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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Weight and appearance

61 replies

Simpkins · 07/01/2013 11:58

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?

OP posts:
Bonsoir · 07/01/2013 12:01

Oh gosh you poor thing. You have a lot of emotional baggage and you are very fragile.

What, apart from your weight, is very critical to your identity?

Simpkins · 07/01/2013 12:09

Do I really Bonsoir? Not being disingenuous at all- are these lots of issues? One of the "things" about not really dealing with emotional stuff is that I tend to downplay anything so never quite sure what is a "big thing" and what is not!

Re: what's critical to my identity- ummmmmm- tolerance? Not really sure.

Why is weight so bloody well intertwined with womens' view of themselves!!!

OP posts:
musttidyupAllTheChristmasShite · 07/01/2013 12:19

My husband treats me differently since my weightloss. He's more attentive and affectionate. It's nice that he really fancies me again so, no, I don't think he's a twat for it, I think it's natural. He still loved me when I was fat, but now he loves me and fancies me too. I don't blame him - I now like the way I look for the first time in my whole life (with the exception if my pregnancies, which I loved) so why shouldn't he?

musttidyupAllTheChristmasShite · 07/01/2013 12:20

Why is weight so bloody well intertwined with womens' view of themselves!!!
We, for me, because I look and feel so much better without the extra weight. But that's easy to say after having lost it I suppose.

Simpkins · 07/01/2013 12:29

Musttidy- my dh does have a tendency towards being a bit controlling, and whilst he knows this and we sort of work together on managing that I do worry that he would "reward" me with nicer treatment if I was thinner. Because I know how much prouder he would be of me if I wasn't this overweight. His background is one of "fat people are lazy and repulsive, the disgusting overwight stupid fools" and whilst he doesn't outwardly believe this, there is a bit of that attitude somewhere in there.

But then I haven't discussed this with him and so maybe I am being unnecessarily crititcal!

OP posts:
TeapotofDoom · 07/01/2013 12:32

I have PCOS so my weight fluctuates. At one point, I lost nearly 40lb and was very disenchanted by some people's reactions. My niece, who is morbidly obese, made some really bitchy comments - she felt threatened because she had been hiding behind excuses why she hasn't got healthy her whole life, then I go and do it, despite obstacles. My SIL was blethering on about my nephew losing 20lb - but never even once remarked on me going down 5 dress sizes.

My husband loved me at any weight but for me, the weight loss had the opposite effect. I began to resent him for being equally attracted to me at my fattest as I felt that meant he didn't care that I was unhealthy. (Weight makes the PCOS symptoms far worse, and can risk you tipping over into diabetes, etc, much faster than for a woman without PCOS - which he knew). I wondered then if he had ever really loved me, as I got no tough love when I was fat.

Meantime, some of his male friends treated me like a whole new person - were creepily all over me, in fact. One of them had a morbidly obese wife who he makes no secret of no longer fancying, and he kept making wistful remarks along the lines of he wished his wife had done what I'd done... Which I thought was vile! My weight loss (which was over two years, so not dramatically fast) made me see people very, very differently.

I realise now I was too hard on my husband. But maybe should have given his pervy friend a piece of my mind, rather than bit my tongue when he used my weight loss as a stick to beat his poor wife, with.

Simpkins · 07/01/2013 12:39

Teapot- 40lbs (or thereabouts, wherever you've ended up at) is such an achievement! Hope you celebrated it :)?

I suppose my dh is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't- if he's nicer to me should I lose weight then he's shallow, if he is the same then he didn't support me enough in wanting to lose weight. No wonder we just don't discuss my weight, he's probablby terrified of getting it wrong :)

OP posts:
TeapotofDoom · 07/01/2013 13:24

Simpkins, I celebrated and then within weeks, my dad went into the final stages of his illness and died. After that, I totally stopped caring. Now I have that same 40lb to lose again! So am in the same boat as you.

I'm wondering if we're not a bit similar in that we self-sabotage. I didn't go on a crazy faddy diet, but lost weight painfully slowly and carefully by eating wholefoods, and just being sensible really and never, ever cheated, felt hungry or had a problem with it. But the end of my weight loss coincided with what was to be one of the toughest times in my life, as I was very close to my dad, and it has taken me maybe five years to get back to the point I feel I am ready again, to eat clean and sustain it, this time.

I think, like me, you just need to let go of all the over-thinking and just plunge in and go for it in whatever way seems best to you. x That's what I'm doing.

That 40lb was radical enough for me to see how people's reactions to me changed and I really didn't like it but now, looking back on that reaction, I wonder if I was already sewing the seeds of sabotage when I reacted so badly to the creepy friend, and my family's bitchiness/ignoring my achievement? I mean, I thought I was doing it for myself. But maybe, I still wasn't ready.

musttidyupAllTheChristmasShite · 07/01/2013 14:17

It has a lot to do with how I feel. Slimmer so more confident and happier with myself, household is happier, husband is happier. I really enjoy the fact that he is proud of me but I do see the flip side that he wasn't so proud before but if I was pissed off about that I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face IYSWIM.
I think the bottom line is what weight loss will do for you and bugger anyone else's attitude to it.
For me the moment was when my eldest DC 'noticed' that I was fat am you know how tactless they are Grin. It made me realise that I wanted to be healthy and slimmer and live a longer life. And I wanted to look like to peron I felt like. Now the big thing is keeping it off Smile.

musttidyupAllTheChristmasShite · 07/01/2013 14:18

teapot what a shitbag the creepy friend is.

TeapotofDoom · 07/01/2013 15:11

musttidy, he was an idiot - all over me the minute I was size 12, and acted like I was invisible when I was bigger... The way it revealed his attitude to his wife's size was the worst part. They were very committed catholics and he told my husband he didn't believe in divorce, so he felt he was 'stuck' with this large woman who wasn't the woman he married. Idiot. We were all middle aged anyway - and the most interesting part is, he was well overweight himself.

mindosa · 07/01/2013 15:44

All men prefer their wives with better figures. Of course your husband loves you larger but he will desire you more when you are slimmer, which will result in more physical attention.

There are no advantages being overweight. Its not a feminist issue.

AbigailAdams · 07/01/2013 16:43

"All men prefer their wives with better figures....Its not a feminist issue."

He he he. Best laugh I've had in ages. Grin

catwomanlikesmeatballs · 07/01/2013 17:59

People will think of you differently when you lose weight but you shouldn't care what they think as long as a healthier lifestyle makes you feel better about yourself.

MMMarmite · 07/01/2013 22:00

Mindosa Of course weight is a feminist issue. What figures are considered beautiful varies from culture to culture, it's not all hard-wired in. The strict beauty standards that women (and to a lesser extent men) are held to, and the way women are treated when they don't conform to those standards, are an important problem for feminism to tackle.

snowshapes · 08/01/2013 09:41

I agree with MMMarmite, what is seen as desirable and beautiful is totally cultural. The very thin aesthetic is very recent historically.

To the OP, though, I think cultural issues aside, I would recommend concentrating on what is important to you. You seem to have recognised that you don't have a healthy relationship to food and diet, so I would try and work on that - I don't mean set yourself a target weight, but maybe look for support and resources to address the underlying issues around eating, and then, I think, though I am no expert, with a more healthy relationship to food, you may find your natural weight and more acceptance of yourself. You have valid reasons for wanting to do that which are nothing to do with either your DH or how society views women, they are to do with well, having a healthy relationship to food and addressing your underlying emotional issues.

mindosa · 08/01/2013 09:59

MMarmite and Snowshapes. Fat isnt considered attractive in many cultures though is it and it isnt healthly in any culture.

I dont agree with the whole idea of exercising or starving yourself into oblivion but most slim (not skinny) women stay that way through moderate exercise and controlled eating. Surely that is a better way to live than being overweight.

Abigail I would think that most men prefer their husbands slimmer than fatter.
Why feel the need to defend being overweight as some rightuous choice - its not, its unhealthy and unattractive.

mindosa · 08/01/2013 10:00

Sorry edit to most wives prefer their husbands slimmer although I am equally sure that in same sex partnerships husbands also prefer their husbands slimmer!

BunFagFreddie · 08/01/2013 12:15

I lost about 4 stone in my late teens and I suddenly because visble to men. I had some male friends already, but plenty of the lads just ignored me until I lost weight. The fact that some women I thought were friends started to get really bitchy with me upset me more though.

Last year I lost nearly 2 stone and my friends husband went from being quite rude and taking the piss, to being far too nice. It embarrasses me and makes me feel uncomfortable and it has harmed my relationship with my friend, who is visibly pissed off when this happens. Losing weight changes the dynamics of your relationship with other women too.

Simpkins · 08/01/2013 12:39

Mindosa- for me it is a feminist issue. I feel that the way my body is viewed is not to do with whether being overweight is cuturally acceptable in general but culturally acceptable as a woman.

I am not for a second arguing that there are advantages to being overweight. I am saying that as a woman I feel terribly pressured to conform because of looks- nothing to do with health.

"Why feel the need to defend being overweight as some rightuous choice - its not, its unhealthy and unattractive." Your attitude is exactly the sort of one that causes hurt to people- whilst of course it is right that you have opinions about whether something is attractive or not, expecting everyone else to believe the same as you and criticising those people who do not conform to your own personal list of acceptable criteria is narrow minded and hurtful. The fact that I am actually unhappy with my weight makes comments like yours even worse.

I don't think you really understand what I am trying to get at. Me wanting to lose weight or not is not aimed at trying to get my dh to desire me more- that is totally beside the point and I would hardly have chosen to post on a feminist board about my weight problems if the only thing I was worried about was whether or not men fancied me.

And as to preferring my dh slimmer- actually no, I find him more attractive with maybe 1 stone above his "ideal" weight on his bones.

I am not morbidly obese. I'm 5ft 7 and a size 16-18, but I am worried about the sorts of issues that BunFag has experienced. I can imagine Buns how disappointed you must be in your friends, male or female :(.

OP posts:
snowshapes · 08/01/2013 12:44

Without getting into a lengthy debate, mindosa, what is considered attractive and what is healthy are two separate things. There is a quite a wide range of healthy BMI; but what is culturally deemed as attractive is at the lower end of this and into the underweight category. Also, what Western societies deem as attractive is very recent historically (compare 19th century or non-industrialised societies with late 20th/early 21st century industrialised societies), I would have thought that was acknowledged fact, there is a mass of literature on it, feminist and otherwise.

I'm not defending being fat as a righteous choice; actually I think if people eat healthily and exercise they will be a reasonable weight, but the problem is that there is still a disparity between normal weight for many and cultural ideals of slenderness, hence weight/food etc being an outlet for any other issues of personal unhappiness.

snowshapes · 08/01/2013 12:46

sorry, x-post with OP


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AbigailAdams · 08/01/2013 12:58

"Why feel the need to defend being overweight as some rightuous choice"
I haven't.

I am merely exasperated amused that someone comes on to the feminist section with such stereotypical remarks about women and then confidently declares that it therefore isn't a feminist issue. It is an attempt to shut down debate.

Feminism is a political movement. Pretty much any issue can be discussed from a feminist perspective. But one that adversely and disproportionally affects many women is most definitely as "feminist issue". A woman's weight, how women are viewed and objectified, villified for their appearance and their appearance being a constant source of focus ways that do not happen to men is what the issues are here.

AbigailAdams · 08/01/2013 13:03

In fact I don't think anyone on here has felt "the need to defend being overweight as some rightuous choice".

And maybe some women do prefer their husbands slimmer. But men don't get daily pressures of being told what they should look like, what they should eat, how they should look etc. They do not expect to be judged on their looks, but rather on what they do. You will find many many many more examples of fat men with slim women than the other way round. That is far more normal for society.

BunFagFreddie · 08/01/2013 13:10

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?

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