This is a disclaimer that what follows is my own individual experience and I don’t think should be made as a gross generalization to society at large. I do not hate men, and I do not think all men are horrible. Quite the opposite. But I will write to my own experience and you can take it for what it’s worth.
I was overweight in college intermittently. Especially in my Junior year I was at my biggest. Then I got very sick, and actually that kick-started a major weight loss period for me. I started running, and I dropped from a size 16 to a size 10 over time. I felt great. I had a lot of muscle, and I was more confident than I had ever been. My blood pressure was ridiculously low and overall I was the picture of health. I honestly don’t know what my actual weight was because I’m not into numbers. I know I dropped inches around my waist and thighs and shoulders. I know I fit into clothes and felt comfortable in clothing I would not have worn had I been overweight.
Flashback to being a size 16. I’d be out at bars with my friends in college, because that’s what we did. My friends at the time were very thin and attractive. So I was kind of the fat friend. I never got hit on, and I remember a couple times actually walking by guys and one of them just looking at me and saying “Fat ____” insert whatever horrible word you can think of. I don’t know why people would do that, specifically men. But they did. I never really let it bother me, because they were usually drunk or whatever, and I just didn’t care that much. But there are girls and women who do care and who are hurt by these interactions and it just fucking blows that our society judges women by the size and shape that we are. Especially our young and vulnerable women.
Flash forward, I lose all the weight, look great, and suddenly I’m receiving male attention. And every time a guy asks me out or buys me a drink I just can’t help but think, “Would you have even noticed me a year ago? Or would you have called me fat to my face and walked away?” I had this horrible mind block because where were these guys when I was four pant sizes up? I’m still the same person size 16 or size 10. But apparently not to young men. I remember this guy wanted to go to the beach, and at first I was horrified because I’d have to wear a swimsuit. Then I was like oh yeah, I got this. But would I have ever been asked out for a date to the beach when I was overweight?
Also remember this was eleven years ago when I was 22. I do think since then society in general has made strides toward being more accepting of people at every size. I read Seventeen magazine- don’t ask- it gets sent to our house specifically to my butch lesbian wife every month I don’t know why, we don’t have a subscription, but it shows up and I’m like why not? Anyway, there are always articles about self esteem and young women of color and ads with overweight women doing yoga poses for Nike and stuff. So I do feel we are making strides.
Flash forward eight years though. I get pregnant with twins. C-section. Breastfeeding. Two years of feeling and being fat again. I had so many flashbacks to my teens and early twenties before I lost the weight. I tried so hard not to hate myself because this body had brought two beautiful lives into the world. And my wife loves me no matter what size I am. So do my sons. And my cats. Honestly it was easier to be accepting of my body size at that time because I felt I had a valid excuse. Then the more I thought about it the more I’m like why do I need an excuse to be okay with how my body looks?
Flash forward. I started working out. I use the elliptical, do weight circuits, and Denise Austin exercise videos. Yes she is beyond cheerful and annoying, the polar opposite of me, but her video’s work. Most recently in the past two months I’ve been doing hot yoga twice a week. This week I did it three times! Progress. Hot yoga is an intense yoga class in 95 degree heat with 45% humidity. With 12 bodies in there it can get up to 99 degrees. I literally want to die. But I also have sweat off a lot of body fat. I’m dropping weight like crazy and I feel amazing. My clothes are fitting again, and those muscles I used to have are coming back to life. Enter the last two weeks a few men have hit on me while at work and just out and about. Honestly I didn’t even realize male attention was missing for the last two years until I dropped weight and started getting hit on again. I was like wow. What the fuck?!
Literally my own journey of fat to not fat to fat to not fat has pointed out to me how warped our society is. How men in our society value thin women. I have only been shown male attention when I am thin. And like I said in the beginning, I’m not wanting to make gross generalizations about all men. Because that’s really not fair as my sample size is very low compared with the number of men in our world. There are also probably many overweight women who still get hit on. This is just my own personal experience.
Now could it be that I am just happier because I feel so much better and attract people to me because I am happier? If I was a bubbly person I’d say yes. But I’m not. My baseline somewhat cantankerous personality has not changed at all with my weight and my wife can attest to that.
Then I’m thinking how can we raise our sons to not EVER be this way? I mean physical attraction is absolutely a part of every relationship and there has to be chemistry and attraction. But why and how are we grooming our children to think that attraction can only be to skinny?
I’m also not a proponent of people being unhealthy. Morbid obesity and obesity in general leads to heart disease, diabetes, etc. but I wasn’t morbidly obese, I was out of shape and recovering my body from carrying twins. And some one can be a size 14 or 16 and still be healthy depending on their lifestyle.
I don’t know what the answer is. But I know this is a problem. I’ve experienced it first hand.
By the way I’m also married to a woman so when men hit on me I’m like dude. Go away.
I work in psychiatry so I by nature am always analyzing human behavior. I just find it puzzling that when I drop pant sizes I all the sudden become more interesting. Our society is very attraction based and it’s so pervasive and sometimes overt but sometimes so subtle that we are not even aware of it. I wouldn’t be had I not gone through this yo-yo with my body weight over the last decade plus.
At the end of the day what I do for my body I do for myself, for my health, for me to feel good about me. I could give two shits what others think about me. But I see clients on the regular who do not have that resilience and who are overcome with intrusive thoughts about what others are thinking about them. I think part of the solution is kindness, compassion, and empathy, and looking beyond body size and shape to the person. No matter what size I am some people just don’t like me. I’m okay with that. No matter what size some people are though, they are still amazing people that we as a society are destroying one fat joke at a time. Remember when Oprah’s weight would yo-yo and it would be all over the news?
They focused on her weight instead of her being this ground-breaking amazingly intelligent Woman of Color kicking ass and taking names. After any celebrity gives birth it’s how long did it take them to lose the baby weight? Not- she is beautiful and just went through this trauma to her body, and has a beautiful baby. Roseanne- I hate that she likes #45 however I am obsessed with her show. Two main characters who were overweight and it didn’t matter. Ground-breaking. We need more Roseanne’s and Oprah’s and Maya Angelou’s, and women who are intelligent and beautiful and who are loved and admired at any size. We also need our society to be more open to this concept for the future of all our young girls.