His name was ... well, nevermind. I'll just call him Mr. X -- because I'm sure every woman has had a Mr. X in their life. You know, that boyfriend who is completely looks-obsessed. Not about his looks, but about the woman's. My particular Mr. X was focused on finding fault with my weight -- as a size two gal.
During the course of my 6-month relationship with Mr. X, he found a variety of creative ways to call me "fat" -- beginning right smack within our first two months. Mr. X had just returned from dinner with a friend, and was sharing a tidbit from their boy talk.
"I was telling my friend all about you tonight," Mr. X began. "And he thought you sounded great -- said he's jealous. He asked if you were thin too -- said he'd be very jealous if you were thin, too. And I told him, no, no, you're not thin."
"I'm not thin?" I asked.
"No, you're not thin," Mr. X confirmed. "Thin is weighing 100 pounds. Like trophy girl thin, or my ex-wife, or models, or an Asian girl. You know, Size Zero."
"And you're telling me about this thin thing because...?" I asked Mr. X.
He ummmmmmmed in response.
"Does my weight bother you?" I prodded.
"Well...you have gained a few pounds since we first started dating. How much weight do you think you've gained?"
"Maybe five to eight pounds. Why? Is it an issue?"
"You do look a little heavier than when we first met."
"So, is this weight gain an issue?"
"I know many men care a lot about weight. But that's not who I think I am -- and that's not who I want to be," Mr. X offered in response.
Suddenly I found myself having an out-of-body experience -- where I was looking down at my body -- in every double entendre sense of "looking down at." I began feeling very, very bad about being a Size Two -- with my occasional foray into Size Four during PMS and/or right after Halloween.
And I felt especially bad about feeling bad -- because, well...
My turn to Ummmmmmmmm...
Admittedly, this is a story with many ironies... some of which include:
I am a best-selling self-help book author -- so, theoretically I shouldn't allow myself to get neurotically suckered in by Mr. X's uber-superficiality.
I'm a "fairy goddess mentor" to many young girls in their 20's -- offering free wise counsel on how to live their most empowered, confident lives.
In fact, a few days before Mr. X's "thinnist" slandering, I'd shared a fascinating report from Girls Inc. with one of the young girls I mentor, about how young girls today feel this need to be "Super Girl" thin. Last year 60% of girls ages eight to twelve said that they believed to be popular, you must be thin -- a rise up from 48% of girls in 2000. Sadly, as girls get older, their overall worries about appearance get worse. In grades 3-5, 54% of girls worry about their appearance. In grades 6-8, 74% of girls worry about appearance. And in grades 9-12, 76% of girls worry about appearance.
Obviously this "Appearance-centrism" didn't stop at high school graduation. Here I was -- a grown woman -- feeling like a big fat zero just because I wasn't a Size Zero. And feeling unlovable to boot because of my Size Four booty.
Unfortunately there are far too many of us grown women who never outgrew our weight awareness. In a 2006 Times Online article citing a British magazine survey of 5,000 women, it was reported: "The average woman worries about her body every 15 minutes..more frequently than men think about sex." The least popular body parts: thighs (hated by 87%) and waists (disliked by 79%).
Thankfully one body part was found to be angst-free. No. Not the brain. Women found their ankles to be very lovable.
I am happy to simultaneously report that there are men out there who aren't choosing love by the poundage. My friend David told me he fell in love with his wonderful wife of 13 years because he adored her "world lens" - for all the interesting perspectives she shared about life.
I much preferred David's idea of love (being turned on by how your paramour looked at the world) over Mr. X's idea of love (being turned on by how your paramour's looks might look to the world).
What made Mr. X's Size Zero barbs especially confusing were:
1. Behind closed doors, our sex life was still hot and active.
2. Mr. X strongly pursued me when we first met -- telling me on our third date how he thought I was his "soulmate." I wondered: If I was truly Mr. X's "soulmate" - then didn't this mean we were connecting soul to soul - in the erogenous zone of spirit -- which should not be encumbered by a few extra pounds? Wasn't there good reason there's no expression "seeking one's egomate" - that reason being love shouldn't be about "an affair of the egos"! After all, I wasn't superficially concerned with what Mr. X looked like. However, I assume that you, as the reader, might be kinda curious what Mr. X looked like...so I will share. And this info actually brings me to...
Mr. X was no George Clooney. Indeed, the actor Mr. X most resembled was Woody Allen. He had the same glasses, balding head, lanky frame -- and apparently some of Woody's love dysfunction.
But truly I didn't care what Mr. X looked like. For me, love and chemistry has always been about something quite intangible. One of my favorite quotes about love comes from the The Little Prince: "It's only with the heart that one can see rightly; what's most important is invisible to the eye."
I love the Little Prince's world lens on love- how the heart makes the best lens for love!
Unfortunately we need more of this lens on love in today's world.
Did you know that teen cosmetic surgery is on the speedy rise?
According to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 1997 there were 59,890 procedures performed on patients under 18. Cut to the cosmetic cutting being performed in 2007 - and there's a tremendous increase to 205,119 procedures performed on patients under 18!
It's just so sad -- all this tremendous pressure on young girls to be thin and perfect looking!
There are 12-year old girls out there getting lipo -- and 13 year old girls getting gastric lap bands!
And did you know that Abercrombie created a sexy thong - in young girl's sizes -- with the words "eye candy" and "wink wink" printed on the front?
Plus Victoria's Secret is the most visited specialty clothing retailer among teen girls!
How can this be?
Because there's a lot of societal pressure on young girls to be babes -- even though they've barely outgrown being mere babies.
My guess: If Mr. X had had a young daughter, not a son, he wouldn't have been so apt to say so many insensitive things to me about my weight.
My hope: Mr. X's superficial views would not infiltrate his young son's mind because, hell, we need more guys out there who are not so obsessed with a woman's thinness and beauty perfection!
My even greater world hope: Together we need to do something more as a society to change these unrealistic expectations for female thinness and beauty. And to do so, we need to start early on by telling young girls (and young boys!) that a girl is amazing not because of what she looks like -- but because of all the fabulous things she does and who she is! And while we're at it, I'd love to re-define "Trophy Girl" so it starts to mean "a girl who's amazing for all the fabulous things she does and who she is!"
Karen Salmansohn is the best selling author of THE BOUNCE BACK BOOK: HOW TO
THRIVE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY, SETBACKS, AND LOSSES. And if you're curious
to see photos of Karen at 118.5 pounds, visit www.notsalmon.com.