Okay, gonna begin here with a trigger warning for people who’re triggered by weight loss and diet and stuff. You all should not read any further.
Anyways, via Ampersand I found the following question posted to “Dear Polly.” It’s about a woman who wasn’t attracted a man because he was overweight, but then when he lost lots of weight, she was attracted to him, and then he has sex with her and subsequently blows her off in an emotional confrontation where he calls her shallow.
But after a conversation of vague, ambiguous answers, I finally blurted out everything that I was feeling. I wanted him, and I felt like he was punishing me for not being interested in him before. He started laughing, then called me shallow. Saying that he could never date me because he “would have to get on a scale every morning” to determine if he was worthy of me. That his personality had not changed, and that a small change in physical appearance shouldn’t take my interest level from 0 to 100. He then went into lawyer mode, showing me Facebook posts from his heavy days and now; the same clever Facebook status that had gotten 30 likes when he was overweight got over 100 now that he was thin. He then became upset, near tears even, and told me that the saddest part of losing weight was that people finally complimented him on qualities he’d always had.
Now I’m not going to say that either party comes off looking good in this situation. Both the woman and the man come off as heartless and unempathetic. However, I think that both parties are also really understandable. Obviously, as someone who’s lost a considerable amount of weight, I have at times felt like that man. I mean, it sucks to be with people who you know would not have found you attractive before. And I’ve also fantasized about putting paid to the kind of person who would have rejected me before.
But I also sympathize with the woman. I am like every other human being in the world. I weed out potential romantic partners on the basis of looks. And if you’re not attracted to a guy, then you can’t be with him. And if his looks change, but all his other great qualities remain the same, then it makes sense that you’d want to be with him.
I mean, I think Polly nails it in her answer. What’s happening in this story is that a lifetime of feeling-shitty-about-himself is leaching out of that man’s system and poisoning his relationships with other people. And the reason that the woman feels so bad about this, instead of laughing it off as just one of those things, is that she’s also got hangups about her looks. She doesn’t want her looks to be a factor in her loves, so she’s upset at being reminded that that’s just not how things are.
Anyway, the reason that I posted about this story is that this the weight loss fantasy. This is what people dream about. They hope that everyone will regard them differently and that they’ll be more beloved in every possible social situation.
But I think that the reality of weight loss for most people (including myself) is that you get to the end, and you’re like…”That’s it?”
Because the truth is that I am not a supermodel. I’ll never have six-pack abs (due to loose skin, that’s literally impossible for me). And I’ll always be myopic and balding. In fact, when I look in the mirror, I often perceive little-to-no difference between how I look now and how I looked when I was 110 pounds heavier.
And as far as I can tell, people haven’t really treated me differently. I mean, I am much more popular, both in person and in social media, than I was three years ago. But that’s a result of so many things (including some very conscious changes in how I manage my social and social media lives), that I’d have a hard time attributing it entirely to the weight loss.
I have no doubt that being thinner makes it easier to interact with people, particularly strangers, and that it brings me opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. But…it’s not a world of difference. Let’s call it maybe 10-20% improvement.
And, you know, that’s pretty much it. That’s what happens when you lose weight (at least as a man–I’ve no doubt that it’s very different for women).
Oh, I am able to wear t-shirts now. I do like that. Before, t-shirts were a no-go because their shapeless cut is no good if you have chest or stomach fat. Nowadays I even wear the free t-shirts that are given to me by various organizations. Oh my god, I can even wear t-shirts from the thrift store. That’s something, I guess.