I am a supporter of Health At Every Size, a movement aimed at accepting all body types and refuting the cultural admiration of thinness. This involvement is the direct result of a lifetime of conditioning to hate, mistrust and compare our bodies with those depicted in the media.
I know I’m not alone in how I felt before. I can’t think of one woman who is satisfied with her figure as is. Every woman I know is either on a diet, working out compulsively or lamenting weight gain.
But I’d had enough of it. After a lifetime of dieting and wishing I looked like someone I wasn’t, I just gave up all efforts to do so. It was the best thing I ever did. Turns out, research proves that the main cause of adult obesity is dieting itself. I’m so glad I was able to get off that particular roller-coaster!
But, my own feelings aside, how did this affect my dating life?
Well, in the past, it was a huge detriment. I constantly avoided people and occasions where I thought I’d be scrutinized by my appearance. I also avoided the attention of most men because I thought they would ultimately reject me. While I was a CatholicMatch member, I made sure to list my body type as “a few extra pounds” to avoid misunderstandings. When browsing profiles, the very first section I perused was the seeking section to see if it said “slim,” “slender” or that popular coded phrase, “A woman who takes care of herself.” If I had contact with anyone, I emphasized my build to prepare them – perhaps too much.
Most people, with the exception of a few, were fine with the way I looked. However, I wasn’t, and it usually became a problem of my own doing. Cue the dating disasters!
A new paradigm
Once I understood the Health at Every Size ethos and accepted my figure exactly as it is, things changed for me. I noticed that strangers were more polite, friends were less critical, and dating was easier. The reality is that once I felt comfortable in my own skin, it allowed others to be more comfortable as well.
What a relief!
It also led to a few interesting discoveries. For one, talking to men about this issue allowed me to see that I’d been listening to the cultural buzz and taking it far too seriously. It seems that most men don’t actually prefer the figure of super models, as I’d always assumed.
Research backs this up as well. I recently read an article that, when surveyed, men preferred a figure that is not only fuller than a typical high-fashion model but also much curvier than I’d have expected.
The reason for this is fascinating! It all has to do with the hip-to-waist ratio. When men had to rate attractiveness, the highest scoring figures were those with round hips, full thighs and small waists. Figures like this scored higher than those of models, who generally have straighter hips and smaller thighs.These men may not be aware of the primal need informing their choice, though. The researchers found that the most favorable hip-to-waist ratio indicates that 30 percent of the bodily fat distribution rests in the hip/thigh area – the very area that needs the most protection during pregnancy. Not only that, but fat distribution reveals the types of fat consumed. This hip/thigh fat indicates high levels of Omega-3 fat, which is not only the healthiest for women but a large contributor to brain development in fetuses. So in the most reductive terms, the rounder the hips, the smarter the baby.
So the moral of this story is this: Men, I take it all back. Not all of you are interested in only the skinny girls. And your body preferences are not shallow after all. And women: The best thing you can do for your own peace of mind, as well as your relationships, is love and accept your body, just as it is, right now. It has its own inherent wisdom, and it looks the way it does for a reason. For all of us single Catholics, we could keep in mind that God created our bodies, not the media.