By S.H. Blannelberry
Does your Boyfriend think you’re fat? Honestly, I hope not. But he just might.
I’d like to soften the blow and say something dishonest like, “it doesn’t matter what he thinks, it only matters what you think about yourself,” but we both know that that’s a bunch of poppycock. It does matter what he thinks. Of course, it does matter what you think too, but it matters what he thinks as well.
(All of what I’ve said, and what I’m about to say, presupposes you are in a healthy, semi-functional, pretty serious relationship, i.e. you’re not dating Chris Brown).
It matters what he thinks because as a New York Times Columnist once said, “we’re not rational animals, we’re social animals.”
If we were rational animals, well, arguably we’d be able to keep our emotions in check, look at the dynamics of our relationship(s) objectively, and come to terms with our shortcomings without the anxiety that triggers maladaptive behavior. We wouldn’t stress over our hooknoses, our butt chins, our hairy lips, our kankles etc. We’d calmly reason that our phenotype is what it is.
But we’re not rational; we’re inherently social. What does this mean? It means our environment, our cultural milieu, and our social network defines us as much, if not more, than our own individual resolve, free will, and personal volition. What he thinks matters at least as much as what you think because it ultimately plays a large part in informing or complicating your own self-image.
I should pause and note the paradoxical nature of this concept. That is, one’s self image is ideally divorced of all outside input and is created only by the individual’s refined sense of beauty, character, accomplishment, etc. However, the reality is one’s self-image is inextricably tied to and derived from one’s experiences in multiple social contexts and environments.
See, I once had a girlfriend early on tell me that I had small… ears. It was a comment made in passing, not something she dwelt on for any length of time, but it stuck with me for years. Actually, I am still self-conscious about my tiny… ears.
Similarly, your weight or body physique can become a point of contention and personal stress. If a boyfriend makes a remark that suggests your body is slightly larger in certain areas than what would be considered optimal, it can be a serious blow to your self-esteem, which in turn transmogrifies your self-image or vice versa (self-image: how you see your physical appearance, self-esteem: how you see your entire self).
For the most part, I would imagine that you could glean when your boyfriend is indirectly commenting on your weight. I assume this for the simple reason that guys are bad liars. However, if you’re not sure whether he is or isn’t, consider the following:
If, out of seemingly nowhere, he has taken a sudden interest in your clothes, then he may be telling you something: “Hey, honey, are you comfortable in those jeans?” “I’m not sure I like the looks of that shirt.” “Maybe you should go with that dress instead of the skirt.”
If, when you ask him about your figure, he stutters or stammers or has trouble articulating his thoughts (extra trouble, more than usual) then he definitely has an opinion on the issue, but he is just afraid to express it. “Fat… naw, naw, naw… um… yeah, I don’t think you’re… um… fat. Nope.”
“Let’s Go for a Run”
If he’s pushing you to exercise more frequently then obviously he’s pointing out that you’ve probably put on some pounds. “Great day for a run, isn’t it?” “I was thinking about joining the athletic center, you wanna join with me?”
Questioning Your Diet
If he starts ordering food for you, or if he starts randomly questioning you on your food selection, then yeah, he’s intimating that something you don’t want to hear. “Ranch? I didn’t know you liked ranch, I always thought you like the low fat Italian?” “Instead of pizza, how bout we go to Jamba Juice?”
“Not in the Mood”
If his sex drive has attenuated significantly, then it’s possible it has to do with your weight. While it’s true that in most relationships things start to cool down after awhile for various reasons (the novelty has worn off, increase workload, stress, etc.), some of my friends cite weight gain as a reason why they don’t want to do it with their girl as often as they used to.
I know what you’re thinking, “this is sad, if not depressing, news.” And while I would agree with that sentiment, there is a silver lining. That is, unlike small… ears, you can lose weight (if, of course, you want too). Or, you can act more like a rational animal and date someone less vain.
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