Fat Women Get Fewer Dates
Fat women get fewer dates.
They do not get fewer marriages.
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?
(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?
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.
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?
(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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.