I always thought the body positivity movement was great. I love the idea of people feeling comfortable in their bodies instead of hating them.
Except there are more consequences than I expected.
Everybody likes to think love goes beyond looks. You want to be loved for who you are, not who you appear to be. I used to think that as well. But I learned it’s childish to say your body doesn’t change your relationship.
My perspective changed when I wrote an article about the prejudice curvy women face when they date six-packed men. The article performed well, but the comments are heartbreaking.
Multiple people shared their experiences as obese people in relationships.
They share their struggles, the prejudices they face, and how loving your body isn’t enough. Although body positivity makes them feel better, in practice, it doesn’t help them find love.
What does science say about it?
I recently came across a scientific study that has an interesting finding.
“High-fat individuals are perceived as more inclined towards long-term relationships.”
At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? High-fat people want committed relationships. Doesn’t everybody? It’s just ordinary research. Except there’s one small catch.
They’re perceived as interested in long-term relationships.
The research doesn’t actually study what people want. They study how others perceive you. Which brings me to the question: Why would you think fat people want committed relationships (instead of one-night stands)?
It’s because they’re not considered attractive.
Let’s say skinny people are attractive. When they’re single, they have more options to have one-night stands (looks are the most important thing for that goal). Their personality doesn’t matter that much. As long as they’re good-looking, they can find a partner.
On the contrary, high-fat people use other qualities in relationships.
They are friendly, intelligent, and nice to be around. These qualities are great. But do you associate them with one-night stands or committed relationships?
The research doesn’t go that far, but I say it confirms that society thinks high-fat people aren’t attractive. And although they’re perceived as more inclined to have long relationships, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to find a partner.
What do your actions say?
Everybody likes the idea of body positivity. It’s easy to talk about how everybody should be equal and love their bodies. It’s also easy to write a post on social media to make you feel nice.
But what happens when you need to put it into practice?
It’s one thing to say someone else is beautiful regardless of their weight. It’s another thing to feel attracted enough to start a committed relationship with this person.
Your choices are the ultimate expression of your beliefs.
You may think you support body positivity, but you don’t. When you say you appreciate all bodies but only date skinny people, your actions don’t match your words.
You’re lying (either to others or to yourself).
So if you want to know where you truly stand with the body positivity movement, watch your actions instead of your thoughts. If you don’t date curvy people because “you’re not attracted to them,” maybe you don’t truly support the movement.
What does society say?
If you read this and realized your actions don’t match your body positivity thoughts, don’t worry. You’re not alone. It turns out society says they accept all bodies but acts differently.
This comment from Gareth exemplifies it:
“Unfortunately, you can’t say a guy is unattractive their whole life then complain that they lack confidence and be blameless in this.”
Society loves to tell people how looks don’t matter and how your sweet personality can still make you attractive. Sounds great in theory, but in practice, that’s bullsh*t.
You can’t expect people to be confident when you say they’re ugly.
Society may not say it directly to your face, but it makes you feel it. You see how nobody approaches you in a bar, how the protagonists in movies never look like you, and how beautiful people get more likes on social media.
Your looks matter.
It’s a vicious circle. Your looks change the way people treat you. How others treat you makes you more confident. When you’re more confident, you’re more good-looking.
Your confidence is great. But it’s still not enough to bring you a relationship.
What does it mean for relationships?
You spend years feeling like your body is wrong. You should wear more makeup and remove body hair. And, of course, you should stay skinny. The body positivity movement matters because, after all these years, it’s relieving to hear your body is enough as it is.
Except that still doesn’t help you find a relationship.
You may argue that relationships take more than looks. And you’re right. The person you marry will impact your life in ways you can’t grasp: Your children, your career, and even your financial status. What are looks when compared to that?
It turns out looks still matter (and a lot). This comment from Lavender shows her experience as an obese woman:
Of course, I want to be loved for me. I know that looks aside; I’m a catch. I cook well, I’m creative and empathetic, I’ve adopted two rescue dogs, I speak a few languages, I’ve got a graduate degree and I’ve lived abroad for nine years. That’s a lot of cultural capital. But do you know what I realized this summer?
People couldn’t give a fuck about all that if I’m still fat.
Imagine you check all the boxes: Great career, kind, intelligent, and friendly. Even then, your looks can outshine everything else.
Whether you like it or not, looks can make or break a relationship.
The body positivity movement is great because it gives people the confidence to love their bodies. Even after years of watching ads telling you your body is wrong and seeing movies with skinny protagonists, you can still love yourself.
But that’s not enough for a committed relationship.
High-fat people are still considered unattractive (or, at least, less attractive than skinny people). It’s a harsh reality, but the first step towards change is to see it as it is.
Don’t get me wrong: The body positivity movement matters. Although it doesn’t help you find a relationship, it gives you the confidence to love yourself. And every great relationship starts with yourself.
Take this confidence and use it to your advantage.
I don’t have the power to change society and its prejudices. But I want to leave you with a powerful message: How you treat yourself sets the tone for how others will treat you. So treat yourself right, and don’t let a relationship determine your value.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
You may also like these posts on The Good Men Project:
|White Fragility: Talking to White People About Racism||Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box||The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer||What We Talk About When We Talk About Men|
Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com