As most of you know at this point, more than half of what I do with clients is body-image development, since body respect is pretty much the sole distinguishing factor between people who feel crazy-around-food and people who eat “normally” without really thinking about it. (For the newbies, more on that here…)
A client recently asked me a question I get a lot when it comes to body image:
“I’m worried that if I don’t lose weight, fewer people will be attracted to me and I won’t find a romantic partner.”
And let’s be real, this question isn’t even really about sex or romance. It’s about our fundamental desire to be loved, by anyone and everyone, and our fears that our weight may be keeping us from receiving that love.
(For instance, worrying that my friends will lose respect for me if they see me at a higher weight is basically the same root issue, so feel free to extrapolate.)
So here’s my hard-truth response to the general comment: “but people would like me more if I were thinner…”
Wouldn’t you rather hang out with people who you don’t have to change and torture yourself for?
Wouldn’t you rather be with someone for whom you don’t have to drive yourself crazy around food?
Wouldn’t you rather be with someone who you’re not afraid will leave you if you gain a few pounds?
Wouldn’t you rather be with someone you can relax and be your true self with?
Even if it were theoretically true that you would have more romantic options if you were thinner (which is debatable and relative to personal circumstance), as Virgie Tovar once said to me, more options doesn’t equal better options.
For me personally, the better option is always the person I don’t have to change my body for (or compromise my sanity around food for), regardless of any other qualities that person may possess or how perfect they may seem in every other way.
In other words, I’m asking you to shift your understanding of the situation…
from your body being the problem,
to their weight requirements being the problem.
(assuming these weight requirements actually exist, and aren’t simple assumptions based on the pressures you put on yourself…another blog post for another time)
I personally have the rule in love that if I think a prospective partner wouldn’t be cool with me gaining 20lbs, it’s probably not gonna work out. (Also Virgie’s idea.) Relationships are hard enough without the added pressure of having to maintain a certain physique to keep my partner happy.
And just to be totally clear, I don’t blame someone who has weight requirements outside of my boundaries — after all, attraction is complicated and not always fully in our control — but for the sake of my own comfort and sanity, I hold myself to the standard of being with someone who accepts my body at it’s current size give or take some. My sanity around food and body is too important to compromise.
Now, I would be remiss in this conversation not to address the elephant in the room — “what if I’m already in a committed relationship with someone who actively asks me to lose weight or body shames me on a regular basis?”
And this, I have to say, is a really, really hard and shitty situation to be in. There’s no easy way of dealing with it. Solutions generally involve having difficult conversations with your partner, and/or making tough choices about what you are and are not willing to do or put up with in your relationship. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer in this scenario — and it might be something you want to work out with a trusted coach or therapist.
On that note, I hope this post was helpful and that I’ve inspired you to think differently about the kind of love you really want in your life:
love that requires you to be someone you’re not and/or compromise your sanity around food?
love that accepts you for exactly who you are today…love that you can securely be yourself in?
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