected if this is not the case.

But being overweight seems to come up statistically like drinking, a little bit is good for you but loads isn't.

dreamingbohemian Wed 09-Jan-13 10:24:38

The problem, mindosa, is when you start to generalise from your personal experience. So you and your husband prefer each other slimmer, nicely dressed, made up, etc. -- that's fine, but you seem to be saying that this is 'natural' or innate. It isn't. Everyone is different. My own DH honestly doesn't seem to care about my weight, and most of his spontaneous 'you're so beautiful' moments seem to come not after I've made a huge effort but at times when I think I look awful.

And there certainly are many cultures even today, even within Western societies, where being really thin is not prized. I spent most of my life in the US, in a city that's majority African-American, and the different expectations were very noticeable. I once lost 20 pounds and found all my white friends saying, You look great!, while all my black friends were saying, You look too damn skinny! There is even quantifiable evidence of this, as studies have shown that black women who are overweight have higher self-esteem than overweight white women (in the US).

OP -- would you ever consider going for CBT? I believe there are studies showing it's very helpful for losing weight, because it's all about tackling the emotional issues that lie behind it and changing negative thinking patterns. I think that might be a healthier approach than dieting or anything more direct, because the weight is less important than the emotional issues that are troubling you in several aspects of life (it sounds like).

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/ many things that any great generalisations are silly - of course, some men love adult, full-breasted women etc.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

Simpkins i understand where you are coming from totally.

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 00:12:13

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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