I Lost a Lot of Weight But Resent All the Men Who Now Find Me Attractive

Dear Evan,

I lost 60 pounds (hooray!) and physically I am a completely different person. Before the dramatic weight loss, I didn’t really go out to try to find dates. I’m 23 and have never even “talked” to a male let alone go out with one. Being overweight made me very self-conscious physically and since no males ever showed interest in me, I never gave the effort to pursue.

Now, I’ve been fairly OK with never dating: I have career/education goals and I’ve always been independent and very able to take care of myself. Having someone romantically in my life just seemed like another thing to put on my plate. But seeing as 77% of my friends (I did the math!) are married and the other 23% are in serious relationships, I thought maybe I should think about doing the whole “dating” thing. In the past, I would go out to social events with my friends but never had any males approach me. Of course I assumed it was because of my physical appearance, but I always thought “oh well, their loss.” Now I go out with friends and I get bombarded by men, especially since I’m the only one in the group unattached.

I feel cocky to say this, but I know I have a great personality. I have goals, I’m ambitious, educated, really sweet and caring, very funny (I think everyone I know can attest to that,) patient, and just all around pretty easy going. I want to start dating, but I can’t get past the thought, “You know, this guy wouldn’t even give me the time of day if I were still fat.” What can I do to get rid of this or work past it? I know you say that physical attraction really does matter to men, but I have a pretty awesome personality and I want that to be, if not of most, of high importance. Please give me some insight! I’m pretty sure asking every guy that approaches me, “would you talk to me if I were fat?” is not the best way to go about things.

Thanks!
Sandra

Dear Sandra,

There’s an intelligent, successful, charming bachelor in his 40’s. Let’s call him George Clooney.

So George, sick of women throwing themselves at him because his rich and famous, decides to go undercover. He grows out his beard, he gains weight, he starts wearing ripped sweatpants wherever he goes. He’s the exact same guy underneath, but it’s really important that a woman want him for HIM – not just for the dashing image he projects and the life he can provide.

We can’t separate looks from the package. It’s PART of the package, whether we like it or not.

Now, George looks like a homeless man and goes to bars to talk to women. He still has great knowledge of Darfur, Edward R. Murrow, and the politics behind oil. He can still turn a phrase and crack a joke. He still has an amazing smile. He just can’t talk about being an Academy Award winner, lest anyone value him for something superficial. It would probably not surprise you that George would struggle in his quest for love. He may blame women for not valuing him as a homeless man as much they did as an actor – but he’d be the one losing out.

And that’s where you’re boxing yourself in, Sandra. See, we can’t separate looks from the package. It’s PART of the package, whether we like it or not. A store might have amazing and classy merchandise, but if there’s a misspelled sign outside, flyers on the window, and graffiti on the door, you might not go in to find out. Is that YOUR fault for judging the book by its cover? No, it’s the store’s fault for not realizing that looks matter.

Simply put, when a man finds you attractive, he will take the time to learn about your amazing personality. If he doesn’t find you attractive, he won’t. Which way would you rather have it?

The people who do best… are not the ones who try to rewrite the rules of society, but rather, figure out how to navigate them successfully.

On a personal note, I have dated three women who lost over 50 lbs and had the same exact issues that you did. One girlfriend used to complain to me that the men in the gym were looking at her – and remark that they never looked at her before. As if the men were to blame for buying into conventional societal standards of beauty.

Would the world be a better place if being 60lbs overweight didn’t matter? Sure. Would the world be a better place if 5’4″ men fared as well as 6′ tall men? Absolutely. Wouldn’t it be great if a male second grade teacher had as much status and appeal as the C.E.O. of a Fortune 500 company? Yep.

But that’s not the world we live in. And the people who do best in the world we live in, Sandra, are not the ones who try to rewrite the rules of society, but rather, figure out how to navigate them successfully.

It sounds like you have a great sense of self-esteem to back up your efforts to lose weight. If I were you, I’d literally DROP the idea that the “right” guy doesn’t care about looks and embrace the incredible opportunity you created for yourself. You deserve it.

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Comments:

  1. 91
    Cilla

    Let me add that someone who is naturally willowy and slender, like Uma Thurman or Cate Blanchett, will look just fine on the thin side. Someone whose genetic weight set point is higher–Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, or Catherine Zeta Jones, for example–will get that ropey look if she loses too much weight. I’m not saying being thin is bad–just not natural for some people. Read an interview with Kate Winslet lately? All she seems to talk about is her struggle to lose weight to meet the pressure of Hollywood. Where is the lovely and engaging actress who used to have something more substantial to talk about when she was her natural weight?

  2. 92
    girl-with-glasses

    Just to play devil’s advocate here. I find good looking, tall, attractive men with money very attractive. And why not? They have to date someone too.

    And just because a man has money, doesn’t automatically qualify him for knuckle-dragging neanderthal status, i.e. being a hedge-fund manager, investment banker etc doesn’t mean one is scum out to bring back patriarchy through the sexual subjugation of women via their bodies.

    to each their own I guess.

  3. 93
    starthrower68

    Girl-with-glasses, we all filter our view of life from our experiences. I agree with you, a man with money doesn’t automatically make him a jerk, any more than a guy without makes him an angel. But I think most experts on people will agree that many men with power and money tend to put work ahead of all else do not have an easy time with relationship building. Nobody’s arguing that there are exceptions out there. It doesn’t seem to be the general rule, however.

  4. 94
    hunter

    on post #88, I have dated elementary school teachers, they seem to be very nice people and in abundance. I have yet to date a high school teacher, I am told, their energy is completely different.

  5. 95
    Ann

    Cilla–congrats!!! And thanks, StarThrower!!

    Girl-with-Glasses: These guys weren’t tall and attractive. And certainly not all financial guys are like this. But I know a ton of them and they are usually rather alpha male. And alpha male pretty much implies compliant female. If anyone goes for that, more power to ya. Everybody can have what they want, in my view. If you have weight that goes up and down, or if you have insecurities about how you look, you are not going to have a good time with one of these guys, in my POV. They are very into image and the woman is his appendage. It’s hard for me to imagine having a life with one of these guys that isn’t all about him and his career, but I guess some women just wanna go along for the ride.

    Of course, a lot of times you see the Wall St. power couple, where the woman needs to have the big degree or the big job. That’s kinda cool. She still has to look the alpha-male-wife part, though.

    But just in general I am warning Sandra about predatory male behavior, and when you’ve been a performer you meet a lot of guys like this. You develop a sixth sense about who is interested in you for some not-so-good reason and who is a genuine person. Sandra may not have had the opportunity to develop those skills–the weight loss may be like becoming a star overnight, where all of a sudden everyone who used to look right through you is inviting you to their parties. I don’t think a little caution and mistrust are out of place for her. She’s very young.

    I did wonder about the strong negative reaction from guys on this board when you talk about this stuff. I really puzzled over it. And then it occurred to me that EMK, Steve, other guys on this board –guys who probably aren’t predatory in their interests toward women– don’t get what it’s like. It was the mention of that book Self-Made Man that got me thinking about this. A lot of the usual dating advice for men seems to me predatory and usurious of women. Maybe most guys only take it to a certain point and don’t step across that line. But plenty of guys do step across the line, and call it fun, just being “a guy,” etc. And how do you know if a guy who is approaching that line is going to turn out to be a decent guy or a predator? You don’t. Until he steps over the line. The decent guys probably aren’t aware that in their dating bravado they are starting to sound kind of predatory.

    Like the aforementioned investment banker, who met some of my friends for the first time and was laughing casually about a drug they had in college that “guys” used to give to women when they wanted to have sex with them. “We call that rape,” I said. I ended it with him that night. No need to wait around to see whether he was decent or scum.

  6. 96
    Steve

    @Sandra; I’m sorry that there are so many comments that have nothing to do with your original issues or that seem to not to have read what you wrote carefully. Welcome to the internet!

  7. 97
    Steve

    I have to say that I am amazed how often women are myopic to their own sexism and misandry. That is just how the world is and part of me that has not grown up still throws the “shoulds” around. I have about 60 years left, maybe I will get over it. Some of the opinions I have read in this thread have been truly ignorant. I’m chalking it up to age. Some of the older women seem to have better heads on their shoulders.

  8. 98
    Steve

    About “(just) getting over it”.

    Not everyone’s mind works just like yours. Some people are better with some issues than you are and some are worse with some issues than you are. If you remember that you will have a powerful insight to benefit from.

    About venting and talking it out.

    Those things are part of achieving and maintaining mental health, but like everything else these things can be overdone. It only makes you feel better. Taken too far it can make your problem worse by dwelling on it or simply dithering about your problem instead of fixing it. Getting over an emotional issue is about changing the way you think and changing the way you behave.

    I am not an expert of any kind.

  9. 99
    Steve

    @ girl-with-glasses , post #92

    ROFL!!!

  10. 100
    Ann

    Steve:

    I did have to laugh to myself about the “axe to grind” comment. I left a therapy group once because a guy told me that. I had a lot of trouble with this guy because in my first day in the group he did an “exercise” where he “vented” by calling his wife a c*nt and a b*tch and said that he wanted to twist her t*ts off as he simulated the same on a pillow. His misogyny was never addressed in the group; the only other women in the group were older and very compliant. As you can imagine, this was not a group for me! :)

    Call it man-hating, if you want. I was thrilled to be out of there. And my suspicians were confirmed that is was not a woman-friendly group: After I left I found out through the therapist’s social networking sites this therapist, who is elderly and recently married, had taken as his bride a decades-younger wife who was Chinese and did not speak English. He communicated with her through a sign language he made up himself, he wrote. And he, an amateur filmmaker, also had scripts and film clips on his site in which the protagonist killed his girlfriend because she was angry at him and wouldn’t stop challenging him, where he simulated masturbation, where an old guy is surrounded by a bunch of erotic young “Indian” women who want to pleasure him, and where a young male therapist has an affair with a patient.

    Now, if my having a problem with a therapist like this and an investment banker who laughs about rape are sexism and misandry in your view, so be it. I will wear that badge with honor.

  11. 101
    Ann

    Here’s a thought-provoker: If men are hard-wired to “protect” women, as the claim has been made, what, in this world view, are the men protecting the women from?

  12. 102
    Mary

    To #92, I guess it’s like my grandma used to quote, it’s as easy to love a rich man as a poor man.

  13. 103
    Lance

    Totally agree with EMK in #80.

    Sandra’s letter reminds me of an litmus test I have that I think is interesting. Whenever I meet a new chick with good looks, I always ask myself at some point in the interaction, if this chick were fat, would I be hanging out with her? If the answer is yes, and she’s good looking, then she’s probably a winner. That happens fairly infrequently, to be honest. The cool thing is if she rejects me or flakes, it pretty easy to swallow.

    Lance´s last blog post…Now I’m Cookin

  14. 104
    Lance

    @Ann #101: poverty, hardship, mediocrity, boredom, tediousness. A long time ago it used to health related, ie wealthier families can afford better healthcare, live in safer places, etc, and a very long time ago it used to be physical danger. Much of that is irrelevant now because women have careers and take care of themselves, which, IMO, makes gold digging pretty ridiculous, but no less true. Men are still basically cavemen and go for pretty faces and nice boobs; I don’t think that’s changing any time soon!

  15. 105
    Ruby

    Ann:

    Personally, I’m really enjoying your posts! Sometimes we forget that the personal is still the political, and that we can be shaped by our cultural biases more than we’d like to admit. And lots of cultural “norms” are worth challenging!

    Obviously, those wealthy, status-seeking MBA’s weren’t intelligent or thoughtful enough for you, even with their Ivy League degrees. The generous-hearted school teacher probably gets you much better!

    Going all the way back to Cilla, #3, your comments to Sandra also frame her situation well.

  16. 106
    Ruby

    Oh yes, Ann’s question in #101, and Lance #104, I think we can add to that answerr…patriarchy.

  17. 107
    starthrower68

    @ Lance #104, as long as you’re ok with women’s preferences not changing anytime soon, then that’s fair. :oD

    I know for me, I am looking forward to getting the weight off and being found more attractive. I don’t believe I’m ugly or repulsive now but I’m certainly not going to complain about a full social calendar. I do think though, that having some experience behind me, it will be much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff. A few years ago, I would have been too naieve. And it all boils down to this; if a guy treats a woman poorly, and she’s treated him kind, not hounded him, been a drama queen, etc., she can hold her head high whether he rejects her or not. She’s still a classy lady. I think there’s something comforting about that. Ann, I don’t know you but I think you are a classy lady who can hold your head high.

  18. 108
    Lance

    @Ruby: Women need men to protect them from father-dominated families?

    Lance´s last blog post…Now I’m Cookin

  19. 109
    Steve

    @Ruby, post #106

    No personal offense meant to you whatsoever ( or anyone else )

    If for some reason you decide that you want to repel single men and you don’t want to gain a lot of weight just drop the word “patriarchy” several times into the conversation.

    Honestly, there is sarcasm in this comment, but the comment still has truth value. The advice will work in either direction.

  20. 110
    Steve

    @Ann, post #100

    I wasn’t in your group so I don’t have the right to make a judgment call. Based on your post I would say that the man with the pillow was venting about one woman, not all women ( so the label misogyny may not apply ) and it was done in the context of venting…..not in doing.

    My personal opinion is that kind of venting is not appropriate in a mixed group. If I was you I would have left that group too, both for that reason and the other things you found out about the group.

    I think you and women with similar attitudes are being hypocrites and are blind to it.

    If I am interpreting you correctly you wrote that you, as a woman, did not feel comfortable hearing a person express his rage against “women” ( in this case one woman ).

    Fair enough, but how is that any different than you, as well as other women, coming onto a mixed forum and expressing all sorts of negative sentiments about men?

    I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit of happiness.

    1. 110.1
      Olga

      Fundamentally different. I, as yet another woman, who’s here to express all sorts of negative sentiments about men, would not go as far in expressing them as to twisting pillow corners, grinding my teeth, pouring out my frustration and downright cursing. I really would like to see our society start solving these issues constructively. So no rage and no aggressive behaviour towards men (or women) and no, my intolerance towards such behaviour does not classify me as hypocrite or blind thank you very much. You also mentioned you mean no offense and I know you mean none, but then please don’t label women (or any other people) off the bat like that, that can actually be offensive. I also entirely disagree with you that many of the commentaries here have nothing to do with OP’s message. Reading through all of these people’s experiences and resulting opinions and comparing your personal situation with theirs is treasure. Everything counts, I guess.

  21. 111
    Janet

    Actually, most children today are not raised in “father-dominated” households. Only 25% are, acc. to the U.S. Census. (Though who wants to live in a “dominated” household, anyway, is my view. I think the Census calls it a two-parent household and breaks it out according to head of household being the one who works outside the home–but not quite sure of the language used there. I’m close….)

    Anyway, there’s your theory about that out the window. And being protected from boredom, tediousness, etc? What?? This is what women turn to men to be “protected” from? Very strange idea, that one.

    And I think it’s quite curious that it’s men who keep asserting what women’s “hard-wiring” is, when, presumably, men do not occupy female bodies and cannot possibly know what we experience as our “hard-wiring.” And I will assert again: Female sexuality is not coin-operated. Read the literature on it, guys, before you go around asserting these crazy things. I do agree that this idea is very popular in the media and the dating press especially, but it is not grounded in fact. You would do the world a great service to stop perpetuating these outmoded ideas.

    Ann: The former therapist sounds very old school and not up to speed on what is going on in psychotherapy today. Glad you left. Sounds dreadful. And yes, I would say that the therapist has big issues with and rage toward women himself and so would not be a good steward of a mixed group. Not a “protector,” as it were, of the women in the group–especially a woman he perceives as stepping out of line (he draws the lines, of course). Though no doubt he saw himself as a great protector of women, esp. the down and out types, like his mail-order wife. That’s the thing about the “protectors”–it’s really only about protecting what is theirs and about destroying what is others’. But people who espouse this “protector” theory usually leave off the second half of the equation. Which is what I think you meant by your question, Ann.

    I know that some men react very strongly to this, and I’m sorry, Steve, if you feel attacked. If you read the book I recommended earlier it might clear some things up for you. I know very few women who are into bashing “patriarchy,” as such, but they are not going to accept men telling them what their experience of their environments, their bodies and sexuality, and their roles in the world are our should be, either.

  22. 112
    starthrower68

    Steve! I don’t think Ann was raging against or hates all men; I think she’s had some experiences that can still make her angry when she thinks about them. But if she truly hated men, she wouldn’t be with her teacher BF whom she’s spoken about in very kind terms. I think Ann is just a no-nonsense, straight-shootin’ kinda gal. And be fair, now: you do try to understand the other side but we’ve all made comments like “men are this or women are that”.

  23. 113
    Janet

    And yes, Steve, there are women you need to run from, just as there are men you need to run from (Ann gave some good examples).

    I would agree with you that if you hear the “p” word you need to run.

  24. 114
    Ruby

    Women still make less money than men, after divorce, a woman’s financial position declines, single moms are struggling, there is still violence against women. Sorry to use the “P” word, but we still live in a patriarchal society, whether you want to admit it or not. Is it better for women than it used to be? Absolutely. Do we still have room for improvement? Yes.

    Steve, no offense taken. I’ve never had a problem talking about this with any men I’ve been involved with.

    Sorry, this is getting off topic, but the guys asked.

  25. 115
    Honey

    I wrote my dissertation on how hysteria was used as a social construct in the late 1800s and early 1900s to provide a biological/physiological justification for denying women the right to vote and work outside the home…and I never had any problems dating (and have been in an LTR for over 3 years).

    But perhaps I just dated more enlightened men?

    Honey´s last blog post…Now I’m Cookin

  26. 116
    Janet

    One other thing: the disturbing thing about the guy venting in group was the s*xualization of his rage. Only women are called c*nts and b*tches, only women have t*ts. I would feel very uncomfortable being around a guy with that kind of “wiring” myself. And we can’t know if he’s a misogynist, but it isn’t looking good, in my view.

    The “wiring” of human sexuality is in fact a very malleable thing, software, not hardware. What is considered stimulating changes from era to era, from person to person, and even within one person over time. The s*xual response is one of the most plastic neurological responses in us humans. (Read “The Brain That Changes Itself.” Utterly fascinating!)

    What people perceive as hardwiring is very easily explained by matters of social exigency, as Ruby points out.

    And I’m glad to hear that you’ve found guys who can handle the R word, Ruby! Good work!

  27. 117
    Cilla

    @ Ann #95

    I agree with you on the alpha male type. I dated someone for a while last year who had a business pedigree most men would die for he. He was good looking and interesting, with fabulous taste. When we met, he told me he was looking for someone who could hold up a conversation with him, who had diverse interests, who was even a little unconventional or bohemian in her lifestyle. Of course, he also wanted someone who was attractive in his eyes, but he made a point of saying his taste wasn’t the beauty pageant type. As we continued to date, these were things he complimented me on, and told me he appreciated finding someone who had all those desirable characteristics. He frequently told me how attractive he found me.

    When we broke up, he told me he wanted someone more compliant, more demure. I also got the impression that he wanted someone who was more universally viewed as eye candy, a supermodel type he could parade around the nightclubs he frequented. Hmmmm… no contradictions there LOL.

    @ Steve

    Yeah, we do get a little off topic here, but sometimes it provides the most interesting discussion. It would probably be easier to follow these conversations if readers could reply to specific comments and create a sub-thread, rather than simply posting a reply that gets posted with all the others in chronological order. (Hint, hint, Evan’s blog administrator ;-) )

  28. 118
    Steve

    @Honey, post #115

    or the BF got to know you before he could have gotten a mistaken impression from what usually serves as a good warning sign.

  29. 119
    The Seductress Within

    “I know you say that physical attraction really does matter to men, but I have a pretty awesome personality and I want that to be, if not of most, of high importance. Please give me some insight! I’m pretty sure asking every guy that approaches me, would you talk to me if I were fat? is not the best way to go about things.”

    Although you have lost the weight, it’s apparent that you still maintain body issues. Perhaps you still see yourself inside as a heavy person, or ‘rejected’ person or maybe you fear that if you got into a relationship now with your current weight, you may loose your new man if you gain 10 pounds.

    If you don’t want to be judged by men, stop judging them! If a man sees a woman he finds attractive for any number of reasons (body, hair, smile, eyes, laugh) and wants to talk to her, he is not a bad guy for that!

    The problem is not how MEN view you– the problem is how you still view yourself-and are blaming men for it.

    If you want to get past this, my advice is to learn how to love yourself first (your body and not just your personality) and remove the chip from your shoulder before each date. Take your time with dating and remember to have fun.

    Seductress

  30. 120
    Steve

    @Janet, post #16

    I read in the news that Thailand is one of the number one spots in the world where people go for sexual reassignment surgery. Thailand’s surgeons got their skills from the frequency in which enraged Thai wives take out their anger on cheating husbands by cutting their penises off.

    Closer to home, the schmuck in Ann’s group only twisted a pillow and I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard women express their rage about particular men by angrily joking about events happening to their genitals.

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