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

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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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  1. 201
    Lynx

    Dana Kay: “The reason this is all so obvious to me is that I was slender previously and the difference is astonishing.”

    There is a fascinating episode of This American Life, “Tell Me I’m Fat”, that explores the story of a woman who was overweight growing up, lost considerable weight in her 20s, and was astonished at how differently she was treated.

    I’d heard of white privilege, of course, but I’d never considered “thin privilege” before.

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