(Image via Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed)
A man wrote a letter to Dear Prudence saying that he had “zero feelings” for his wife of 25 years, and mother of his three kids, as she had gain 50 pounds in the last 10 years which he referred to as a “major turnoff.” You can see his full question and Prudie’s answer (which I thought wasn’t too bad) here.
I was recently asked a similar question at a live event. The woman said that she had gained weight and her husband said he no longer found her attractive, and that she felt like it was her fault because she was thin when he married her. She asked me what I thought she should do.
I explained that I couldn’t tell her what to do, I could say what I think I would do. I would never marry someone who told me that they only wanted me if I was thin (or fat, or any thing other bit of physicality that might change over time.) But what happens if you’ve built a life with someone and then find out that they somehow believed that you wouldn’t change over time?
To Dear Prudie’s credit she did not suggest weight loss as a solution, but I’ve definitely seen this suggested before – as if we owe our spouses thinness. Many people say some form of “love and cherish each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” but they get tripped up on simple physical changes.
How about some therapy for the spouse whose narrow view of beauty – and apparent delusion that their partner would always look the same as when they married them – is negatively affecting the marriage? What else is a divorce-able “offense”? Grey hair? Wrinkles? Disfigurement from an accident? Hair loss? Twenty-five years, three kids and a life built with someone, and this dude is still stuck on thin=beautiful, shocked that after 25 years and three kids, his wife looks different?
Some people may choose to stay, to try to change their picture until it fits their partner’s frame, and they are allowed to do that. Some people are not in a position to leave such a relationship for any number of reasons. Anyone who deals with this situation gets to make their choice for their reasons (and for some there really isn’t much of a choice), and that’s not for any of us to judge.
As for what I would do? Even if I had complete control over my body size, if someone I was in a relationship with told me that they were no long attracted to me because my weight or appearance had changed, I would likely offer to support them if they wanting counseling/therapy to deal with that issue and, if they wouldn’t or couldn’t work it out, I would leave as soon as possible and never look back.
I'm grateful for Ragen's quick and thoughtful responses to current pop culture issues and "Til Weight Do Us Part" (republished here with permission) is no exception. As someone who has been in a relationship where thinness was owed and also in a relationship (currently) where body change is expected and embraced (weight loss/gain, aging, etc) I can share that-the shame, stress, and guilt that saturated the first relationship is not missed. Not even a little. Navigating this concept is nothing short of REALLY COMPLICATED and neither Ragen or I am here to tell you what you should choose for yourself. We're simply here to let you know that you deserve complete love and acceptance just as you are. Right now and in the future; come what may.
For more Ragen, visit her blog Dances With Fat. Cheers!
Like this blog? Then you'll probably love my book Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls. TNOWTFG "is a manifesto and call to arms for people of all sizes and ages." Learn more here.
Want to hear me speak? I'd love to visit your campus or come to your event! You can find more info here or you can just email me at themilitantbaker at gmail.com. Cheers!