I always got the impression one of my partners just wasn’t that into me. Let me re-phrase, just not that into my looks. My suspicion was confirmed 4 years in when he told me that he didn’t find me as attractive because I had put on a little weight. Walking in the park at winter when he shamefully told me his secret, I assured him I would “become better”, I would lose weight.
The next week I went on what would be my last diet. I vowed I would lose weight the “healthy way” and my partner would finally see me, see how wonderful I was and think I was the most beautiful woman in the world.
Of course, as all diets do, it failed.
I put on more weight. I became resentful. Why couldn’t he just love me the way I was? Why did he have to tell me something that was so devastating to me. I was filled with shame, anger and confusion.
Why I am now happy that he gave me this information is that it led me on a path of self-discovery around beauty.
6 months after we split I asked him “Would you have liked me better if I was thinner?”.
This time, his words didn’t hurt. It didn’t hurt because since I gave up on that last diet, I have learnt all about fat positivity and feminism. I have learnt how our patriarchal society and beauty ideals hurt all of us.
“Why would a thin girlfriend be important to you?” I continued.
He explained that having a thin partner improves his status, that having a small girlfriend makes him feel more masculine.
Like a lot of people, he has never explored our society’s beauty ideals.
We are constantly told that the most desirable are white, young and thin. This belief will hurt him as he searches for a new partner, it will hurt him when he finds a new partner and she ages, it will hurt him if she ever puts on weight. It will hurt her too, as it hurt me, knowing that the man I adored would prefer a different version of me.
Now, I know it’s not about me. It’s the by-product of living in a society that objectifies women. Men seeing their partner as a status symbols and women believing their worth is determined by the number on the scale, amongst other things.
If I could travel back to that time in the icy cold park I would’ve had such a different reaction. I wouldn’t have seen my body as the problem, but the fact that my partner believed my worth was decreased as my weight increased.
I would encourage my partner to explore his idea of what is desirable, and if he couldn’t see the beauty of my “waves and honey” then I would remove myself from the relationship.
So, if you’re in the same situation as I was, know it’s not your fault. It’s this fucked up beauty ideal. You deserve to be with someone who accepts you for who you are, and if they don’t, leave them.
By the way, my now ex is a wonderful, kind person. He didn’t tell me about his feelings to be cruel, but to try and strengthen our relationship. It just didn’t work out the way he planned.