The majority of women I have been in relationships with have had insecurity around their weight. It hasn’t mattered whether they were actually larger or decidedly thin, the perception of being “fat” – and thus unattractive – was often palpable. As a man who pays attention to limiting cultural constructs around relationships, and who doesn’t go with the oppressive flow, I often have found myself in a strange place when it comes to weight.
In response to “I’m fat” comments, I have offered compliments. Or flat out rejections of the statement. Or sometimes have simply said “I love you as you are.”
No doubt it’s good to have a partner who isn’t harping on you about weight, but at the end of the day, you have to believe it internally.
At the same time, there are powerful social biases which make this internal self acceptance challenging. It’s easy to find pseudo-scientific articles in magazines and newspapers defending the status quo of attractiveness. Which tends to revolve around white bodies in general, and with women in particular, tends to revolve around being young and thin. In other words, there are cultural reasons why black women in general tend to struggle to get dates, for example, and why women with larger, curvier bodies tend to get rejected or tossed into the friend-zone. And it’s not just a heterosexual thing. These same pattern can be found, at least to some degree, amongst gay, lesbian, trans and queer relationships as well.
On the other two blogs I maintain, I have been writing a lot about the general disconnect so many of us have with the Earth. This disconnect manifests not only in how we humans treat the planet, but also in how we see and experience our bodies. Body hatred is intimately tied to both the oppression of women and rejection of Earth as the source of life, abundance, and creation.
And so, a larger woman might be able to find a partner who loves her for who she is, but if she hasn’t unpacked the internalized oppression around body image, she might do everything in her power – usually unconsciously – to undermine the relationship. On the flip side, if the partner has chosen her mostly for her personality, he or she might end up undermining the relationship with body shaming, or associated negative behaviors. Sometimes, it takes years for this kind of stuff to emerge. Couples can be seemingly happy together, only to wake up one day to an outburst of anger and confusion that slowly, or rapidly tears them apart.
While I fully believe that our desires shift and change over the years, and that sometimes we naturally drift away from partners, it’s also true in other cases that busted up relationships become that way primarily due to unexamined assumptions and views. Because we live in our bodies, and literally store unprocessed experience in our bodies – there’s no way around it. In order to have conscious, thriving relationships, you have to learn to love your body, and feel the flow of life coming through you. Learning to love includes everything from choosing to lose weight if necessary, to standing tall and proud as you are, today, regardless of what others might think. It also means learning to liberate your desires from the narrow confines of the “proper” or “expected,” while also balancing that with a deep commitment to non-harming.
“Fat Bottomed Girls Again” @ Flickr