Love: The “un-diet” (Only, not really)

I’ve been getting to read some fascinating things in the Young Adult literature class which will round out my Library degree this May.  The novels and non-fiction have been very interesting and the articles and websites have been eye-opening as well.

This week the class is focusing on “Support” for teens and one of the websites to review is beliefnet.com.  I love how the site actually has a multi-religion focus; though I feel like much of the material available is geared towards adults rather than teens.

More relevant to this particular blog, I was reading more on the site, trying to get a feel for it and what it had to offer when I came across this “new” two-page bit of writing in the Chicken Soup for the Soul section called “The Un-Diet“.  Intrigued, I read it.  It started out promising: a young woman has spent much of her life dieting in all the various iterations we’ve many of us come to know ourselves.  She finds herself, after a few month hiatus from such efforts, feeling larger, unattractive, self-conscious, and totally ga-ga over some guy at work in another department who she then attempts to dress nicely for; using all of the age-old camouflaging methods of black clothing and body-hiding.

I thought there was potential when the man she tries for asks her out and she enjoys herself so much that she “forgot to worry about weight, exercise or that much hated four-letter word: d-i-e-t”.  Huzzah!  Realizing that life’s bounty can be so much more important and life-fulfilling than calorie-counting or body-hatred equals YAY!  But no.  It doesn’t end there.

This young woman invites the young man to her parents for dinner.  On the night of her sister’s prom (Um, strange timing-choice to anyone else??).  Of course the young woman feels devastated when compared to her prom-dressed lovely (thinner) sister and bawls her eyes out in front of her boyfriend because she felt fat and (of course therefore) ugly.  Charmingly, the guy insists that no one gets to put down the woman he loves, especially not the woman he loves.

It seemed a beautiful affirmation: fatties can get love.  Stop berating yourself for your body; it is not your shape that dictates the love you receive.  Badmouthing yourself in front of your loved ones is NOT the way to go.  I thought: huzzah!, Right? Aside from the “OMG, get a man and All of Life’s Woes Will Be SolvedTM”; it was nice to see a bit of positive body-thought there.

But no.  The whole end to the article was that when the woman FINALLY stops berating herself and worrying about dieting…she ends up losing all this weight and floats down the aisle at her wedding in her perfectly taken-in gown, “thinner than I’d ever been. I beamed at my husband-to-be, waiting for me by the altar, and I knew it was all thanks to him. Bruce loved me just as I was, and that was the only diet I ever needed.”

Fuck that.  Seriously?  “Oh gods it was wonderful!  I fell in love BUT I TOTALLY ALSO LOST WEIGHT!  And that was the BEST PART!”  *Epic Eyeroll*

Listen, I’m glad she felt better. I’m happy that love seemed to improve her life in multiple arenas. But what about those of us who do fall in love and feel wonderful and have all that magic and DON’T end up somehow miraculously losing weight to “float” down the aisle?  Does that make such love any less valid?  NO!  And if the author’s point truly was that “My guy loved me AS I WAS”, then why was she so thrilled WHEN SHE WAS NO LONGER AS SHE WAS because she lost enough weight to be thinner than ever?

*sigh*

So that’s your Monday Roundshaped-Rant.  Did you fall in love and lose weight like magic?  Did you happen to stop dieting and regulate your weigh after some time of fluctuation (raises hand)? Did you stay just the damn same?  Did having (or not) the love of a partner drastically affect your self-image?  I know it shouldn’t matter but I do know that having Adam D’s support really makes a difference some days so I totally don’t knock that having a partner CAN have a positive influence on self-image.

As we are one week away from Valentine’s day, what thoughts do you have on love and how a person feels about their body?

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13 thoughts on “Love: The “un-diet” (Only, not really)

  1. I’m 31, AA, and still living at home with my parents. I’m an aspiring writer and currently have an idea in my head for a novella. I have experienced love in quite some time and my mother is a concern troll that seems to think my weight is holding me back. If only I would lose weight (I’ve tried, only to gain all the weight back and then some), all of my problems would disappear. I would meet Mr. Right, my snoring would stop, I would find a job (with a Bachelor’s Degree in English), everything would be normal. I’m a size 24 and its taken me a while but I love my body and me. I still believe in love and believe that there’s someone out there for everyone.

  2. My husband and I have been together nearly 20 years — we met when I was 22 years old.
    He has loved me and my body in many “iterations.”
    He recently has been trying to lose weight that he gained due to a medication, and I asked him, point blank, how can he love me as large as I am and not his own belly, that he’s wanting to be smaller.
    He says the two have nothing to do with one another. He doesn’t hate his body, he wants it to be different (and he’s not doing unreasonable things to himself). He doesn’t love me any less or expect me to do the things he’s doing. He knows I love him at any size, larger, smaller, and the thing is, it’s true for me, too. We are both still wildly attracted to each other, and it’s clear that size isn’t an issue for either of us with each others bodies.
    If I had one thing to do over, it would be that when we were much younger and hadn’t been together very long, I wasn’t comfortable with the look he would have for me, a sort of gaze, that was a combination of “I want to have sex with you” and “you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” I asked him to stop looking at me like that, it made me feel uncomfortable. He complied. And now I miss that look!
    But if I think about it, I know he still feels that way.
    We’ve had very serious ups and downs, and have veered toward divorce for very good reasons several times, but right now, we’re doing great. He is a fantastic dad — which is very sexy to me.
    I feel fortunate that we, and our daughter, have experienced each others love, no matter what the future holds.
    For context, I’m about 5 feet tall, and in the time we’ve been together my highest weight was 250 pounds, my lowest weight was 185 pounds, and right now I’m just about in the middle of that range. I wear a size 18-20-22.

  3. I’ve always had the attitude that if people don’t like what I look like, they can look elsewhere, but there were still items of clothing I wouldn’t wear – shorts, swimsuits, tank tops, sleeveless shirts – to name a few. Since I’ve met and married, and have the support of my husband, I now wear all of those items when I feel like it. As he says, most of the people who would comment on what I’m wearing are not people I know, are not people I’m ever going to see again, are not people who mean anything to me, so why do I care what they think? It’s nice to have that support, makes it easier to wear what I want to wear when I want to wear it and not have to worry about what anyone thinks of it (and DH always says I look sexy in whatever I’m wearing, even if it’s jeans and tee….lol).
    Note for those who don’t know me – I was 52 when I met DH (online), 53 when we married, I’m 57 now, and it’s my first marriage. So far, so good.

  4. DH and I have been together since we were 18 and will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this summer. I’ve had some weight fluctuations during our relationship, and my sweetie has always been supportive, loving and appreciative of my body. When I struggled with anorexia, he was the voice of reason urging me to take better care of myself while everyone else was telling me how “great,” “healthy” and “fit” I looked. Only he recognized how sick, weak and unhappy I really was. Now I’m the heaviest I’ve been, and DH loves me and my body as much as ever. I’m so thankful to have such a great guy in my corner. 🙂

  5. I hope that book you were describing was filed under “fantasy”. Because it’s just one more aspect of the Fantasy Of Being Thin. (I don’t even want to go into all the issues of wanting to be loved/being worthy of being loved the way I am vs. but I can change and give him something BETTER…never mind that maybe it’s not better in his eyes…ugh.)

    As other commenters have mentioned, most bodies change many times over time, so if you’re in a long-term relationship, you and your partner are going to have to make your peace with that. My body changes and love status have not been correlated – it’s more correlated to medical issues and movement issues. Having a partner helps most of the time, but he’s not my validation that I’m really ok – that has to come from within or I simply won’t believe it.

  6. When I married my husband, I was heavier than I was during the rest of our marriage outside pregnancy. He insisted that we toss all my thin clothes during my first pregnancy because he liked me the size I was. I was thinner after my pregnancy than before I gained 12 pounds and lost 22 so I needed to buy new thin clothes. My next pregnancy was the same, gained 22, lost 28. Then, I got a high stress job and lost more weight.

    During my divorce, I gained weight. I gained over 20 pounds during the start of my next relationship. I teased him saying that he feed me too well. We did go to a lot of restaurants during our courtship. I’m now about 30 pounds heavier than when I left my husband. My second husband, ten years so far, loves the fatter me. I have no intention of dieting down to my misery weight.

  7. between meeting my husband and marrying him, a period of about 2 years, I put on 20kg. Since marrying him, 13 years ago, another 40 have joined them. That means I have doubled my weight since I met my husband. He couldn’t care less. There are many many reasons for this weight gain, not that they matter, but I know the gain bothers lots of my family and friends in a concern we love you but come from a position of ignorance kind of way. It bothers me a lot more than it bothers my husband because I had to control my eating SO much to control my weight that it feels kind of weird to have let that control go.

    I have been told that because I fell in love I gained weight because I didn’t have to “catch” a guy anymore. As if I would want a guy that could only be caught at a certain weight. It’s because I stopped listening to people who couldn’t accept me for what I am, and started listening to my husband who knows who I am and loves whatever package it comes in.

    • Sim, I think you’ve hit on what my biggest problem with the relating of weight to love is: this idea that love can only happen at a certain size and if you AREN’T at that acceptable size; then it certainly can’t be real or lasting or what-have-you. When, as everyone here so far and yourself have pointed out; that couldn’t be further from reality. Love should not care what size your pants are and that’s what made me so sad for that girl in that article, who found a loving relationship but could only gloat about how that Made Her Thinner; as if THAT was the best part.

  8. I am not a regular commenter, but yes, yes I did.

    I was a fat child, a fat teenager, and a fat young adult. I had crippling social anxiety and severe attitude problems. After meeting the man I would eventually marry online in high school, I moved out with him several years later. It’s been been five years or so since we struck out on our own, and I dropped approximately ten sizes in the process.

    I think that for some configurations of human, the natural emotional and hormonal stabilization that generally occurs after adolescence combined with the increased physical stressors of jumping headfirst into the entry-level workforce just…does that.

    More on point, however, my husband’s emotional, philosophical and financial support and role in helping me start a different life allowed me enough breathing room and new perspective to release some of the destructive habits that I relied on throughout my childhood and adolescence. It speaks about him as a person, but the reality is that having a partner, for many, simply makes life easier. Sometimes things straighten out when your immediate needs are more fully met. I slowly changed my attitude, and my body changed too. Yes, I dieted and exercised, quite steadily for the last year or so as I saw the changes speeding up and decided to take advantage. It felt natural. I don’t mean crash dieting or a theme diet or anything–just avoiding soda, sugar, fried foods, etc and following recommended nutritional guidelines. An hour or so at the gym two or three days a week. I work in retail, on my feet.

    I don’t know if it’s relevant or not, but I guess I wanted to share. It happens, but nothing like that story. I think there may be something in the idea that a supportive partner of any kind can make any of your efforts a little easier.

    • Mrs. X I think you’re right that having a partner (especially someone supportive) could have a drastically positive impact on a person’s life. I know it has made my own brighter. I’m just not sure there are many folks out there who would have your story (or the extreme version from this story) which shows that love means a smaller body. Still, finding calm and peace are not to be knocked so huzzah for having someone wonderful there!

      • Thank you! He is wonderful 🙂 I think this is a good example of a wider problem; taking the exception, sensationalizing (is that a word?) it and expecting it to apply to everyone. It happens, sure, but it doesn’t reflect common experience. Luckily we have bloggers to fill in the gaps!

        • Mrs x: yes, I can only shake my head when what is so obviously a “This is how MY life goes so therefore it applies to EVERYONE” thing turns so quickly into some sort of common-sense “Oh, yes of course! It MUST BE TRUTH” thing.

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