Fat Women Get Fewer Dates

Becoming a stronger, fitter, more confident you.

Fat Women Get Fewer Dates

Fat women get fewer dates.

They do not get fewer marriages.

Pause. 

Read this again:

Fat women get fewer dates.

They don’t get fewer marriages.

I’ve been going back and forth on whether to write about this or not.

On the one hand, I have so much to say…

On the other hand, I’m sick and tired of pointing to the flaws in our systems and would so much rather focus on creating a healthier, stronger, safer, more empowering space that will eventually overshadow the one that currently exists.

But when all is said and done, I couldn’t just let this go.

So, here I am, one week late, saying what I should have said sooner in response to the recent Dating Dialogue column:

There are way too many inappropriate comments that were made that are simply not befitting a Torah publication. Including, but not limited to: 

– “Frame your positive attributes with an attractive figure;” 

– “Only in DisneyLand do handsome princes fall in love with plus-size princesses;” 

– “Shidduchim, to put it bluntly, is a high stakes competition. And the competition is fierce;” 

– “You can nibble on cheesecake while you wait for Mr. Right to love you just the way you are…;” 

But I’m not going to go on about these ridiculous notions, because I feel like that’s already been done. Instead, I’d like to focus on two things:

(1) The reality that fat women do not get fewer marriages than thin women, and

(2) The disconnect between the focus on weight loss and the focus on health that is apparent throughout all the responses to this young woman’s question.

Dates vs Marriages

The reality of the shidduch situation is this:

The not-so-thin girls and women are turned down time and again by guys, their mothers and shadchanim because they don’t fit the aesthetic norm that we have come to expect in shidduchim.

The less-than-slender girls and women experience rejection over and over again because as a community, we place a high level of value on their external appearance.

The girls and women who range in size from a 6 to a 26 (and bigger and smaller) are reminded by countless family members, friends, neighbors, rabbis, shadchanim, acquaintances, shop owners, shul goers, and total strangers that they simply aren’t worthy of a date because they’re just not the right size.

However, when all is said and done, it’s interesting to note that there is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to who gets married “fresh from seminary” and who gets married several years down the road.

I’m constantly hearing that we need to “play the game.” That flawed though it may be, we’re stuck with the system we have and, as one Rebbetzin so ‘gracefully’ responded, “Getting on a high horse about principles is neither smart nor practical.” That it doesn’t matter that as a community we’ve come so far from respecting people for who they are and choose to focus instead on how they look. 

(To be clear, I’ve said this many, many times and will say it once again: Mutual physical attraction is of utmost importance in a relationship. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. But attraction is not defined by a number on a scale or a dress tag, and we seem to have not gotten that memo.)

It seems to me that we’re so busy trying to attract dates… that we put the emphasis on the number of dates rather than the quality of dates. 

And for those for whom G-d decided their time is later, not dating sucks. It’s true. Going for several months, or years, at a time without being set up even once is hurtful. There’s no denying that.

But that doesn’t mean that Mr. Right won’t come along.

And then, will it really matter that a woman only dated her husband instead of 39 other men along the way?

So I ask you: Do we really need to bow down to a system that distorts our true values, that degrades our very beings, and that asks us to perpetuate a mode of behavior that is inconsistent with what we believe at our core when we know that ultimately G-d makes shidduchim at the end of the day?

Do we?


(I need to put here that I’m super tempted to offer up a semi-rant on the way we focus on the importance of tznius for years and years and years, and then allow that tower of beauty, built on a solid foundation of hashkafic understanding, to come crumbling down when we pull the carpet out from underneath it all with the message:

“It’s true that inner beauty is important… But you need to first look the part that society arbitrarily deemed aesthetically acceptable in order for someone to give you a chance to discover that inner beauty. So do whatever it takes to make that happen. Then – and only then – we’ll be happy to help you find someone to appreciate who will appreciate that inner beauty.” But I won’t. Because it’s been said already. So with that, I’ll move on.)


Health vs Weight Loss

If you know me at all, you know that I am 100% pro a healthy, active lifestyle.

Do I promote body positivity, positive body image and a healthy relationship with food?

Sure!

But I also promote healthful eating, regular physical movement and healthy habits built into your current life.

All of the above though, does not equate weight loss. 

Some people gain weight when they eat in a way that nourishes their bodies and some people lose weight.

Some people lose weight when they implement exercise into their daily schedule and some people gain weight.

Because G-d created us differently, and despite what you may have been conditioned to believe, nothing is as simple as “calories in, calories out.”

That’s like saying, “if a car has gas, it’ll go; if it doesn’t, it won’t.”

In that case… goodbye to every Oil Change. 
Sorry, Transmission, you don’t get any attention.
Brakes, you feel worn out? That’s cool, who cares?
…Gas is in the house. We’re good to go.

Um… what?!

There is so much more that goes into making a car function (never mind function optimally) than whether there’s gas in the tank.

But that’s all I processed when I read the many misleading responses that are simply not relevant. Including, but not limited to: 

– “So, go exercise and enjoy the health and dating opportunities;”

– “The benefits of a healthy diet far outweigh an attractive silhouette;”

– “You should not want to lose weight because of guys, dating or shidduchim; rather you should want to become healthier and feel good about yourself;”

– “What I do know unequivocally is that if you do get healthy for yourself you will consequently feel happy, strong, rejuvenated, and confident in your own skin;”

– “Will losing weight affect your health? We both already agree, yes;”

– “There is a lot of research how diet and exercise make individuals happier people, and I believe that’s a great baseline for the klal.”

All of the above statements were made with the assumption that if one were to make healthful food choices and workout on a consistent basis, the pounds will magically disappear, the fat will melt away, the body will become thinner, and the person would be healthier.

Oh, and most importantly, she’d get more dates. 

(Because apparently we care about dates. Not marriages. Oops, am I repeating myself?)

Here’s the problem with all that.

That’s not the way it works.

Yes, what we choose to eat and how we choose to move is important.

Yes, making our health a priority is important.

Yes, proper nutrition intake and movement output does have positive physical and mental benefits.

Yes, maintaining healthy habits on a regular basis is something you should want to do for yourself.

No, none of the above is a sure-fire way to lose weight.

And losing weight is not a sure-fire way to become healthy.

So, let’s stop misguiding people.

I’m 27 years old, I’m fat and I’m single. 

It was for this reason that I hesitated to write about this.

What am I if not proof for the Five Town Jewish Home Dating Dialogue respondants?

After all, many shadchanim have told me that they “have the perfect guy for you… if you’d just lose weight.”

And many friends have told me that “he thinks you’re great and he likes your personality… but he wants someone thin.”

And I’ve been told directly that “I’d date you if you were thinner.”

So… maybe I need to be realistic, game the system, lose some weight, get some dates, and find my bashert?

Maybe if I did that, I’d realize I don’t need to preach Health At Every Size and Positive Body Image from my high horse, because being thin is actually what makes the difference?

Maybe… but maybe not.

And I choose maybe not.

You know why?

Because:

(1) I know that fat women get married. 

(2) I value my physical, mental and emotional health over society’s beauty standards.

(3) I trust that G-d has my back. I’m not worried. I know he knows my future husband. And he knows my address. And He’ll figure it all out.

So in the meantime… you can find me here, helping women develop their strength, energy and confidence so they can pursue an optimal life of physical, mental, and emotional health.

Resources

Weight doesn’t indicate health the way we have been led to believe. I encourage you to have a look at the research for yourself and have dropped a few links below for your convenience.

Books:
Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon
Body of Truth by Harriet Brown 
Body Respect by Linda Bacon

Journals Articles/Blog Posts:
Health At Every Size (Part I)
Is the HAES Approach Useful for Addressing Obesity? 
Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Mortality in Overweight and Obese Individuals
I’m Fat. And I’m Not Proud of It by Yours Truly

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out via social media or by emailing me at sara@fitjewess.com.

8 Responses

  1. Rifkah kranz says:

    Incredible!!!!!

  2. Nechama says:

    First off, I want to tell you that you are literally one of my heroes. Your posts have given me so much chizuk when I went through tough periods in my life where I needed It most. And you’re absolutely right that most of the advice we get is not helpful and only makes the problem worse. But I think the really is very complicated, and I would love to elaborate on it further.

    Disclaimer: it kills me to write this, from a place deep inside my soul. But I feel like I don’t have much of a choice because I want to help girls who want to get married, get married. And no, this is NOT in support of the insensitive comments you referred to in your post, this is basically my experience, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And some of this is just downright ugly and I hate to be the one saying it, but I feel if I don’t nobody will.

    This isn’t a screed telling women they have to be thin or they’ll be single forever. That’s a load of nonsense. Most men don’t care as much as the shadchans think they do. But they do care. Sort of. Let me explain.

    Unfortunately what you write SORT OF goes against my personal experience. When I was younger the single pool had a far less proportion of obese women than it does now, at 28. When I was younger, most of the brides were thin to average, now it’s a mix. So it’s true, obese women do get married. But 95+% of men prefer thin women based on my experience trying to set up people with my guy friends and husband’s friends, and all the frustration it entailed. BUT prefer doesn’t always translate to marry. There are other factors men find more important, to the point where they will deviate from the ideal to some degree (eg marry someone average or slightly overweight) because they know nobody’s perfect. But eventually it gets to a point where weight deviates too far from the ideal to be able to ignore or overlook.

    The idea that all or most men would only marry a thin women is a lie. Most men prefer women who aren’t obese, but the woman doesn’t necessarily have to be thin either.

    I used to believe what you wrote until I lost 50lbs and got married. I started trying to set up my friends with my husband’s single friends. In my pool of single women (meaning girls who struggle to go past the first or second date, who aren’t currently either married or going steady with someone),
    there seem to be 3 types. The three groups only seem to apply to women over 27/28ish, because by then most women who have made getting married a priority since they’re 18/19/20 are usually married by then. In the 27+ age range, women who don’t fit the categories below tend to already be married, divorced, going steady, or have had an unfortunate string of long-ish relationships that ended through nobody’s fault, just bad luck. Even many BTs or converts who don’t fit into these categories tend to get married very soon after becoming BT/converting, in my experience. That being said, there ARE exceptions to the categories, often ladies who had bad luck or focus only on their career or just aren’t genuinely trying to find their beshert (by their admission).

    1. Thin to average but much older than me (mid-30s and above) + another shidduch disadvantage like convert, recent BT, very left wing and outspoken about it, divorcée, disability, etc. And yes it upsets me to no end that these are considered “disadvantages.” Like what the heck people our system is broken, this frum hierarchy shtuss needs to go!! But anyway, often these girls got to that age single because either they are divorced, became BT or converted later in life, or focused so hard on building their careers they didn’t even date until their mid-30s.

    2. Thin to average but has a personality issue / red flag that is very very clear to those around her. For example, excessively bitter, mean, shallow, personality disorder written all over them, excessively clingy in a manipulative way, extremely cold, jealous, overly judgmental and snobby, etc, who refuse to work on themselves. I tend to avoid these women and do not try to set them up.

    And by far the largest (in terms of numbers), no pun intended, group:

    3. Bigger girls who have the entire package, who are intelligent, witty, successful, talented, beautiful, balabusta types who are financially stable, have their ish together, have great personalities, and are super fun to be around. These girls, in addition to the first group, I want to see married the most, because they would make such amazing wives and mothers. Also because I love them to death, because I find I can relate the most to them because they’re often around my age, have similar life experiences, are super interesting and fun and live life to the fullest (again, no pun intended), and are also relatively “normal” and not off-putting socially, and generally vibe well.

    I work the hardest at trying to set the third group up because they tend to be the highest quality, but end up with the most disappointment.

    They’re the hardest to set up, unfortunately, which is super ironic. My husband’s friends simply told me straight up, after the first or second date, she’s probably amazing but as hard as I try, I can’t bring myself to be attracted to “fat girls.” These men are great guys who feel awful and guilty about having this preference, but claim it’s biological.

    Men in my husband’s world (diverse group ranging anywhere from totally secular, traditional, liberal MODOX, YU types, dati leumi, chassidish, yeshivish, FFB, BT, you name it my husband has a friend like that), don’t tend to like rail thin women either – as my husband said once, the “2-12 rule.” (He was pretty shocked to find out I was a British size 14, hahaha! But I’m also nearly 6 feet so I’m an outlier). He said men typically don’t notice a woman’s weight if she’s between a size 2 and a 12 (unless she’s extremely short and a 0 or extremely tall like me and a 14/16). This is guy who scoffs at men who request a 2/4/6. He comes from a family of bigger women. He is the first to come at people, guns blazing, who go after anyone’s weight.

    But he’s just not attracted to big girls. Neither do any of his friends seem to be. It breaks my heart every time one of them goes out with one of my suggestions and says “she’s great but a lot bigger than her picture, I just couldn’t bring myself to be attracted to her, hard as I tried cause she’s wonderful.”

    It makes me want to tear my hair out. I lost the weight purely for health reasons. I had PCOS and hypothyroidism and at one point I was ALSO on corticosteroids AND antidepressants, which made it frustrating as all get out but I worked super hard on making a lifestyle change – diet and fitness, nothing too extreme, no fad diets, no starving myself, intuitive eating (reply to this comment for the small changes I made that made a huge difference- no gimmicks just common sense) – and my hypothyroidism and PCOS became subclinical and I stopped needing the steroids for the joint issues that were mostly weight related, partly due to a previous traumatic injury. I also no longer needed antidepressants because exercise made me happier and stronger and helped me love my body and gain confidence. It also caused me to crave less processed and unhealthy foods and have more energy for food prep and cooking everything from scratch.

    I didn’t lose the weight to find a husband or to look better. I lost the weight because my doctors said I was prediabetic, my triglycérides were climbing, and I was showing some signs of declining health due to my weight and sedentary workaholic lifestyle. I had so many obstacles but I was disciplined and lost 50 lbs in 7 months.

    Suddenly I started getting far more dates and then I met my husband.

    However, between the weight loss and meeting my husband I gained about 20lbs of the weight back from slacking off on diet and exercise, due to being super busy at a new and demanding job and juggling grad school. This is relevant because I was at the borderline between normal and overweight when I met him, possibly up to 10lbs overweight at most.

    I think it was my newfound confidence that did it, but had I been as obese as I was before, my husband probably wouldn’t have given me a second look. And my husband is the best most matim guy for me, so obviously my beshert it’s hilarious to both of us. He’s a wonderful man. Treats me like his queen. His family is amazing. He is a mensch. Unfortunately looks are what hook the guy, and weight is part of that overall package. it’s like getting into grad school. Once you get the minimum GPA to get an interview, the other stuff, the GPA is no longer part of the equation. But you just have to pass the threshold.

    Men are visual and looks are the hook. And as much as my husband wishes he were attracted to women of all sizes, it IS ussur to marry someone you aren’t attracted to, and based on my experience, nearly all men are only attracted to thin or average-sized women (I was by no means thin when I met my husband – my weight was still on the high end of the normal BMI range if not a bit overweight).

    SO, THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO STARVE YOURSELF AND BE MAMISH THIN, that’s also a fallacy. You don’t have to torture yourself to become thin, it’s so not worth it. There are men who are picky like that but they tend to be shallow jerks. I’m not talking the 2-12 guys I’m talking the 0-4 guys, most of those guys often want the rail thin girls for the status symbol aspect because it’s not biological or natural for men to be attracted to women who look starving either.

    Most men don’t even like the emaciated model types. They like some curves. My husband put it this way: it’s when you’re visibly “fat” – like over 30lbs+ overweight – that men notice, otherwise men won’t notice the difference between a 2 and a 12, figuratively speaking. The other stuff will be factored into the equation, weight will be disregarded.

    A year ago, before I even met my husband, I would have never written this. And it kills me to write this because I count many fuller women among some of my best and most cherished friends, and see their weight as having zero bearing on who they are as people. In fact, the fact that they focus more on what’s on the inside and building middot are part of what attracted me to them as friends in the first place.

    As for the bird’s eye view:

    Here is what I noticed over the years:

    After the majority of girls out of sem already got married, with a burst around 21-23 slowing to a trickle from 23-27, there were some girls “left over.” Myself included. Most of the girls who got married a bit on the later side focused on building a career and then once they got to a comfortable point they tried getting married and got nabbed up quickly unless they fell into one of the three categories. As men get more mature, they’re willing to become less picky and shallow as they start to realize what’s important. This might partly be to blame for why most women who marry young are thin, relative to those who marry later.

    My experience does show that many full-bodied women get married, but those who do tend to get married later, and sometimes, on their admission, end up settling. More often than not though they end up with really high quality guys, not in the looks or accomplishments department, but in the middot department, where it matters. These guys are able to peel back the surface and see the neshama within. Unfortunately this is such a rare group of guys, like one in 100,000, based on my experience. And often there are guys who aren’t weight blind who have just as exemplary middot but simply don’t want a woman who is in any of the “extremes” because they don’t like extremes in general.

    But there’s a huge silver lining – many big girls DO get married! So the reality is somewhere in between what the columnists say (that you have to lose weight to get married) and what you wrote (weight has zero bearing on whether you ultimately marry or not.

    The truth is, preferring thin women is different than not wanting a woman who is obese. Neither necessarily make a man a bad guy, and the latter is what seems to characterize most men, not the former contrary to popular belief in our community.

    So if you want to broaden the pool of guys and be more likely to find your beshert, losing weight is helpful, but that does NOT have to mean getting thin. It means getting within a healthy range. BMI isn’t everything, but just not appearing excessively heavy is really what will get women through the door. Men don’t need toothpicks, they just don’t want extremes.

    So, in summary:

    1) Most men want a woman who is neither noticeably underweight NOR noticeably obese. High-normal to overweight tends to not pose much of a problem except for a small set of guys who are particularly looks or status-oriented.

    2) Obese women (those outside of the range I previously described) DO get married. A lot. But they tend to get married later than the women within the range, have a harder time, sometimes have to settle, and get married in lower proportions (based on the growing proportion of obese women in the single pool the higher you go in age). That being said, many strike gold and marry a total mensch who is 100% weight blind, but that’s like winning the lottery (And they are more likely to do so than thin women). But it’s not something to bank on. My advice to a woman who’s weight is getting in the way of her shidduch prospects is to aim to lose at least enough weight so as not to be noticeably obese, so that more men can get a chance to get past that barrier/be able to ignore it and not be intimidated by it and get a chance to know the real you.

    3) if you want to lose weight, do so for your health not for a man. There are added benefits like a massive confidence boost, easier to love your body, and other weird unexpected stuff like less medication prescriptions.

    4) confidence is half the battle. And it has to be real not forced. Losing weight has helped me a ton with that. Not because I based my self worth on my looks, but because the endorphins that flow through you from exercise and your body’s response to eating healthy, you just feel better! And when you look in the mirror and you see how far you’ve come it’s the accomplishment that you did something super hard that just feels so good.

    5) I’m not saying this from an out of touch perspective. I was obese (over 200lbs) for quite a few years and suffered from a lot of the health conditions that make losing weight extremely hard for many women, myself included. So trust me, i get it. I really do.

    Sara Kupfer this isn’t really for you, since you seem to be an exception as you seem very into fitness and know your stuff. And I hope nobody is offended by this. That’s not the intention. The only goal of this is to help people make sense of the inundation of info we are getting about the men’s perspective, what’s true, what’s nonsense.

    The situation is not as bad as many think, but it’s also not ideal. Most men aren’t totally weight-blind, but only really notice when a woman is significantly out of the normal range.

    • Sara Kupfer says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience!

      I’m posting this comment because it’s clear that you’re well thought out and have put a lot of effort into considering the circumstances and helping set people up.

      With that said, I still personally maintain that intentional weight loss is gained back 95% of the time, where up to 2/3 of people gain back more than they lost. For personal reasons, for health reasons, for shidduch reasons… regardless of the reason, intentional weight loss is really a waste of time for most people and it is for that reason that I won’t promote it.

      Focus on health? Yes. Focus on eating well and exercising? Yes. Focus on building confidence? Yes.

      Focus on weight loss? NO.

      Additionally, I want to add that based on my experience – and those of everyone I’ve spoken to personally about this, the number of fat women who are older singles (30+) is far, far less than that of thin women. I don’t know. I didn’t do any research. It’s an anecdotal observation that a number of people have brought to me recently.

      As we discussed, it is possible that our experiences are very different because of location – you being in Israel, me being in America. I don’t know. Just a hypothesis.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts!

  3. Bravo, Sara!!! This is such a thoughtful and beautifully written response. Wishing you continued success in the spectacular work you do in empowering women of every size to live healthier lifestyles and honor their whole selves.

  4. Miriam Meyers says:

    “I’m 27 years old, I’m fat, and I’m single”….Seriously, if you are making a list, don’t stop there.
    How about adding:
    I’m a born leader
    I’m a caring friend
    I share my smiles freely
    I got style!…
    You are ready, so let’s daven for your beshert, who should be zocheh to marry you THIS COMING YEAR!

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