My interview with Retro Mimi of The Retro Weight Watchers Experiment and her amazing collection of vintage Weight Watchers magazines and publications!
Leigh Peele, a published author and expert on weight loss, has an intriguing article at the Examiner on the courtship of obesity:
The process of mate selection for human beings is different from culture to culture and has evolved with the ages. Long ago the majority choose a mate purely on the ground of livelihood. If your mate could feed you or have children that was good enough. That isn’t to say there wasn’t always a rebel or two that caused a uproar in the normal flow of things. However, the majority of the time people chose mostly out of safety, and at best for love.
Flash forward to a time of internet dating, mail order brides, maxim magazine, and Flavor of Love. I think you will find that things are a little different. Self independence and prosperity is possible for both sexes. The ability to have children isn’t dependent on a penis and a vagina. Lastly, food is everywhere in advanced societies so the need to find a mate based solely on those past needs are getting cut more and more everyday. If those aren’t leading the ranks of why we pick a mate, what is?
I’ve written, elsewhere, on the subject of the biology of appearance in attraction, and while Peele clearly has a belief system (if not an agenda), she raises some good points:
How you look, the health you convey, and the body you have is now a extreme contributing factor. Studies and survey’s around the world are showing time and time again that the weight and appearance of a person plays a very large role in if they are found to be dating material or not. The question is, why?
If you say because “fat people are ugly” you would be wrong. Studies show that it isn’t the physical attraction to the person that is the issue, it is the underlying factors instead. For example, one study shows that on average medical costs are 36% higher for obese adults than their non-obese partners. Other studies also show that those who are largely overweight make a smaller percentage of pay vs those who have a healthier BMI. Obesity is also highly prevalent in low educated households, and the children of obese parents have a higher likely hood to drop out of high school.
When we combine all that above this means that through one scan of the eyes the average person when on approach for dating material can see someone who is obese as unhealthy, uneducated, and not financially secure. Obviously this is not true in all cases, but now if you find yourself in this position, not only do you have to worry about your own insecurities of being physically under par to yourself, you have to worry about your whole level of worth being judged from education to finance. Because of this overwhelming pressure, studies show that the mate you choose is going to be constantly less than your instinctual set standards because you feel that this is the best you can do. The cycle then starts of the problems in the relationship.
Peele then goes on to describe what she believes occurs in relationships where one person is ‘thin’ and the other ‘obese’:
Constantly those who are overweight will put “being fat” on the high list of problems in a relationship before they will put “living in self doubt.” Mixed couples fight more about cheating, have more short term separations, and will settle more in abusive relationships on average than couples who share in the same activities and physical physique. It is a lot more likely that one of you is nice and the other is a jerk.
…It isn’t about BMI, that is just a side effect. That is merely the scapegoat for the problem. The problem is self worth and self esteem. Usually those who were married pre-obesity have less problems than those who go into the courtship already overweight. With marriage there is a level of knowing what can be there again if desire or a deep understanding of the person in when they felt their best. Since the person saw the “real” you at a point, even if you are insecure now, there is still enough of you there in them that you are able to maintain a high level of happiness and trust.
I’ll admit, I’ve never quite looked at weight issues from this perspective. I’ve been ‘fat’ and I’ve been ‘thin,’ and while I’ve certainly noticed the times when my fat self was unattractive — not for the physical reasons but the insecurities & bad attitudes — I’ve never quite put things together as neatly as Peele has.
Not that being thinner delivers a magical life, but there is something I can attest to as far as attitude & acceptance. Speaking in generalities, if & when I happily accept ‘me’, I have better partners and better relationships; but when I am miserable, I make dumber decisions & accept far less than I really deserve. Not to mention, I’m just a bitch (or killjoy) to be around.
There’s also been a difference between my relationships (with myself and with others), depending upon how I ‘took the weight off’.
The times I forced myself to diet — like an aggressive prison warden — I may have lost weight, but I felt the punitive actions, the self-loathing, and not only was miserable in the process and with others, but the weight came back quickly. However, once I rid myself of my emotional baggage, I naturally seemed to slim-down — as if that baggage was literally the saddlebags on my hips and thighs.
So while I’m not sure I agree that relationships between the skinny dating the fat are doomed to inequity, I do see (and often talk about) the great difficulties in relationships between those who are happily accepting of themselves and those who are riddled with insecurities and self-loathing. If your weight is an indication of the latter, the issues are certainly worth exploring for yourself.