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MIM

I did not say that a woman owes it to her husband to keep her body thin. That makes it sound like I think every woman in America should be thin. That's not what I said. And I wasn't even just talking about women. I think SPOUSES owe it to each other to not go through drastic physical changes (barring any medical or psychological condition) without consulting the other person. That's just being considerate to the other person.

Moxie

I wasn't saying you, MIM, said a woman "owes it," but that the other bloggers and most of the commenters on all the blogs spun it in that direction. Maybe I should clarify in my post. But you really think gaining 25 pounds is a drastic physical change? That's only one or two sizes.

Brooklyn Mama

I think it is really sad that a woman's weight has such implications. My weight was not pregnancy-induced, but I have put on a few pounds with the food/drink reward system combined with less exercise that goes along with parenting a small child. Then again, I've never been all that thin to begin with.

I don't mean this in a snide way, Moxie, but I'm sort of amazed that you can be such an advocate for change and education on so many wonderful and worthy subjects and yet you just take for granted that weight and beauty issues in our society cannot be changed.

Well, how I've chosen to deal with it in my personal relationship is to find a man who truly does not care what weight I am. And if he did bug me about it, I wouldn't tolerate it. Period. I may be in the minority with this, but that's how it is.

If I feel unhealthy or out-of-shape, it is solely my own feelings about my own body. My husband is nothing but supportive.

MIM

Thanks for the clarification, Moxie!

Re the 25 lbs, I think it really depends on the body type and size of the person. For me, 25 lbs would be kinda drastic. Once I'd gained 25 lbs during each pregnancy my legs rubbed against each other all the time. It was really uncomfortable. Some body types can carry weight better than others. Me, my bones are SMALL.

Moxie

MIM, I think this is one of the most fascinating discussions to happen in the blog world in a long time, so thanks for starting it.

Brooklyn Mama, I feel like we're making progress, even if it's only incremental, on many other issues. But 50 years ago Marilyn Monroe was a sex symbol but now we're supposed to admire Jessica Simpson. I just don't see society giving up the pin thin ideal. That doesn't mean that's how the people *I* associate with think, but I do think it's an attitude that's ingrained in society too firmly to be dislodged, new Mo'nique movie notwithstanding.

L.

I think I understand what MIM was trying to say, and I think it helped me understand her particlar marriage better -- and her marriage sounds a bit different from mine, but whatever.

There`s no answer to this. There are millions of right answers -- and millions of wrong answers, too.

beaver girl

I've been thinking about this all day too and wondering if it's ok that I'm now heavier than I was on our wedding day if I was also heavier at times while we were dating. Is that false advertising?

Also - c'mon - dating is all about advertising. I love my husband but there are things about him that didn't turn out as advertised (e.g. - being more handy with tools, being better read, not farting, etc.). I'm still happy because I love the man - not the list of characteristics.

Could any of us live up to the person we "sold" ourselves as while dating? Why is weight the focus? This seems like the argument of a woman who doesn't really struggle with it.

Peach

My problem here is the stigma attached to being overweight, period. I was/am overweight and met my boyfriend of five years at this weight. But in the interim, I've wanted to slim down and get a bit thinner, if I do, is that false advertising as well? I was fat when we met, so I should stay fat? Or would that be considered "free gift with purchase"?

Kate

I am still thinking this over, but I wanted to share my husband's reaction (he didn't read all the posts; I gave him a summary). It was, in a word, visceral. He got very worked up. He said it's ridiculous to expect that people won't change, physically or otherwise (he gave the example of switching one's political affiliation over time), over the course of their lives together. If someone can't handle the evolution in the other person, then they leave the relationship, but it shouldn't be called false advertising or entrapment or anything else. It's just people changing, and it would be unfair to not expect it at all.

One man's view....

MIM

I'm not suggesting that a person never changes. That's completely absurd. Kate, did you tell him how I talked about weight gain that comes with age? I just don't think people get what I was saying because their reading my post and thinking about their own issues.

Kate

I did explain that you didn't mean putting on a few pounds here or there, but that your intention was that you looked significantly different than you did at the beginning of the relationship. Am I off-base?

Melis

As I sit here reading (and trying very hard not to cry), I can't help but wonder what it would be like to not have my thighs rub because even when I was underweight, they rubbed. Thank you, Moxie, for mentioning that 20-25 pounds is just a size or two, because I've lost 22 pounds since January and I've only lost one pant size.
When I got pregnant, I was already heavy (thanks to a blood disorder that got treated with very high doses of prednisone) so I was careful. I gained only 11 pounds and my husband gained the rest for me. My son is now 18 months old and, like I said, I've lost 22 pounds and my husband is probably at his highest weight of his life. Do I think less of him for being more of him? NO. I would think less of him if he had ragged on me for gaining the prednisone weight which was totally out of my control. I would think less of him for adding to the stress I already have in my life. I figure when he's ready, he'll make the changes he needs to make. It took me a while to do it and I don't expect him to have an epiphany and instantly become Mr Fitness.

It's unrealistic to think people won't change over the course of time. Between age, life experiences and whatever else might happen, people change. Emotionally, physically, sometimes even spiritually. It's up to us as partners to learn to work through, accept change (or fight it as a couple) and act as a team-especially if there are children involved. Is it good for our kids to see Dad nagging Mom about her weight? Is it good for our kids to see Mom constantly on Dad's case because of his? I certainly don't think so.

Rose

Again. You are my hero and my new BFF.

R

Christine

The part about the initial post (and, hi, MIM if you're still reading) that upset me was actually the conversation she had with her husband about her hair length. That's her marriage, so if that's what works for them it's their business, but I just kept thinking - it's JUST HAIR. And if Paul ever said something like that to me, I would hope that was a conversation that came out prior to marriage, because I could get out of the relationship easier. My hair was really short when we started dating...it wasn't "advertising," just a style I liked at the time.

Paul and I have been together 12 years now. What I find attractive about him is the way his face lights up when Max and I surprise him at work, the way he shoves me into the bedroom with the dogs and orders me to get some sleep, the way he has learned to recognize by my expression that I have a migraine and he goes to fetch me some caffeine. I hate the fact that he shaves his head, but he's not any less attractive to me. It's just his hair.

Ally

My responses to this question are all over the map. My first reaction is to bristle at the notion that my body is community property, so to speak. My second is to acknowledged that I'd really like my husband to lose some weight. For his health, yes, but to be blunt, for my benefit as well.

Terry

I can't get this whole subject out of my head & my heart has been heavy since reading the 1st post I read yesterday. I couldn't figure out why I felt so down -- my own husband has never made any sort of negative comment about my weight or any "false advertising" even after 20 years of marriage, 5 children (including 1 twin pregnancy & one change of life baby)& 50 lb more than my pre-children weight of 98. Then I (think)I figured it out-- despite the fact that we've supposedly come so far in the equal rights department, the very idea that we aren't living up to either this society's or our husband's ideals because we don't look exactly as we did when we first met/got married is appalling to me. That very idea that if we gain "too much weight" we aren't keeping our end of the bargain is so offensive -- to me, "false advertising" would be not keeping the marriage vows as promised, not gaining weight or deciding to cut my hair or whatever. What if a woman entered a marriage at a weight of 300 lb. & then lost all of it throughout the marriage until she was down to 125? Is that false advertising as well? And if it's not, why isn't it?

I also resent the notion that when a woman "gains weight" she is depressed or thinks less of herself. Many women carry extra weight & still dress nicely (even when they stay-at-home) & make sure they take care of themselves. As far as "why" women gain weight once they're married/ have kids? How about because food is good & eating it enjoyable? And how many women are married to men that don't weigh the same as they did on their wedding day? (*hand up high in the air*). Are they being scrutinized or being told they are "falsely advertising?"

This is what I believe I owe my husband: faithfulness, honesty, support, compromise, committment to him, the marriage & our family. (There's other things, but you get the drift). He owes me the same. We do not "owe" it to each other to weigh or look a certain way for each other.

I am not directing these comments at any one particular commenter/blogger so please don't feel I've singled out anyone here to dump on. I'm really just responding to the gist of many of the comments I've read on all of the blogs who've written aout this.

Thank you, Moxie, for allowing me to de-lurk & use your comment section to do so.

Nikki S

Fuck "false advertising." The idea that you have to somehow "maintain yourself"--the self you were when you married--is just bullshit. We wouldn't think twice if a person gained an education (oh, but of course, that would give them more *self-respect*) or if they lost their job because of mass layoffs (that would change their "self-respect").

But what if they lost their self-respect because they were in a disfiguring accident? Oh, then it's stand by your man.

I can't help but be sarcastic about this. The whole discussion has been another example of fat discrimination in this country. And I'm pointing fingers.

Slim

The concept of "self" in "letting yourself go" is a huge problem, I think.
I weigh more than I did when we met and married. I dress less well. But the part of my old self that I think my husband would miss most is the one who read more, did more volunteer work, just generally used her brain for grown-up purposes.
I say "would miss" because I think we both believe she's coming back once she's better rested and has some more free time than caring for little people allows.
The self that values that is still in there. Her to-do list just reflects different priorities these days.
As does my husband's.

PBfish

I think of this as a very personal issue, which I think MIM meant it to be. I agree that inside a couple's relationship it is helpful to attempt to maintain physical attractiveness, if possible. That said, there are many definitions of "attractive". A partner may be interested in more or less flesh on their partner. Typically, our societal norm in middle class white America tends to be toward the Hollywood-thin look. But lots of other cultures within our culture don't subscribe to this beauty standard. So of course this issue is specific to each relationship and preferences among the partners.
Also, as we age, we change. Of course this is true. My husband's hair is thinning. I am no longer naturally skinny, at age 33, I am having to work at losing weight for the first time in my life. I choose to do so, because I want that look to stay in my husband's eye when he sees me. Has he complained about my sudden weight gain? Not at all. A few years ago he gained a bit of weight, and I don't think it is shallow to admit that I missed those gorgeous ab muscles. Did I say anything? Hell, no. I was very lucky, because he suddenly started working out again and lost the extra weight. Now I'm returning that favor by starting to work out again and laying off the french fries.
But good lord, there are many physiological reasons why people gain weight. And a lot of them are not within our control. Body types are different, some women are genetically programmed to gain weight and others are lucky enough to be skinny no matter how many babies they have. Respect for the individual, the aging process and for the feelings of our partner are more important than appearance.

AmyinMotown

"Fuck 'false advertising' " indeed. What a shallow view of life that somehow women have to look a certain way to "keep their man" and somehow be fair to their partners and help her children and spouse be successful. I am infuriated at this notion that a woman is a status symbol to be maintained, not a person in her own right. Do any of us feel this way about our children? How sad if we do.


That said, I am also alternately fightng off rage and sobs reading all this. I have gained a TON of weight since I met my husband although not so much since we've been married, and short of cutting out all carbohydrates it's been very difficult to lose. PCOS makes me gain weight very easily and it's just getting harder the older I get, and quite frankly I am not willing to never have another piece of bread or glass of wine in order to maintain the weight I was at 27. I eat more healthfully than 75 percent of the people I know and have enviable blood numbers, I just am about 50 lbs over where I'd like to be weightwise. And I would have to drastically restrict what I eat and drink to the point of seriously cutting into my ennjoyment of life to lose even a teensy amount.

I HATE that people look at me and think "Damn, she's let herself go, her poor husband" and associate "thin person" with "good person." There are people in my life who genuinely act as if my being fat is a tragedy, which doesn't help me feel any better about it.

But that super thin 27 year old was much more self-absorbed, much harsher, and far less kind. I had room in my life to obsess about what I ate and to go on long runs because I didn't have much else, you know? I wish I had both time and motivation to run like I used to, but while I am nowhere near happy with my body right now, I am so much happier with my life. And my husband is more than willing to do whatever I need to get happy again, up to and including loving me and cherishing me no matter what I look like. I would put up with nothing else.

Julie

My gut-level reaction to this debate is defensive -- I would bristle at any man, especially my husband, who thought he had the right to tell me how to look.

If it's a question of caring concern, though, I think MIM does have a valid point. The difficulty is knowing your spouse/partner well enough to know the difference between a true downward spiral and the inevitable consequences of time -- or even just a temporary change.

In my marriage we are both struggling to eat better -- mostly because we want to lose weight (hey, we're American, after all), but also because we want to set a better example for our daughter. Reading these posts, I realize how blessed we are that we are partners in this, and that one of us is not forcing it on the other.

Nicole

MIM says "I think SPOUSES owe it to each other to not go through drastic physical changes (barring any medical or psychological condition) without consulting the other person."

The funny thing is I've never known anyone who intentionally tried to gain weight. Can you imagine the conversation 'Um honey, I think I'd like to gain 40 lbs, is that all right with you?'

I guess what it comes down to is I don't agree with MIM's statement above. I shouldn't have to consult my hubby to dye or cut my hair, change my wardrobe or suddenly decide to work out and get all cut and fit. While I do sometimes get his input on these things I don't think I 'owe' it to him.

And Moxie, I loved your ruminations on the symbolism of a woman's body. I had to laugh to myself because I'd been pondering Julie's (alittlepregnant) last post on comparing children all week. Then when I read your post I realize I spend more time comparing myself to the other preschool mom's these days then I do comparing my kids to other kids. Too funny.

Bethany

MIM's post left me bewildered. Was she right? Have the (what I consider every day) problems in my marriage been caused by me and my extra weight? Am I depressed and self-loathing as she says I must be because I am FAT?

Then I got mad, and ranted against the "false advertising" analogy in my head.

Then I read your post, and I said, "Thank you, Moxie." You put into words what I was struggling so hard to understand.

There are no easy answers, but you explored the issue with compassion and honesty.

Great post.

surcie

Hey, Moxie!

Great post. I have a significant weight problem. In fact, I weigh about 80 pounds more than when my husband met me. Losing it and dealing with why and what I eat is always at the forefront of my mind. That's why I recently joined WW--for the third time. The thing I know about myself and my weight is that I can't lose it for anyone else. If I dropped it for the approval of my husband, I would gain it back plus more. And I would resent him the entire time. For someone to suggest that it's unfair of me to have gained this weight is. . .unfair! For one thing, I could not have predicted that I would lose all my "baby weight" and more shortly after childbirth only to gain it all back plus more because of postpartum depression. And like lots of mothers of 2-year olds, I reward myself with food and I de-stress with food. Shaming women about their weight only accomplishes one thing: It makes them want to EAT.

These days, a lot more mothers are drinking alcohol to help take the edge off. Much more shameful to be fat, I guess.

k

uh i've got to pimp 'i blame the patriarchy' for yet another take on this one... :)
http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2006/03/22/hot-mama/#comments

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