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Cecily

What an interesting perspective. I wrote about this today too. The comments here made me think about the fact that my hubbie was a poet when we got together, and it was one of the reasons I fell for him. Now he doesn't write much, and photographs freight trains instead. So should I be angry at him? He evolved in a way I don't really love (I don't mind the trains, but GAH it's geeky, not nearly as cool as being a poet), so should I sue him for false advertising? LOL.

the patriarch

I would say women put way more pressure on themselves then men do on them regarding their appearance. Sure, female media figures are also usually stick figures, but ask your average guy what he likes and it's usually a little meat on the bones.

I'll agree that women are faced with unique pressures in childrearing thanks to mammalian biology. The last 30 years have proven to be revolutionary, I think, in the way that men have taken on more childrearing duties, but there are a few things we just can't do. Same goes with the increasing options available to women. Also, the growing trend of stay at home dads.

Jodi

I have to admit, I didn't read all the replies, because I got tired.

One of my jobs is in oncology, working with head and neck cancer patients.

All I can say is, if your husband thinks you have violated some premarriage agreement because you gained weight, what would he do if you had to have a cancer removed from the base of your tongue and had to have your whole neck and side of your face resected?

And that's just my area -- what about burns, scarring from car accidents, breast cancer?

Are you just the sum of your appearance? Or are you important because you are who you are inside?

By all means, be healthy. Exercise (weight bearing and aerobic), eat healthy things in healthy amounts if you can. But dress how you will, wear your hair how you will, shave or not, those things shouldn't matter to a healthy relationship.

mamacate

Awesome.

Thanks for this. I think you've really put the whole thing in an important context: the sense of ownership of women's bodies by others.

I don't think lesbians are exempt from this issue; I'm certainly not. We certainly don't have the weight of a couple millenia of patriarchy coloring the meaning of our reactions to each other's changes, but we are also not immune to our culture's demands on women and their bodies.

I have been obsessing about my weight for a while now, and it's really the first time in my life. I gained a bunch of weight with IF treatment, then lost it all while BFing, and have now gained it back through the magic of the hormones that got me infertile in the first place (which appear to have been on pause while I was pg and bfing). So, while I don't feel I have ANY responsibility to my partner to look any particular way, and in fact she is sometimes puzzled at my obsession with eyebrow plucking and such, I am trying to manage the career and parenting twins and crafting and blogging and everything and it's damn hard to fit in exercise and it's damn hard not to sit down at the end of the day with girl scout cookies and a glass of wine (damn you girl scouts damn you!). For health reasons (the hormones again) I want to try exercising to see if my symptoms go away, but I have mixed feelings about my desire to conform to skinny ideals. When the weight melted off with bfing, I loved it. I looked really good in clothes and I placed a rather unfeminist value on that. Now I'm probably stronger and certainly better-rested, and I feel way less attractive. It sucks.

And you know what, my partner would like to lose about 30 pounds too, and she is still a super hot mama. It was an adjustment when I realized that holding her (and being held by her--she's very tall as well as being bigger-boned) was a different feeling than when we were both in our early 20's. But isn't that part of growing old together? I wonder if some of the certainty of the OP might not disappear sometime in her late 30's or early 40's. Our bodies change--drastically--throughout our lifespans. That's part of what we commit to with a life partnership.

Michele

I am way fatter than any of you who have revealed your weight so I cant help but "weigh" in on this issue (harhar).
I so appreciate the way Moxie mentioned all of the stress we put our bodies through having these children. I am yes, 50 lbs heavier than when hubby and I started dating. And I was already big when we met. That was also 9 years, three failed IUI's, one IVF, a twin pregnancy, two major job losses, near financial disaster, two moves, one home sale, one home building, a loss of a dear family member, failed breastfeeding, a possible nervous breakdown (not mine) and numerous bounced checks, missed appointments, disapointing career moves, failed pregnancy tests and sleepless nights ago.

I dont think I "owe" it to my husband to lose weight. We are both different people, for better and worse, than we were when we married. But I do, for the first time in my life, think I owe it to someone else to lose weight - my kids. They are only one year old, and right now they think I hung the sun and invented Elmo. But I dont want them to ever wonder why their Mommy is fatter than blah, blah, blah's Mommy. And I want to be around for a long time for them.

Hubby will love the loss too, I am sure. But as my mom said once about my Dad "The secret to the success of our marriage is that he never let on that he knew I was fat."

Her Bad Mother

MOst people would have described me as slim, maybe even skinny, before I had Baby. And I had been naturally slim all my life. Then I gained over 60 pounds during the pregnancy and most of them haven't come off. I loved the transformation during the pregnancy - I felt big and lush and healthy. But afterwards? Not so much. I had been pysically transformed - tiny hips were now broad, modest boobs were big, and the ass, my god, the ass. I have felt, at time, completely overwhelmed by the physical transformation. And afraid. What if Husband no longer found me attractive? After all, the cow he bought (forgive forgive!) was a lean one.

But the awesome, awesome Husband insists that he loves my new body - that my new body complements my new identity as a mother, that the hips, the ass, the boobs are part of the sexiness of being a mother. He's telling me the truth, I know, and I love him for that. But me, I'm still struggling with the loss of my old self. I advertised me to me as skinny girl. What I'm struggling with is 'what deal have I struck with me?' Do I owe it to myself to fight back down to girly weight? Or embrace my new self? Somewhere in between?

(Obviously, this isn't a *big* weight issue. We're not talking 60 pounds. But we are talking 30. Which is big to me.)

GREAT topic.

Carla Hinkle

I can see why a lot of comments are from women who either have had (1) an eating disorder or food issues or (2) health problems that have led to extreme weight gain/loss. I can see why MIM's original post would be upsetting because for women in either of those 2 camps, weight/food is really tied in with all sorts of emotional issues.

For me, however, I just need to be honest. I am about a size bigger than before I had a baby. Yes, some of it is due to the decreased time I have for exercise now. But a lot of it is due to using food as a reward, eating crap because it makes me happy, eating 2 helpings at dinner. I don't think I am excessive at this, but I HAVE gotten lazy and to some extent "let myself go." I don't like it, not one bit.

My husband never says a thing. But I do want to look my best for him as well as myself and I don't think this is a bad thing.

I also think that it can be very convenient to say "well, really it is all about eating healthily, not just being thin," to accept a weight gain, when if I am honest, I'm not really eating that healthily. Fish and veggies for dinner may be healthy, but what about those Hostess Donettes I had from AM-PM this afternoon? Not. Yes, I like myself better as a person now than 10 years ago when I was thinner. But that doesn't mean I can't work to feel better/look better now too.

Sorry for the ramble.

PS I also don't think this topic is really meant for anyone with a child under 2. At that point you are still dealing with nursing, a post-partum body, crazy sleep schedules, etc. Your body is not your own and you just have to get by for a little while until it is again.

Monica

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, myself, not so much about the weight (although I do have 20 lbs of baby weight lingering on and on...) but because of what Slim said:

"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."

Just that sense of myself AS a self apart from "mother"--it's missing a lot of the time. I know it's a cliche, but I don't really stop to take care of myself anymore. The time I DO get to myself is spent on the computer (my lifeline and best friend these days), sleeping, or reading. Certainly not exercising or planning outfits.And ITA with Moxie about how food can serve as a treat, a way to get through the day. I wake up jonesing for my coffee immediately--I promise myself chocolate or a mocha during Madam's crying fits.

More time is the solution to so many of these problems--if I had more than an hour or so a day to myself, I might be able to make my physical and emotional ends meet beyond bare maintainence. But where does this time come from when you're not near family or friends, and your husband is working ALL the time?

Rosemary Grace

All this makes me very grateful that throughout the past 2 months, knowing I was going to get a large incision in the middle of my face because of removing a skin cancer, then recovering form the surgery, I never EVER had to worry about my husband's reaction to my appearance. He's mature enough, and loves ME enough, to look past the bandages/incision and into my eyes. I only have to worry about coming to terms with the change for myself.

Of course, it has ocurred to me that others might feel sorry for him having a "damaged" specimen so soon after marrying me. Then I realize that would make them assholes for objectifying me.

inkstains

Go, Jodi, and Go Moxie.

Great post.

We have been writing about this for two days. Click on the link for more.

Num Num

I only have this to say: Marilyn M was at least a size 12 (an old-fashioned size 12) and Grace Kelly at her most beautiful princess look was at least a size 14, at least.

Kate

*nodding in agreement* with Monica...sometimes I find it horrifying that I literally forget to brush my teeth until Miss M goes down for her nap (noonish). I actually was much better on the personal maintenance front when she was an infant...now from the second she stops nursing and says "All done!" and scrambles down from the bed, the jig is up until she's sleeping again.

Anyway, I've cried to my husband on several late nights that I have become a boring drone because some (most!) days I don't have the slightest clue what's going on in the world...although very likely I'd be able to tell you what the letter and number of the day were on Sesame Street.

Some days I miss being a grown up, and around grown ups, so much. But then my daughter hugs me so frequently in the shower that I can't wash her front, and it doesn't seem to matter quite as much.

Brooke

Thank God I don't have a husband.

liz

I'm 10% heavier than I was when I got married. My hair is 15" shorter and 30% greyer. I wear contacts instead of glasses. I have more wrinkles and I wax my eyebrows (still seldom wear make-up, but my eyebrows just got way too bushy for my taste).

My husband is 30% heavier and 40% greyer.

And - for health reasons only (high cholesterol for me, high blood pressure for him) - we should lose some weight, but neither of us think less of the other for changing how we look after 10 years of marriage and 4 years of parenting.

My husband prefers my glasses to my contacts, but supports my desire to not have see the world through smudgy toddler fingerprints. And he prefers my hair long, but supports my desire not to have it get in my way.

Are we supposed to ask for permission to get laugh lines? Grey hair? Do we need to have plastic surgery and dye jobs to "maintain" our looks from our marriage date? In what way is gaining weight through pregnancy, parenting, knee injuries, whatever any different?

Susan Wagner

Moxie, you have the most amazing readers--and you yourself are so smart (you recommended, at Miles, etc., that I read the Brain, Child piece about Caitlin Flannagan that I CANNOT find anywhere, can you help me?). But what I wanted to say was this: I have a five-year-old son who has been diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder--today I met with one new doctor, and tomorrow I have an appointment with another. And how did I channel my worry about my son?

By worrying about what to wear. Yes, really! Even though my god does that make me seem shallow (even to ME, let me say) because you are right on in your assertion that "The mother is usually the face of the family at school, so a more attractive mother indicates a more successful family, and this influences teachers and administrators' opinions of the children." I want the doctors to like my son, and I am his representative, as it were, and . . .

And I hate this, because I am one of those women who NEVER consults with her husband about a haircut or color or what I wear. I kept my name when I married. I don't really care what my husband thinks about my politics or my appearance.

But the funny thing is--he likes my politics. He likes my hair. He likes the way I look. But not because of any contract between us, and not because I check in with him before I make changes (and I have made DRASTIC changes over the years) but because he loves ME. But the doctor tomorrow? He does not necessarily love me.

So I need to go pick an outfit. But I am so glad you all are talking abou this.

Spacemom

I apologise, I do not have time to read all of the comments. I did read all of the posts you linked to.

I have to respectfully disagree with your statements about mom and dad. In my family, we have worked togather. I would say 60-40 (I get the 60). We BOTH worked at getting pregnant. It wasn't just hand holding, it was honest to goodness work for him to help me through everything.
During pregnancy, he didn't just hold my hand, he cleaned, cooked and made sure I rested. In my second pregnancy, he took care of our oldest when I couldn't and he took almost exclusive care of her when I was on bedrest.

I lost 50lbs after we got married. Why? I was sick. I had undiagnosed thyroid desease. Once we solved it, I needed to lose that weight. For me.
I kept it off for my kids.
And my husband. So they could have a healthy family member.

I tend to agree that I want to be healthy, not just for me, but for my family. I make time to exercise (at work by skipping lunch hour and eating at my desk) I try to watch my food intake.

I guess it is more of a health issue for me and I want to be healthy for my family. Because when we are sick, it screws everyone (right now, Dr. Jay is ill and it is affecting everyone).

Does that make sense? I guess I agree with MM on the false advertising a little, but more for the health reasons rather than "looking good"

ronda

Wow, I wasn't going to make any comments on this topic but the more I think about it the more I get myself worked up into a later.
Ladies, I think some of you have lost the plot on the original post. Never once in MIM’s post did she say that your husband will fall out of love with you if you gain weight. Never once did MIM say that your look or lifestyle should be dictated by what your husband thinks. What she did say is that she works to maintain her figure for her husband and more importantly HERSELF. It does come down to having enough self respect for yourself to pull your face out of the ice cream carton and get healthy. There are things you can control and weight is one of them.
Oh and to the woman that suggested a disfiguring car accident or having part of your face removed from cancer surgery could be a drastic change … you aren’t even on the map of this topic.

Genevieve

Reading Jen Creer's post (linked from Tertia's -- http://inkstains.wordpress.com/2006/03/22/verso-the-unbearable-lightness-of-being-thin-by-jen-creer/ ) was the saddest for me -- because my father was like that. I only found out a few years ago that my father left my mother, in part, because she gained weight and he was no longer attracted to her. He left her when I was under 2, so she still had the baby weight (not to mention that he was a doctor and my impression was he was very little help with me, the baby).

How did I find this out? A few years ago, when he sat me down and told me I needed to lose about 40 pounds. (which number he later admitted was based on a number he'd lost -- at the time, I was about 20-25 pounds overweight) He told me he was concerned my husband could stop being attracted to me, and he knew, because it had happened to him.

I was so stunned I didn't know what to say, until I sputtered out that my husband wasn't that shallow. I'm proud to say that my husband agreed completely, when I spoke to him afterwards, and was insulted that my dad would ever believe that about him.

I lost so much respect for my father that day, and it hurt our relationship a great deal. I spent several years seething that my dad would rather have a thin daughter than a happy, smart, or successful daughter. We had had a good relationship before that, and I've worked on keeping it up -- because he is my dad and has many other good qualities -- but it was the worst thing I'd ever heard him say, that he'd done that to my mom. When she was less than two years post-partum (maybe one year, I'm not sure).

I'm doing Weight Watchers now and losing weight, but it's because I want to, not because anyone else does. It's because I didn't like my pants wearing out at the thighs from being rubbed together, or the idea of having to buy bigger clothes. And I know I'll be healthier and like the way I look better when I'm thinner, both. I know when I was thinner I had more energy, fewer backaches, and an easier time getting dressed in the morning. But every time I think about my dad in connection with weight, I get pissed off. Who needs to be involve with someone that shallow? And that's why Jen's post hit so hard. She changed for him -- he stayed with her -- and then three years later she left HIM. Because she realized what an ass he was. Good for her. I'm so glad she's happy now and with someone who appreciates her. (And I'm glad I am too.)

Emilin

I'm with Brooke (both literally and figuratively).

Moxie

Ronda, I don't think you read the introduction to my post. I'm commenting on all the posts in this discussion, not just the original one. If I'd wanted to stick just to MIm's original topic I would have just commented on her post.

Maybe things are bigger than just the little world MIM lives in? Maybe it's not just about one couple, or even 1,000 couples? Maybe it's something we can all examine and look at to find out what our shared experience is.

Here on my blog, all of the commenters are *exactly* on topic.

Rose

Actually, I was really displeased with your post (which has never happened before. Guess you touched a nerve?)

My husband wants me to be happy, period. If I am less happy when I am heavy, then he wants me to work on my internalized fat phobia so that I can be happy, regardless of my weight.

Similar to the oncology nurse, I work for hospice. No one, I repeat no one, gets what they were promised from their spouse. Life (and death, and weight gain, and weight loss, and illness, and pregnancy, and childbirth....) happen to us (some if we are lucky, some when we arent). I would be very, very unhappy if my spouse felt that a contract had been violated.

But, for me, the worst part about all of these posts is the fatphobic attitude. That gaining weight makes you depressed, obviously means you have lower self-respect and no self worth.

Fuck that. Just fuck that. I do not need to hear that from one more fucking person.

My weight (I have been both under and over weight) has NOTHING to do with who I am. Period. And if it is fucking with my happiness, then maybe I should reevaluate what makes me happy and why. Because regardless of how I look, it will change, for the 'worse' over the course of my life. If I am lucky. If I live long enough.

I refuse to define myself by something so impermanent and so wholly unattached to what I really have to offer.

Rose

Also, I refuse to allow my husband to say that a contract has been violated based, again, on something so impermanent and so completely unrelated to who I am.

Moxie

Rose, I ever said being fat makes you depressed. I strongly feel that being depressed can make a person fat, but I don't think it correlates the other way.

I also think there's a *huge* difference between unhappy and depressed. I've been both, sometimes together, sometimes separately, and I think if a person hasn't been actually depressed she might not know the difference, but there is one. Right now I'm unhappy, specifically about my body, but I'm not depressed. I'm pleased that my husband's unhappy about my unhappiness. I'd be pissed if he were unhappy about my weight, and it would be a major issue. But his unhappiness about my unhappiness is love and concern.

I never even went into the territory of expectations or people changing during marriage, because it seem so obvious to me (probably because of my family history) that you have *no* idea what you're signing on for, so you'd better really love the person inside because that's all you're likely to be left with by the end of things. But then I'm the woman who didn't even consider consulting her husband before she got braces (I told him ahead of time, but it wasn't really a consult, more of a "I'm going to get braces on Thursday.) because I knew if I didn't get them my oral health would be compromised.

I'm not sure what you read in my post was actually there, but I'm glad that since you didn't like it you posted that you didn't like it.

I've been so gratified to have *all* these comments, whether you liked the post or not.

chris

I think we're giving this woman too much attention. She wrote a blog entry, parts of which I think many of us can agree with to a certain extent, but which in the end says more about her issues with food and her body than it does about anything else. There's nothing original there. It seems like the worthless dribble of a middle-aged housewife.

Much like my own blog, come to think about it.

JustLinda

I've been compulsively reading all the blogs and all the comments I could find linked since I stumbled upon Mim's post this afternoon.

I, too, had a visceral reaction, sat in my office near tears feeling so hopeless and disillusioned by some of the views in this world.

I spend so much energy trying not to hate myself and it gets hard when I read some of what I read today... it would just be so much easier to throw in the towel and dispise myself as much as so many others seem to by insinuating that this is some sort of willful choice or whatever. I can't seem to get my words out in any coherent fashion. I blogged about it today, but it was more of a vent I suppose.

I felt trampled upon, reading some of what I've read today.

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