Valentine’s Day Repost: On Dumb Luck

I originally posted this back in May. And since I still essentially find Valentine’s Day to be just as big a load of crap as I did when I was single (love you, Al, but love you every day, not just when Hallmark insists I must), I figured now would be a good time to repost it.

I’m having one of those days when I can’t even bear to look at my Google Alerts on “obesity” and “dieting,” because I know I’ll want to cry and throw things a lot more than I’ll want to write something cogent about them.

So here’s what I woke up thinking about. When I wrote about the key steps on my journey toward fat positivity, I left out something important. And I left it out because I don’t like admitting it any more than I liked admitting that starving myself was actually a key step. But this is the other thing that helped immeasurably: getting into a good relationship.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the people I see writing confidently and persuasively about body acceptance are married or in solid long-term relationships. There aren’t nearly as many single girls doing this, as far as I can tell. And that breaks my heart a little, because I suspect it’s no mere coincidence.

Simply put, it’s about a zillion times harder to deliberately tune out the constant “Fat is hideously unattractive” and “Who could love a fat person?” messages when you don’t have someone around to give you daily reminders that you’re attractive and lovable. On top of that, you have no idea when or where you’ll meet the person you’re looking for, absolutely no control over your single status — so if you’re not thrilled about it, you can’t even do anything to change it. I mean, sure, you can put up an online personal or hang out in bars or volunteer at an animal shelter in hopes of meeting someone. You can take up new hobbies, keep yourself busy and happy, refuse to appear — or become — desperate.

But you still can’t really fucking do anything about it. You cannot predict when and where the right person (or a right person) for you will show up, so you cannot do a damned thing to hurry that process along.

That’s where the people who want to sell you shit come in. ‘Cause, see, if you have shiny hair and white teeth and minty fresh breath and clear skin and, above all, a thin body, YOU WILL HAVE YOUR PICK OF TOTALLY APPROPRIATE LOVERS! As soon as you become suitably “attractive” — because of course attractiveness is a universal, objective quality — droves of people who are just right for you, and completely attracted to you (because duh, you’re attractive now), and single and baggage-free and witty and charming and loyal and brave and kind and able to do that thing just the way you like it, will appear out of nowhere!

We all know this is utter bullshit. What’s more, we all know the best relationships come along when we’re feeling confident, together — worthy of a good relationship. And although the people selling attractiveness lotions and potions and diet aids claim they are indeed selling us reasons to become more confident, we all know they would be very, very unhappy — not to mention poor — if the majority of us actually became confident in our appearances. Their livelihoods depend on the insecurity of single people, especially single women.

So my god, it is hard to develop that confidence when you’re single and not happy about it, and the whole world is telling you the way to fix that is to make yourself prettier — and, of course, that a crucial component of becoming prettier is becoming as thin as you can possibly be, by any means necessary.

It’s a fucking brutal catch-22. It’s almost impossible to attract someone who will treat you well if you don’t believe that’s what you deserve, and it’s almost impossible to believe that’s what you deserve when you’re constantly told you’re ugly and disgusting to all right-minded people and destined for an early death, to boot.

So… yeah. I don’t even know where I’m going with this. It’s not like there are startling revelations here. I guess I just want to give a shout out to the single fatties and acknowledge that yeah, I know it’s a kabillion times easier to say, “I’m attractive and lovable just the way I am” when I’ve got someone around reinforcing that message all the time. When I was single (for approximately 9,000 years), I doubted those things a hell of a lot more than I do now, and it was a hell of a lot harder to steer clear of the “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being fat — for everyone except me” trap.

Single folks, here’s what I know: you are exactly what someone is looking for, and that someone is exactly what you’re looking for. You just don’t have a damned bit of control over when or where you’ll stumble across each other. That sucks a hundred kinds of ass. But you don’t have to be prettier. You don’t have to be better. You don’t even have to be patient, if you don’t feel like it. You just have to be.

And for what it’s worth, I’m not a big believer in the “You’ll only find love when you’re not looking for it” school of thought. I was fucking looking when I found Al. I don’t think I spent a day of my life after hitting puberty not looking, really — but especially a year ago, I’d turned online dating into practically a part-time job. I was literally spending a couple hours a day writing to guys, a couple nights a week going on dates that ranged from pretty okay to horrid. Of course, that didn’t turn out to be how I found the right guy, but you’d better believe I was looking. It is okay to look. It is okay to want it. That does not actually send some desperate, self-defeating vibe out into the universe, guaranteeing that you will not find a decent date.

At the same time, Al really wasn’t looking at all. So basically, it only happens… whenever it happens. That’s all anybody fucking knows about it.

And in the meantime, you’re fine. There is no such thing as a universally attractive person (says the woman who thinks Brad Pitt is weaselly looking) — just millions of individuals whose millions of boats are floated by different things. There is no magic gate behind which dozens of people you could have fantastic relationships with are biding their time, just waiting for you to get thin enough for them to bust through it and come find you. The problem is not your fat. (Even if you could get thin, would you want to date someone who wouldn’t have wanted you fat?)

The problem is this: you can’t control it. That’s all. It really is. And it’s a big problem to have in this society; westerners in general and Americans in particular want to believe we can always manifest our dreams through our own efforts. We want to believe there is always a direct correlation between what we do and what good comes to us. We need to believe that. We cannot accept that luck and chance have a pretty damn huge effect on how our lives turn out.

But they do. When I met Al, I was already increasing in self-confidence, I was “putting myself out there,” I was consciously trying to improve myself in a hundred ways — but I was and am a long way from where I wanted to be, where I thought I needed to be. A long, long way from “perfect.” Hell, I’m still a long way from “not broken.” I met Al when I did for one reason only: he came to Chicago that weekend, and Paula introduced us. That’s the whole magical, mystical story right there. And despite all my unfinished self-improvement campaigns, it turned out that when the right guy came along, I was perfectly fucking fine just the way I was.

And you are perfectly fucking fine just the way you are, even if you’re a fat girl wearing unflattering sweatpants and no make-up, with your hair in a ponytail and your glasses on and all your beauty products sitting lonely in the bathroom, as I am right this minute. (Um, I mean I currently have all those characteristics going on, not that I’m currently sitting lonely in the bathroom. I don’t usually blog from there.)

The problem is not you.

Man, do I ever wish I knew how to say that so it would actually sound true.

137 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day Repost: On Dumb Luck

  1. … This is a great post…

    But mainly I wanted to say I’ve always called Brad Pitt “Hamster Boy”.

    I find him less hamster-y now that he’s older. Still not someone who’d … melt my ice cream.

  2. I don’t wish to turn this into a Brad Pitt hatefest, but here I thought I was the only one who doesn’t see what the big deal is.

    And as usual, you’re right – things happen when they happen, not when it’s most convenient, and not often in the way you expect them to. And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it. Live well and be happy anyway.

  3. I am an idiot. I still care about Valentine’s Day. Sorry, but I don’t get so many chances to eat lobster that I am actually capable of passing up a chance to eat lobster just for the sake of being cool. Especially when it’s difficult to get my partner to leave the house otherwise for a dinner date between November and March. Maybe someday I’ll be that cool. Can’t promise, though.

    At least I don’t throw a fit over not getting jewelry or other expensive toys, I guess that’s something. And the very idea, a la jewelry ads, of him having to do so in order to get me in bed is, well, hilarious in such a deeply sad way that it actually makes me feel sorry for the “normal” people such ads are aimed at.

    And for those who are single and looking and feel crappy about it on this Very Special Day, lemme just tell you that some of the worst VDs I ever had were when I was involved with someone (including while I was married). I mean, the expectation pitfalls of the holiday, yuuuuck. You’d be better off going to a blues bar and getting drunk with your girlfriends than that.

  4. i couldn’t agree more about the reinforcement thing. i was overweight when we met and i actually got fatter (a lot fatter) after i met my man. and i was SO SURE i was going to lose him b/c i got FAT OMG!!11! but, it turns out he loves me for more than just my physical appearance. and i feel the same way about him. go figure. we just found each other at the right time and the right place and we are right for each other. he has done wonders for my self esteem. he thinks i’m beautiful w/o any makeup in my socks and glasses and my hair up in a bun. last week i threw my back out, got a cold, and had massive pms. he still told me i was dead sexy. and not just b/c he was afraid i’d go all pms-homicidal either!

    (also, i always thought brad pitt looked kinda like he was part man, part pug… NOT my thing)

  5. Since I am just hitting this same revelation, I have to say this is a fucking beautiful piece of writing. If only I had the chance to read something like it back when I thought skinny = love.

    Thanks for this post.

  6. “And you are perfectly fucking fine just the way you are, even if you’re a fat girl wearing unflattering sweatpants and no make-up, with your hair in a ponytail and your glasses on and all your beauty products sitting lonely in the bathroom, as I am right this minute.”

    Wow, you just utterly summed me up!

    I have to fight the mindset that thin = good every single day, it seems. I never give myself credit for my accomplishments. If a guy finds me attractive, I just assume he’s desperate. I automatically figure nobody (especially a man!) is going to like me, so I don’t even try.

    And it’s a sad mindset, I tell ya. It keeps you from living – which everybody has the right to do. I’ve cut out half of the mindset so far, and I’m working on the other half.

  7. This’ll be my first Valentine’s alone in 6 years. And this is exactly what I needed to hear today.

    But I do love me some Brad Pitt. 1998ish Fight Club Brad Pitt.

  8. I love the sentiment behind this post, Kate.

    This is the second time in a week or so that I’ve been reminded of the Pearl Bailey quote: “You cannot belong to anyone else, until you first belong to yourself.”

    She also said: “No one can figure out your worth but you.”

    All the more reason, in my mind, for a girl to do something great for herself whether she’s in a relationship or not. Cocktails with single friends, a year’s membership to the art museum, a love-letter to herself… So many ways to say I love you to the person who is TRULY most important in one’s life.

    I like Valentine’s day because I think it’s okay to have rituals and celebrations. I used to suppress my appreciation for these things but for the last year or two, I’ve been allowing myself to just be okay with normal human things. This would include things like eating three meals a day, sleeping, and even commercial greeting cards.

    This is a great day to decide to love yourself no matter what.

  9. I so needed this. As a 19 year-old whose never had a boyfriend or even kissed someone (not for lack of wanting to kiss someone, just for lack of having anyone I wanted to kiss. If that makes sense. I like to blame my repressed Mormon upbringing for this. I was told only to date Mormons and I found Mormons to be pretty boring and I only admitted I didn’t actually want to be Mormon like six months ago, and haven’t been in a situation to meet someone since.)

    Anyway, for the most part, ever since middle school even, I’m a pretty confident person. I never felt I had to change my looks for anyone. Never felt the need to wear make-up to impress anybody. I dress how I like (which isn’t very feminine…but I need pockets. I would lose a purse in about 10 mintues. And the people who make most women’s pants don’t understand pockets AT ALL). I follow my own path. It’s the one comment I get the most from people who know me. They always say, “You’re so confident”, “You know who you are”, “When I’m with you I know it’s you I’m getting”.

    And I’m proud of that.

    So I don’t know why, when I went to my sister’s high school Jazz Night last night, I suddenly felt so unattractive. But there were all these high schoolers chatting and having fun, and I was sitting there attending a high school event with my parents and thinking What is wrong with me??????

    It was the most unattractive and insecure I’ve felt since I was nine years old and I had to get glasses and I thought the glasses were going to be the end of my life. I almost started crying at the table (though, thank Haruhi Suzumiya, no one noticed). I think it was something about me being there with my parents. And something about everyone knowing more people than I did. Or maybe I just felt old (comparatively, to my sister’s peers) and was wondering WTF I was doing with my life. But I just felt ugly.

    I got myself out of it, convinced myself I’m awesome, and went and grabbed some cheesecake (which was delicious, by the by). But it was a disconcerting moment and I was more than happy to leave.

    And I kind of needed this to remind me that that shit I was feeling isn’t ME. I’m talented and totally hot. I have rockin’ hips (I lurve my hips) kickin’ eyebrows (they’re thick and kind of caterpillary, but they’ve been one of my favourite parts of me for as long as I can remember) and I’m also just a bit intelligent and capable and free-thinking and awesome. I AM AWESOME.

    As a P.S., I know this makes me a consumerist traitor, but even with never having a boyfriend, I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. No idea why. Just do.

    Pink and red don’t go together, though. And someone needs to tell someone that.

  10. Oh god, this killed me when you first published it. And I don’t even think I can stand to think about it tonight. It’s just too brutally true.

  11. I love this post. It is just what I needed to read right now. And to second Sarah J. up there, this pretty much sums me up exactly right now, if you replace sweatpants with pajama pants:

    “And you are perfectly fucking fine just the way you are, even if you’re a fat girl wearing unflattering sweatpants and no make-up, with your hair in a ponytail and your glasses on and all your beauty products sitting lonely in the bathroom, as I am right this minute.”

    Being a single fat girl is hard, and I’ve been lurking in the fatosphere since a friend steered me in its direction since November, but this post was exactly what I needed to hear the day before Valentine’s Day, and I needed to thank you for that.

  12. I’m single. Though I’ve had plenty of dates and one relationship since then, due to the luck of the calendar, this is my third v-day in a row single.

    I bought sexy lingerie anyway because I’m going to enjoy going to work tomorrow knowing I’m wearing it under my demure turtleneck sweater and corduroys. I’m my own fucking valentine. Some day there may be someone else to see it, but today it’s really okay that it’s just for me.

  13. I couldn’t finish reading it without saying that I’m 33, single, and never been in a romantic relationship.

    I was engaged to my best friend of 4.5 years for one whole week, just because he didn’t want me to go on the one date I’ve ever been asked out on in my life (I was 27!) I called off the engagement because I couldn’t go from “just friends” to “engaged” without some kind of transition and the friendship disintegrated to the point that he hurt me more than I’ve ever been hurt in my life.

    Hell of a thing to have a nasty breakup story without even the benefit of having had a relationship first.

    Confidence comes from figuring out your value as a human being. Some people get help from lovers, some from friends, some from family, and some of us have to find it within ourselves on our own through sheer force of will. However we figure it out, it’s the most important thing we’ll ever do in this life because every choice we make stems from that.

    So, now that I’ve bragged myself up, I’ll actually read the whole thing ;)

  14. So… yeah. I don’t even know where I’m going with this. It’s not like there are startling revelations here. I guess I just want to give a shout out to the single fatties and acknowledge that yeah, I know it’s a kabillion times easier to say, “I’m attractive and lovable just the way I am” when I’ve got someone around reinforcing that message all the time. When I was single (for approximately 9,000 years), I doubted those things a hell of a lot more than I do now, and it was a hell of a lot harder to steer clear of the “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being fat — for everyone except me” trap.

    Thank you Kate for sharing this. I missed it the first time around and it is something that I REALLY need to hear right now as a single fat woman. There are some days that are so tough to keep my confidence and my hope up.

    I’m sitting here wiping tears off my face because this is such a tough issue for me. I really miss being in a relationship and I sometimes feel like it’s never going to happen again and it’s so hard not to buy into the idea that if only I would lose weight I would find someone, I would have better odds, more choice of men, etc.

    AND, thanks for saying you were looking. I’ve tried actively looking and not trying not to look and just relax about it but neither one seems to have worked so far. My coupled friends saying “It’ll happen when you stop looking” sometimes makes me want to slap them silly.

  15. A-fucking-men!
    (Ok, read the whole thing now and had to say it :D)

    I have spent a decade processing all of that stuff and finally, just a year or two ago, reached the very same conclusion: it happens when it happens and not a minute sooner no matter what I think I can do about it.

    I looked. I feigned confidence well enough to get all kinds of positive attention (while I was fat!) I didn’t settle for guys who sent up my red flags and kept working on my issues and my confidence. Now, I’ve got the confidence and I’m not looking.

    I stopped looking a year and a half ago and nobody has found me yet. The way I see it, I’m not ready to be found. I’ve found myself in this place where I have more important things I need to do first, like healing some of the damaged parts of my family in the ways that only I can.

    I never asked for this opportunity. I wanted something else for my life, but since I am here and do have the opportunity I am taking it and finding healing for bits of me that I didn’t even realize were in need of it.

  16. The great irony of my life was that I looked – sometimes almost desperately – for true love, only to find in the end that I’d already known Mr. Right for more than five years. I wasn’t ready to notice him before that in a romantic light.

    Funnily enough, he told me when we started dating at long last that he developed a small crush on me the day we met because any woman who knew that many Monty Python quotes off the top of her head was someone he needed to know.

    You’re so right, Kate: love happens when it damn well happens. You can’t force it, though you can certainly look. And I love the way some of you single women are taking the opportunity to celebrate yourselves. Each and every one of you is well worth the celebrating.

    Oh, and I never saw the attraction in Brad Pitt, either. (shrugs) Just not my cuppa for whatever reason. Angelina, you’re welcome to him. Enjoy!

    Love yourselves, Shapelings. It’s the love you can absolutely count on, no matter what anyone else does or doesn’t see in you.

  17. It occurs to me that the old adage that you can’t be loved until you love yourself is not only cruel but also totally untrue. I only started approaching loving myself a year or so ago, but someone (someone just right) has loved me for 5 years now. I know how deep body hatred runs through our society, and if you couldn’t be loved until you love yourself then relationships would be as scarce as hens teeth.

    lucy x

  18. I missed this the first time you posted it (probably some sort of gentle karmic guide away …)

    Man, do I ever wish I knew how to say that so it would actually sound true.

    So for those of us hanging in with the snark and the strong that are single, what do we win?

    (Those of us that can’t have baby doughnuts, I mean – I’m on a project deadline and can’t ride out the carb/seratonin hangover.)

  19. I’m single and am living in Cambodia where there are five types of men

    - Cambodian
    - Married/girlfriend
    - Gay
    - Sexpat
    - and the two or three single guys in the entire city

    This fat girl ain’t got a chance but I do love reading your posts Kate.

  20. “And the people who make most women’s pants don’t understand pockets AT ALL.”

    I so agree with you, Time-Machine. And – even though I’m sure that you don’t need reassurance from the likes of me – I wanna say that judging by what you’ve written, you sound like someone I’d want to be my BFF. You rock.

  21. I’m usually the type that lurks and never posts (I’m also new to FA), but I couldn’t resist the urge to respond to this.

    I’m dealing with a break up right now, so I find it incredibly comforting to read your post, Kate. I kind of had an epiphany the other day about my life. I’ve realized that I always make myself unhappy by constantly waiting for rejection. Even when I truly am happy and in love with someone I can’t help but dread the day that they realize I’m fat and leave me.

    It hurts a lot to go from being engaged and happy to alone on Valentines Day (not that it really matters, it’s a silly holiday to begin with), but guess what? The break up had nothing to do with me being fat. He loved me and found me attractive, just as other men in my life have. I only make myself miserable by constantly worrying about my weight, and I know that it has had negative effects on my relationships also.

    So basically what I’m saying is, being thin will not magically bring limitless amounts of love interests into your life – and being fat doesn’t instantly limit you to being alone forever. Fat or thin, things are always going to work out either. I logically know these things, but I’m still working on really believing it. As a general rule I like myself, but I clearly still have my issues.

  22. I only read this post first time round a few weeks ago and felt compelled to post my experiences in it then… just wanted to add something again because it resonates so strongly.

    I actually met my now husband 8 years ago, a few times. I was shyly interested and said nothing, and wasn’t in a mental place to do anything about it. He was 24, I was 27, we met through friends a few times. I was pretty sure he wasn’t interested; now I know he wasn’t interested in anyone at that stage of his life.

    A year ago (yesterday!) I met him again. In the intervening years we had both accomplished numerous things, both grown up a lot. I was a heck of a lot stronger and had ‘grown’ my self-esteem a zillion times since the last time I met him.

    When we met again, I was just shy of my 34th birthday, and had never been in a serious romantic relationship; a few dates here and there, one non-starter relationship and one dalliance that did wonders for my self-esteem. I’d only kissed 2 guys, and that was after I reached the age of 32.

    I had begun to think all those things you think when it never happens. Having discovered that I really and truly was a pretty cool gal and any guy would be lucky to have me (having spent years of course thinking the absolute opposite), I was simply scared I’d never find anyone to connect with – because it seemed no matter how many men I met there was no connection.

    Then I met my husband. We met again at a meal arranged by the same mutual friend we’d met through eight years earlier. He walked me home. I lent him a book. We started emailing the next day. We saw each other again 3 days later. 13 days after we first met we were officially dating. We were engaged within three months, and married within six. So I’ve been married for six months now, and have discovered that yes, a good relationship really is everything it is cracked up to be.

    So, one point – it *can* happen. If any of you believe it wont’ ever happen for you – I was absolutely and totally convinced that I would be single forever. And I was wrong. The ‘when’ is definitely just so much dumb luck. I can look at all the experiences I had that came before meeting my husband and see how they made that one crucial relationship easier, but that doesn’t mean I wouldnt’ have been able to have the relationship earlier!

    And second point – my husband wasn’t ready himself for a relationship until THREE DAYS before he met me! Literally; he decided 3 days beforehand that it was time to start dating seriously. He was set up on a blind date the afternoon of the day we met, which went disastrously. Then he met me that evening. So, we met 3 days after he was ‘ready’ and about 3 or 13 years after I was. Lucky him! But sometimes thems the breaks – it could be that you women who are still ‘waiting’, whether you are actively searching or not, might be waiting for whoever ‘he’ is to be as ready for you as you are for him…

    I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, and since I was a teenager have not really cared about it. Where I live it’s not a big deal, so it wasn’t pushed in my face when I was single (although plenty of other stuff was!) But for all of you for whom it is important and single – yes, celebrate yourselves!!

  23. New fan here. I’m so happy you posted this. I needed to read it this morning after a bout of horrible insomnia and mental stress. It’s not all due to this day, but a lot of it is.

    I’m right in the midst of menopause (turning 50 later this year) and though most times I don’t look/feel my age (youthful looks run in the family), I’m feeling it a lot these past few weeks.

    Oddly, I’ve always been a fat woman and have had several somewhat successful relationships over the years. (And by fat, I don’t mean slightly, I’m in the 300+ group).

    I’ve chosen to be single these past 10 years and am quite content most of the time, but recently, it’s been difficult to deal with. I totally know it’s the hormones, but knowing this intellectually still doesn’t change the insane emotional roller coaster.

    So, thank you for posting this and giving me a little mental boost this morning! When I start feeling down again later in the day, as the women at work begin receiving their bouquets and candy gifts, I’ll come back and re-read, and remind myself that I’m one kick ass female.

  24. thank you so much for this. like most of your writing, this struck me on a pretty deep level and brought up lots of things i need to really address

  25. I’m spending this Valentine’s Day being grateful that I’m single. I don’t need a man in my house any more than I need a big, vicious dog. I’m too poor to support a man; I’m barely making enough money to support myself. I have a busy social calendar, so much so that I have to schedule days off from it. I don’t have time to play the good girl and maintain a male ego. Last week I got the flu, which drove home the virtue of being single more than anything else. I barely had enough energy to take care of myself, keep going to work, and meet a few social obligations. If I’d also been taking care of a man, I’d have been sunk.

    Forget the men. They aren’t important. I am a beautiful, brilliant person. I’m busy living my own life.

  26. I’m 36, never been in a relationship, and a delightful virgin to boot! Valentine’s Day is MY FAVORITE…

    …in that “I’d rather get a tooth drilled without Novocaine while getting a pelvic exam” kind of way.

    I did appreciate this post the first time around and I still appreciate it today, even if I’m becoming more and more convinced that I’m not a someone anyone is looking for. Which is fine. I’ve got enough going on to distract me on a daily basis for the next however many years.

  27. I’ve been happily partnered for five Valentines’ now (and unhappily for two before that–good grief that guy was an ass), but for the most part the guy and I don’t celebrate on that day.

    Instead I’ve always tried to make it about showing love to people who who don’t say it to the other 364 days a year by having lunch (to avoid the OMG ROMANTIC dinner craziness) with my girlfriends or something along those lines.

    This year, one of my newest friends (who just finalized her second divorce, in her early 30s–yikes) and I are going to Valentine’s yoga at our local studio. Valentine’s yoga is such a brilliant idea I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before, so I’m just putting the word out there in case any of you are similarly struck by its brilliance.

  28. This is my first ever valentines day with someone, and I actually dont want to celebrate it. I fee absolutely no need – I love him and he loves me, but yes, its every day. If couples need a special day once a year to show each other how much they love each other, it should be an anniversary of somekind, in their own time in the pace of their own relationship.

    I think our culture tells us we are worthless of we dont get generally thought of as ‘sexy’. a horrible and destructive message when the definition of ‘sexy’ is now so narrow only a small porportion people can fit it. All our self-worth is suddenly tied up in being attractive and acceptable to others, and we’re being told to find very few people acceptable and attractive.

  29. I managed to have a boyfriend for a total of two and a half months. I learned a few things rather quickly though.

    One of the most important was the fact that this person had obviously liked me at some point, and enough to date me for two months. I don’t like that I had to go through that to be okay with who I am, to be able to believe it possible. I guess before that though I was in a fantasy of dating. ‘well other people find someone to be in a relationship with, but it will never happen to me.’ It did. It sucked. and oh well. I can try again at some point and in the mean time I can go about my life and enjoy things.

    before all that, and any body acceptance, I was always kind of worried that if I lost weight (which conveniently wasn’t happening) and I did meet someone that they wouldn’t like me for me. Or that they wouldn’t have liked me before I lost the weight. I don’t really want someone like that anyhow.

    I do like to celebrate valentines day. Mostly so I can give people things and usually its things that I’ve made. But I also give things the rest of the year as well. So I suppose really, its just an excuse to use heart shapes and be really cheesy :)

  30. I guess I’m another exception, because I’m definitely single. I’ve only started looking again, and then only really half-heartedly. The missing step that kept me from looking was FA. I knew that until my head was in the right place, I was in no position to add another person’s issues into the equation. Now that I’ve wrapped my head around a lot of FA concepts, I think I’m comfortable enough with myself to date. The irony of it is that I’m comfortable enough with myself to start dating just about the same time as I’m comfortable enough with myself that I really don’t need a partner. Go figure :-)

  31. Love finds us in the weirdest ways. I just read this and loved it (having missed it the first time) and wanted to post my own “Finding love” story from the inspiration.

    It all started with AP Chemistry (that’s where I attribute its beginning…follow for a minute; it makes sense soon!). I HATED that class. But because of the labs we ended up having a split gym class; in which I met and befriended a girl who LARPED. She got me into this (Live Action Role Play for any who don’t know…what could possibly be better than spending a weekend dressed as a beautiful elven bar-maid and beating the snot out of “orcs” with foam weapons? ;)).

    At my first event I met who I thought was the love of my life. We got married. But we were not meant to be together romantically. It was like marrying your best friend…or no more like your brother; who you loved and had great times with but with whom a romantic thing just wasn’t really right. We split amicably after less than a year married.

    HIS friend (Adam), with whom I had always enjoyed spending time with watching anime, and talking about everything under the sun, and I started to hang out more and more often.

    Two Valentine’s ago Adam proposed. We have been married since that December. Every single day he makes me feel amazing. Loved. Beautiful. That isn’t to say I don’t still have days (weeks) when that mindset of needed to change, become better, get perfect, in order to be the true “ME” takes over. It is a hard thought-process to totally leave behind in the dust. But I’m trying.

    Life is a crazy, mixed up, meandering path of experiences; all tied together in ways that might never make total sense to us. But things happen… (for a reason I always believe). It doesn’t matter if you’ve reached that “goal weight” or learned that next language or even if you’ve started that new Yoga class you’ve been meaning to get to; life keeps happening and so does love.

    And looking or not, actively hunting or passively waiting, life keeps on going and love keeps on finding people. All the time. All over the world. Every day and in all sorts of fun and interesting ways!

    Oh and a great movie to watch if you’re into quirky fun movies about finding love in the oddest of ways, someone who loves ALL your bits and pieces and the mental processes behind them; try watching AMELIE. (French flick but its over here now subtitled and I think dubbed too).

    Think I might have gotten a little off track on that… O.o

  32. Meower- I like Valentine’s Day, too. I will take any excuse to go eat sushi :)

    When I was in high school, and for a few years after that, I was DESPERATE for a great boyfriend. I take that back. I was desperate for Hollywood love, someone to just make my life better. I had dates, but I was pretty far down on the self-esteem scale and basically just slept with a lot of people. I am really thankful that I came out of that period of my life with no serious (health-wise) damage.

    And I totally met my bf when I wasn’t looking (that night, at least). We had both gone to the same bar alone watch the 7th game of the 2003 National League Championships. So don’t let anyone tell you you can’t meet a good guy at a bar :)

    Oh, and my Hollywood love crush is Philip Seymour Hoffman.

  33. Two experiences:

    When I was 30 and everyday gym slim, I was engaged to a guy who perpetually expressed that I should lose 10 pounds. For my “health”. I was a perfect, athletic size 8. I left him without a single tear shed 6 weeks before our wedding for a host of reasons.

    When I was 32, I married a guy who thinks I am great. Period. I weigh 35 ponds more than when I met him, my hair is slightly graying, and my pits are kinda hairy today (overshare, I know). But all he sees is wonderful me. Ah, true love.

    Finding Kate and FA has totally changed my perception of my body and of fat in general. I am what and who I am. I am athletic, I am strong, I am healthy. And I do it in a weightier body than I had before. Big. Fucking. Deal.

    My father once told me when I was single that if I could just lose a little weight I would be gorgeous and have tons of suitors. I replied that I didn’t want someone to love when I lost weight, I wanted someone to love me the way I was. I’m glad I didn’t buy into that then. I was reading ‘If the Buddha Dated” at the time and was very grounded in being true to myself and weeding out the static of voices in my life.

    Stay strong people, love exists, even for fat people. Self love is actually the best love of all.

  34. The last time I deliberately starved myself ended the day I met my husband. He has been so instrumental in my recovery without even realizing it.

    My husband and I met online and I almost wouldn’t meet him in person because I thought I was so fat he would be disgusted by me. He pestered me for three weeks before I finally snapped to him something like “I had an eating disorder and I’ve regained weight so if you’re looking for Barbie, keep looking.” He replied back, “I don’t care what you look like.” We’ve been together since.

    The ironic thing is, I met him when I was fat. I always thought guys went for thin girls, but even when I was thin, I never had a barrage of guys knocking at my door. After I met Brandon and it had gotten serious, I told my psychiatrist how amazed I was that he was still around, because in my experiences, guys tended to prefer the Barbie doll girls. She told me, “Guys may like to date those kinds of girls, but they’re not the type they marry.”

  35. I guess I’m another exception, because I’m definitely single. I’ve only started looking again, and then only really half-heartedly.

    JoGeek, I don’t think you were blogging when I first wrote this, and if you were, I didn’t know about you yet. A TON of fat blogs have cropped up and/or come to my attention since I wrote this — which is awesome awesome awesome.

    And littlem, you can have a baby donut and save it for later. :) In case it wasn’t clear, what I meant in that last line was, “I wish I could say it in a way that sounds true to people who are sitting around hating themselves.” Of course it sounds true to those of us who aren’t, whether we’re single or partnered.

  36. She told me, “Guys may like to date those kinds of girls, but they’re not the type they marry.”

    Ehh, I don’t know. One of my dearest friends is a virtual Barbie clone, and she’s younger than me and has been married for 2 years — to a guy who loves her because she’s smart, hilarious, kind, curious and awesome, not just because she’s hot. So I’m wary of suggesting that A) having conventionally gorgeous genes automatically makes you a less interesting person, or B) there are some kinds of girls men date and some they marry. Men both date and marry all kinds, period.

    I mean, I get why a statement like that is comforting. I read a humor piece by Gina Barreca a few years back in which she said that men marry thin, demure, “sweet,” non-threatening women — then have affairs with fat, funny, smart women who actually interest them. I thought that was the most brilliant insight in the world, seeing as how I was at the time crazy about a guy married to a thin woman. But it’s ultimately bullshit just as much as any sweeping statement about what men like and don’t like is.

    One of the most important things I eventually realized is that I was indeed looking for a needle in a haystack — but it wasn’t because I’m fat. It was mostly because I’m smart — and with that comes an inability to shut up, behave like a lady, worry about making my man look good (he can and should do that himself), or focus on being “sweet” and socially acceptable to the exclusion of pursuing my own interests and goals. Add fat to all that, and I’m, like, the polar opposite of what men in this culture are trained to see as attractive: a loud, funny, smart, independent, strong-willed, hotheaded, stubborn, ambitious (which is different from competitive), emotionally expressive, feminist fat chick. THE HORROR!!!

    It reduces the dating pool, for sure. But the thing is, I love all those things about myself, so why the fuck would I want the dating pool to include men who wouldn’t love all that about me? Quantity and quality are two very different things. And lo and behold, the number one thing that attracted Al to me was that he realized very quickly I was fucking smart (and he was smart enough to know all the rest of that shit comes with the territory).

    In the past, I’d dated a guy who constantly tried to tell me I wasn’t smart, so he could feel better about himself (to the extent of claiming plain FACTS weren’t true if I said they were — and I’m talking sky-is-blue facts, not anything controversial). And a guy who knew I was smart but was old enough that he could play mentor and treat my intelligence as something sorta cute about me, not a force to be reckoned with. And a guy who kept acting surprised when I did or said something he thought was really clever, years after we first met, because he somehow couldn’t fully process that yes, I was just as smart as he was. Al was the first one who ever said, right off the bat, “I never thought I’d meet a girl as smart as you, and it is AWESOME.” And whaddaya know, he’s the one. And my fat ass had nothing to do with it; he loves it, but he’d also love my ass thinner or fatter, ’cause it’s just me.

    Smart threatens a lot of men. Funny threatens a lot of men. Fat threatens a lot of men. But the key words there are “a lot” — it’s not ALL men. It never is. And I could go on a 90-page rant about how the oppressive beauty standards in this culture are enforced in part by the myth that ALL heterosexual men are looking for the same kind of woman, so all heterosexual women have to be that kind or die alone. FUCK THAT.

    My best advice to those who are single and looking: be the kind of person you want to date. Like attracts like. Eventually.

    Wicked Child, that goes for you, too. If you don’t want to date men, that’s totally fine. But dating a man does not automatically equal supporting and mothering a man. I’m sorry that’s been your experience, but it’s beyond unfair to suggest that that’s just the natural consequence of being with a man.

  37. Yay, I was hoping you’d repost this one today!

    I bought sexy lingerie anyway because I’m going to enjoy going to work tomorrow knowing I’m wearing it under my demure turtleneck sweater and corduroys. I’m my own fucking valentine

    This is like the best thing I’ve ever heard.

    Anyway, I like Valentine’s day. We don’t exchange xmas gifts, but I get a kick out of February because I get to make Dan something for his birthday and then give him chocolates for V-day. My dad has gotten me chocolates — different ones every year, which is a tradition I’m following — pretty much since I could eat solid foods, so I guess I have a conception of V-day as “a time to buy people you love chocolates” instead of “the one day a year when you should act lovingly towards your partner.” And honestly, I don’t buy the “well I love them all the time” thing, not for me. Turns out, I can love him every day AND on Valentine’s day, just like I can love him every day AND on his birthday but I don’t make him awesome needle-felted creatures every day.

    Anyway, what I really wanted to say though was that one of the things that made both a relationship and fat acceptance possible for me was relaxing my hold on what I thought I should want, need, and value. Dan is absolutely nothing like what I thought I wanted, and I know because I wrote down what I thought I wanted in scrupulous detail and pored over it. Well, he is a scientist and has long hair and glasses, but I thought I liked skinny guys with painfully acerbic wits and voluminous pop culture knowledge, who thought they were too smart for me. I never dreamed I’d end up with someone who was actually NICE to me (and who has never seen ANY movies or TV I like!). It’s not unlike giving up on the Fantasy of Being Thin… it’s about recalibrating your ideals to match up with what’s good for the real you, not what you think you ought to pursue.

  38. Thanks for posting this – it took me years of unhappy relationships, clinging to people who weren’t right because it was better than being alone, to figure this out, and I hope this will help others come to this realization sooner in their lives than I did. You’re fine just the way you are – you don’t have to fit the media paradigm of what’s supposably “perfect”.

    Meowser, I’m with you – I like Valentine’s day. It’s an excuse to go out to eat at a nice place (which I rarely do otherwise) and get some chocolate. I don’t like jewelry or flashy gifts – and despise all those jewelry ads insinuating that all women are just jewelry-whores. But I love the little shows of affection, signs that he was thinking about and caring for me. My guy’s not the most terribly emotive most of the time, but on Valentine’s day he’ll usually surprise me with something.

  39. I always disliked Valentine’s day growing up, and not particularly because I was usually single — I’m not big on holidays, in general, because of how they become one more way to compete against people and prove that you’re a good person by blowing enough money / buying the biggest roses / planning the most extravagant vacation. I just can’t see them with a non-jaundiced eye. (Except Thanksgiving! which is like, you’re happy to be alive so you eat good food. That, I can get behind.)

    But then John and I met on Valentine’s Day (by accident!) and now I have to like it. :-)

    This was and is a great post, Kate, and I must say it’s only improved by the link to that awesome lolcat.

  40. Men both date and marry all kinds, period.

    I think she she meant, and what I didn’t accurately relate, is that men may like to date girls based primarily on superficial qualities, but when they marry, they look for the complete package, that may include looks, but also includes personality, intelligence, wit and humour, etc…

    Not all men do, of course, but I would hope that most men consider more than a woman’s cup size when deciding whom to marry.

  41. And honestly, I don’t buy the “well I love them all the time” thing, not for me. Turns out, I can love him every day AND on Valentine’s day, just like I can love him every day AND on his birthday but I don’t make him awesome needle-felted creatures every day.

    I hear that. My objection to Valentine’s Day largely stems from the way it’s shoved down everyone’s throat, including the throats of single people who are made to feel like freaks for the first two weeks of February every year. I may have a great partner now, but I still remember how excruciating Feb. was every year I didn’t, and I’m not over it.

    I’m also lucky enough to be dating someone who doesn’t need an excuse to go out for a nice meal or buy me a present. (When we first started dating, he once suggested going to a restaurant I would never have considered going to on a normal day before. Me: “I think of that as, you know, an occasion restaurant.” Him: “Tuesday can’t be an occasion?”) If this was one of my few annual shots at a nice dinner, I might feel differently about it. As it is, I see it as a night when all the nice restaurants are damn crowded, and single people are told even more than usual that there’s something wrong with them, and all heterosexual couples are expected to participate in a sex for tacky jewelry transaction, because all women get wet at the sight of sparkly things and men don’t know their partners well enough to think of anything else to get/make them.

    So, yeah, I remain bitter about a whole lot of things associated with Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing wrong with taking it as a day to celebrate each other and have fun together — Al and I will be doing that in some capacity tonight. But there’s still a WHOLE lot to hate about all the sexist, heteronormative, couple-centric bullshit floating around this time of year.

  42. I have two bags of green M&Ms and a pagan, singles-friendly party to attend this evening. Take THAT commercially contrived holiday!
    :lol:

    It was mostly because I’m smart — and with that comes an inability to shut up, behave like a lady, worry about making my man look good (he can and should do that himself), or focus on being “sweet” and socially acceptable to the exclusion of pursuing my own interests and goals. Add fat to all that, and I’m, like, the polar opposite of what men in this culture are trained to see as attractive: a loud, funny, smart, independent, strong-willed, hotheaded, stubborn, ambitious (which is different from competitive), emotionally expressive, feminist fat chick. THE HORROR!!!

    Apparently I really am that Kate Harding chunky chick. hee!

  43. I hate Valentine’s Day. I always have, single or in a relationship. I was relieved when I met the current Mr. Coyote and I could say, “I really hate Valentine’s Day so please do not feel compelled” and he said, “Good, I hate made-up Hallmark Holidays.” I am lucky that neither of us needs someone to tell us that this day is the day to buy the other a special present to tell them that they are loved.

    I hear a lot of echoes on this page. When I was nowhere near fat, the man who became my husband (for reasons that would take up too much room, but mostly because my family hammered into my head SINGLE BAD! SINGLE BAD! SINGLE BAD!) decided that we needed to join a gym. He would literally take food away from me, in front of other people. Needless to say, this was not a good relationship (for a lot of reasons) and it didn’t last long.

    I didn’t find the love of my life until I was 39. I met a lot of guys I liked and ALMOST got into a relationship with, but most of them just didn’t have the balls to step up and take the chance. I met Mr. Coyote not long after I told a former ex to fuck off. I was more relieved than anything at that point, and so when Mr. Coyote turned up, I wasn’t looking for anything, and got more than I ever dreamed of. I’m not sure that i was loving myself very much at that moment (although I was fighting hard to try), but I had markedly decided that Mr. Asshat was done and over.

    echo the awesomeness of the post.

  44. My objection to Valentine’s Day largely stems from the way it’s shoved down everyone’s throat, including the throats of single people who are made to feel like freaks for the first two weeks of February every year.

    Word up to that, although for obvious reasons I’m spending most of that energy on fucking hating the wedding industry, which I think is way worse AND won’t shut up for like the entire month of June. Feh. But god, I did see that hypnotic tacky jewelry commercial yesterday and nearly went on a rampage. Still, it’s not like those commercials wouldn’t be on with a Christmas or Mother’s Day or “time to propose, sucker” theme at any other time of year.

    I mean, I would be perfectly happy if I never again in my LIFE walked into a CVS that was papered with red cardboard boxes full of shitty candy, especially if it was JANUARY at the time. But I don’t mind an additional special occasion to give someone candy and remember to shave my legs. (Oh whoops, but I totally didn’t do that. There’s almost-married life for you.) I guess I’m just not pressed about it either way.

    Before I was born my parents celebrated Balentine’s Day, which is March 14. If my birthday weren’t March 21 I’m sure my dad would get me Balentine’s Day chocolates instead.

  45. I think what’s especially hard for our single sisters is that there is a stigma to being single as well. Something must be wrong with the girl/woman who cannot latch onto a partner – that’s the common stereotype.

    There are actually studies out there that people list steretypes about single people that are relatively frighteningly like stereotypes about fat people. They are considered not as smart, not as responsible, less personable, less attractive. And there are subtle discriminations that happen, and a ton of external pressure to conform to couplehood.

    I am in a relationship and I did want a relationship, but it took me realizing that I couldn’t hang living my life on that relationship to find one – in the same way that you can’t hang living your life on losing the weight first. When I put myself out there and actually followed through, I found someone who is amazing for me. It took me 37 years to get there. And you know what, if I hadn’t found it, I think I would have been okay too.

  46. My experience in accepting my fattyness is similar, except the exact opposite (huh?).

    One big part of ending the dieting and self-hatred was the realization that I really don’t want to be in a sexual or romantic relationship. I always had boyfriends, and when I was between boyfriends, I was always looking. And never happy. It wasn’t until I figured out that coupling isn’t for me that I was able to really accept and love my body and my life.

  47. Turns out, I can love him every day AND on Valentine’s day

    Exactly! I know Kate didnt mean it that way, but the “Well I love my partner every day” thing bugs the crap out of me because it always seems to condescendingly imply that those of us who celebrate Valentine’s Day don’t. That being said, I get what Kate is saying about all the bullshit associated with Valentine’s Day in our society.

    And after all that – we’re not even celebrating it this year because our anniversary is this Sunday so we’re celebrating that instead. I am having a Valentine’s day party with my Brownies tonight though, we’re going to make red fabric hearts and exchange Valentine’s =)

  48. Great post, Kate. A statement that has stuck with me since highschool, made by Mr. Roarke on _Fantasy Island_ of all things, says “the search for beauty is the search for love.” That used to be true for me.

    I am single these days, by choice, and am not in the position to date. This is a good thing. However, looking back over my past, I’ve spent a lot of my time needing a guy in order to live my life. Lately, I have been really trying to live my life — whether I have the guy or not, being in school, and being very busy. Heck, I’m even doing a small part in _The Vagina Monologues_ tomorrow night. I’m learning how to live, and enjoy living, single.

    I always remember the line from John Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

  49. I want to add to my earlier post about this, especially after reading this (sorry, I’m afraid to try italics!):

    “The way I see it, I’m not ready to be found. I’ve found myself in this place where I have more important things I need to do first…”

    This is a brilliant observation for someone to make about themselves, IMHO. I can only speak for myself, but I think there’s sometimes pressure to be in a relationship because one looks at that as a marker of self-esteem, rather than looking within for that self-acceptance.

    From my late teens through my mid-thirties, I had a series of decent relationships. The longest lasted four years, but I’d wanted to end it after six months and just didn’t. I was busy with other things and it was convenient to have a partner.

    When I did finally end that last one, I decided “enough!” I need to just be with me, my friends, my career, my hobbies — who needs a relationship. I’m busy with my life.

    So I tried just “dating.” Not looking, but intentionally going out with a few different guys here and there (some were regulars, others just once or twice). These were guys that I met through friends or some of my activities (I belonged to a lot of art organizations and was really into local bands).

    From July through February I wasn’t looking, I was “dating,” and really was spending my time enjoying the city and being free. My plan was to be single for a few years.

    But in February of that year, I met this one guy and we couldn’t get enough of each other, but it didn’t matter because he was moving out west anyway, so we HAD to be casual about it. He kept delaying his trip, but finally left after six months of us hanging out.

    I went back to “dating,” but missed him. After six months apart he proposed and asked me to move, and I was shocked because I really did love him and I said yes.

    The entire time, I weighed between 190 and 195 and was a mod-ish hipster. I’m 5’6. He had ripped abs (when I met him), a great tan, snowboarder dreadlocks, and an otherwise J. Crew/ Nautica style. He’s 6’0 and weighed about 180.

    My weight was not an issue and I never thought about my “self esteem” throughout the process. It was simply irrelevant.

    My overall point is that for me personally — it wasn’t I until I’d spent time really just being with myself in the world that I was truly ready to meet someone. And even if I’d never met this great guy, I actually *know* I’d have met someone else who was right eventually.

    That’s why I hope some of the awesome women on here (36 year old virgin! Right on!!) who maybe feel unhappy because the aren’t in a relationship think about the relationship they have when themselves. We are all different. There’s no rush. (I was actually kind of sad to have met someone I liked so much and was GLAD — GLAD! — that he was moving away so that I wouldn’t end up in a relationship.)

    You don’t have to love yourself 100%, but slowing down a bit, exploring what you think you know about you, and above all, treating yourself the way you want to be treated can go a long way toward making you happy, whether you have a parter or not.

    Sorry if it sounds preachy, and no one has all the answers, but you really are already in a relationship with someone who’s going to be with you the rest of your life. And to quote a really excellent blogger, you are awesome the way you are.

  50. Kate said, Smart threatens a lot of men. Funny threatens a lot of men.

    Really? I guess I was too busy being smart and funny to notice. “Smart” and “funny” are my top 2 qualities for what I like in a person, so maybe the ones that are threatened by that in women don’t possess a lot of that themselves.

    I think some women try too hard and end up being someone else when they are dating. I met my husband when I was with friends, so I was comfortable being myself (the second time we met, we were LARPing, so I was literally being someone else, but that’s another story entirely). He said when he came in and saw me, he had to meet me – even though a friend of his had invited a bunch of (thin, pretty) girls that my husband was *specifically supposed to entertain* to that party.

    I strongly believe that “honesty” and “confidence” will get you the right person for you. Makeup, clothes, fat is all external – might get you the initial contact, but beyond that, you have to be yourself.

  51. I think Brad Pitt’s kinda hot from the neck down . . .

    I’m from the city that screwed up Valentine’s Day (American Greetings is based here) and, well, okay, as much as I love candy and pink cookies and frosting, I’m not expecting so much as dinner out tonight.

    What would be truly awesome (and what won’t happen, since I’d have had to mention it about daily for the last month) would be if my boyfriend would take me to a local reading of the Vagina Monologues for V-Day.

    I’ll settle for Thursday Night Going to Bed Early. :)

    Also, I am totally Kate Harding.

  52. This was a nice post, thank you. I’m 24 and single – intellectually, I know plenty of people find someone older than I am, but I still have moments of choking panic where I’m convinced that nobody does. I hate it, but have never quite managed to turn it off.

    But this Valentines Day I’ve talked friends into getting together for a night of geeky TV watching, which is awesome. :-)

  53. He would literally take food away from me, in front of other people.

    God, every time I think I’m inured to the amount of shame that has been forced on people by their “loved ones,” someone proves me wrong. Ugh. I’m sorry you went through that, Coyote, and I’m glad the current Mr Coyote makes you happy.

  54. I so agree with you, Time-Machine. And – even though I’m sure that you don’t need reassurance from the likes of me – I wanna say that judging by what you’ve written, you sound like someone I’d want to be my BFF. You rock.

    Wheee! I love BFFs!

    Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever used the term BFF before.

    Wev. ((BFFs 4EVA!!!1!one)

    (And it is nice to meet someone else who understands pockets!)

  55. I loved this post the first time and I love it more now.

    re: v-day- My boyfriend and I generally get into a fight on Valentines day, we have yet to have one go smoothly. This year he’s covering a game an hour and a half away (he’s a sports writer) and won’t be home till I go to bed, so hopefully nothing bad will happen :)

    I constantly fight the “valentines day is a stupid greeting card holiday” vs. “I heart flowers! And candy! Buy them for me!”

  56. Kate said, Smart threatens a lot of men. Funny threatens a lot of men.

    Really? I guess I was too busy being smart and funny to notice.

    Which, you’ll note, is exactly what I suggested people do. Doesn’t mean it’s not obvious when someone blatantly tries to put you in your place.

  57. This is my first Valentine’s Day with a valentine. I’m going out with the rest of the cast and crew after the show opens tonight. Our Valentine’s Day was half an hour last night which we didn’t expect to get, because of it being show week. This amuses me – the one time I ever had the chance to go be romantic on February the fourteenth, and I’m going to a cheesy disco with mates instead.

    Sometimes we manage to be romantic, and go for dinner or see a film. But not always. The first time we met, he thoroughly trounced me with a double-handed sword.

    I had a point to make, I’m sure.

    Oh yes.

    The point was that meeting A. was luck. I finally got talked into LARPing and he was a ref . I wasn’t feeling particularly good about my body, though I was fairly comfortable in it, because LARPing forced me to really notice my lack of fitness. I wasn’t looking particularly good – muddy trousers, a baggy woolly jumper and glasses held on with string aren’t flattering on anybody. I wasn’t looking for a man. I stumbled across a guy who stumbled across me, and both of us fell.

    (Two weeks later he painted my face black and brown and had me run around a field dressed in furs. Which is an interesting way to express a crush…)

  58. Pingback: A Valentine’s Day ode to my husband - and myself » The-F-Word.org

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  60. I recall this post being right around when I found your blog. And I agree wholeheartedly, especially with the bullshit that everyone feeds you about only finding love when you’re not looking. Cause of how I’m always looking. Always.

    I’m more single this year and more fat. Okay.

    I was just talking with a guy I work with. (He happens to be my future husband, but he doesn’t so much know that. Plus he has a girlfriend. Whatevs.) Anyway he was saying how he doesn’t do Valentine’s Day, and went into his explanation.

    I said that’s all fine, but you know what sucks? Having a two year old as your date. (I am babysitting my stunning nephew tonight, and am in fact quite excited about it.) I said it’s easy to not celebrate it when you have the luxury of that option. He conceded my point.

    Now on to the marrying. Blue eyes as big as Hugh Laurie’s.

  61. I’d also like to throw down for fat girls trapped in shitty relationships. bad relationships ARE NOT better than no relationships. It’s so hard to love yourself when you’re with someone who isn’t loving you as hard as possible.

    I went to try on pants yesterday, and while I’m trying not to let it really get me down, I’ve definitely gone up a size or two, and if I had someone who’s reaction was hurtful, I’d probably be in a full on depressive spiral. I guess I’m moving closer to personal FA since while I wasn’t chipper about it, I did buy panties that fit and didn’t crawl under the covers and die. and boy, i feel better wearing correctly sized panties. constricting my hoohoo ftl!

  62. I just happened to reread this the other day, but I’m glad you reposted it today. I used to use Valentines Day as an actual excuse to torture myself for being single. I would hype up in my mind how horribly sad and lonely I would feel and berate the body that I believed caused it.

    This year, I don’t care. I’m going to a concert tonight, alone, and I don’t care. I’m an intelligent, funny, interesting person and I’m not half bad to look at either. If I meet someone who can appreciate that, excellent, but if not I have no shortage of love in my life and no shortage of happiness either, and I know how lucky I am to have both those things, and finally knowing all this has made me realize how foolish I’d be to throw it all away because I don’t have a man around to validate it. Because, of course, I don’t need a man around to validate it.

  63. A lot of this rings true for me…. It took having my first real relationship in college to understand that some people find me attractive. Until then, I assumed that I was too fat to be pretty. Once I got that this one guy finds me attractive, therefore other people probably do/will, too, I’ve stopped thinking that I’m ugly. Even long after we broke up, I still think that aspect of our relationship did wonders for me. I do think that being a fat feminist probably limits my dating pool somewhat, but in a good way — I don’t have any interest in dating fatphobic or non-feminist men or women.

    When I find someone, I find someone. Otherwise, tonight I’m talking my dog to our second round of agility classes, so I’ll be spending Valentine’s day with someone who I’m positive adores me :)

  64. Stacy: “36 year old virgin! Right on!!”

    Heh, yeah…not so much for me. It’s not something I’m terribly thrilled about. It doesn’t bother me to admit it and generally, I try to use it to humorous advantage (because if I don’t laugh about it…well, I’ll laugh and cry about it simultaneously–I’ve got that down to an art these days). But it bothers the holy fuck out of me in general because in my head, it’s just one more thing that makes me not good enough. It’s something that I wouldn’t care about if I could just get my head and my heart on the same page and accepting that my ass is one that isn’t going to find a saddle and that it’s okay and it’s okay for me.

    (insert picture of Debbie Downer here)

  65. After many many years of dreading Valentine’s–single, fat teenager with no dating prospects and her parents are the only ones who send flowers, and THEN my birthday is the day after so it’s a double-whammy 48-hour pity party EXTRAVAGANZA–I finally just said fuckit. Now that there is a Mr Phledge, we sit and watch Kay’s Jewelers commercials and mutually gag ourselves, then cackle at our sick sense of humor. He did wish me a happy one, but meh. I thrived after finally realizing that not only do I not need one special day to feel and be loved, but that I didn’t need to feel and be loved by one person anyway. Sex? I like. But my sanity came from knowing that I could happily live by myself for the rest of my long years. Sometimes I still wish that we had two domiciles, I miss my alone time so much.

  66. Oh, yeah, and speaking of heteronormative, can I just tell you how much I cannot stand erectile dysfunction drug commercials? That is all.

  67. But it bothers the holy fuck out of me in general because in my head, it’s just one more thing that makes me not good enough.

    Jane…I’ve been wanting to say something to you since I read your earlier comment, but I didn’t quite know what I wanted to say. Even though I’m a bit younger than you I understand the place you’re in, and it can be crazy making, and honestly, I don’t think anything I’m going to say here would change that. But if I can offer to make a dent…

    I’ve been looking at your website and you seem awesome and interesting, and you are definitely cute, and if you just wanted to have sex with someone, you could find someone in five minutes; you could probably find ten someone’s in five minutes (depending upon how fast you talk *lol*). But my guess, if I may make one, is that you have (even if you don’t acknowledge them) high standards for a partner, as well you should. You are not willing to make that kind of leap with someone who isn’t just what you want, and that isn’t a bad thing. It’s a brave thing. A tremendously brave thing.

    Because as I said, you could definitely have sex with someone any time you wanted; every day of the week if you were interested in doing so! But you are interested in having a certain kind of sex, the kind that is one of the reasons people have sex in the first place…the kind that makes you feel something that can’t be achieved with a vibrator.

    And I wouldn’t rule out finding that for yourself. Our culture says that if you haven’t found it by 25 or 30, well, get a couple dozen cats and lock yourself away because you’re an old maid, but that’s frankly our stupidity. Love does not play by our rules or our timelines (as much as we wish it did); it comes when we find something that is worthy of us. Hopefully you’ll have at least 70 more good years to find it.

    Like I said, I’m sure that doesn’t erase the hurt and the nonsense, but I hope it helps somewhat.

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  69. Jae: thanks. I appreciate it.

    The ultimate irony: I’M ALLERGIC TO CATS! Heh heh heh. I can’t even “crazy cat lady” right! Though I am currently in love with hedgehogs. Maybe I’ll be the Crazy Hedgehog Lady. Thanks again, Jae. :)

  70. Hey Kate–

    I haven’t finished reading the comments, because by the time I got to the one about dating guys who REFUSED to believe you were smart, I had to respond. I dated a guy who was in law school and absolutely treated my intelligence like it was something “cute.” And who got furious and condescending when I was able to work my way through his logic homework better than he could. Before him, I dated a guy who couldn’t hide his incredulity at the fact that I’d outscored him on the ACT (this was the early college years).

    Interestingly enough, I am very happily coupled in a rather non-traditional way to a man I outearn, who knows I’m smarter than he is (although he’s plenty smart). And neither of us gives a shit.

  71. Oh, and I’m loud and fat and feminist and all that good stuff too–he doesn’t give a shit about that either.

  72. The ultimate irony: I’M ALLERGIC TO CATS! Heh heh heh. I can’t even “crazy cat lady” right! Though I am currently in love with hedgehogs. Maybe I’ll be the Crazy Hedgehog Lady.

    That’s something to consider! It’s very unique *lol* Think of how famous that would make you…local news stories, “Local woman raises hedgehogs! Story at 11.” And then it gets picked up by Good Morning America…then your own show on Animal Planet, “Hedgehog Manor!”

    (Sorry I’m in a crazy silly mood *lol*)

  73. I love this post. I love that you are willing to agree with all of us that it sucks to be single, and now that you’ve found someone you haven’t forgotten everything you went through when you were single. It’s like finding someone makes you repress all of your life before that and you forget that you would have killed someone to say those things to you when you were single (not that I think anyone here is doing that, but I’m sure you all know people who are that way). I get tired of hearing people tell me “You’ll find someone when you’re not looking” because it’s always someone in a relationship that says it, and it’s so condescending. Just pretend like you don’t care anymore! Indifference is hot! But once you decide you aren’t looking anymore don’t forget to be open to the fabulous men that will suddenly flock to you! Whatever. Thank you for admitting that while you should love yourself, it’s a hell of a lot easier when someone else loves you, and that you’re not a bad person for looking, and that we are great the way we are.

  74. Hey Jane — just to clarify, I hope I didn’t sound flip when mentioned I was rooting for you. I really do think there is no rush.

    Two things though:
    1) it’s not your fault that you haven’t met someone who is right for you yet
    2)

    “…in my head, it’s just one more thing that makes me not good enough. It’s something that I wouldn’t care about if I could just get my head and my heart on the same page and accepting that my ass is one that isn’t going to find a saddle and that it’s okay and it’s okay for me.”

    Um, who says your ass isn’t going to find a saddle? I know it’s hard to believe right now, but there really is no reason to think you won’t find one. But you most definitely owe it to yourself to understand that (a) you deserve one and (b) you don’t actually *need* one to be “good enough” OR happy. I know, I know…it sucks right now, but that’s because you can’t know it until you know it.

    Regardless, I think you’ll get there. I too checked out your site, and you do indeed seem fun, awesome, smart, funny and beautiful. :)

    P.S. “Audience of One” story? — hilarious!

  75. We must remember that the media, advertisers, and the diet industry are selling us dissatisfaction with our bodies in order to make a profit. The obesity industries, including commercial weight-loss programs, weight-loss drug purveyors and bariatric surgery centers, will likely top $315 billion this year, nearly 3 percent of the overall U.S. economy. These industries make a HUGE profit from training people to hate bigger bodies and to think that big automatically means unhealthy.

  76. It was mostly because I’m smart — and with that comes an inability to shut up, behave like a lady, worry about making my man look good (he can and should do that himself), or focus on being “sweet” and socially acceptable to the exclusion of pursuing my own interests and goals.

    OMG. This is why we need to hang out, Kate!

    Seriously, though, I can’t express how important it was to find a guy who likes me because of these qualities that I have, not despite them, and who is attracted to me because of the way I look, not despite it. And man, it is nice to date someone who isn’t threatened by my ambition. That got really, really old. The solution was to find someone so confident and brilliant that he really could care less that I’m confident and not afraid to look smart. Also, we both talk non-stop.

    You know, it really does make me sad though that so many people are able to feel better about their bodies only through a strong relationship. It worked out well for me, but I hate to think that it wouldn’t if I hadn’t.

    Though it really is nice to get to be my fat, sailor-mouthed, aggressive, ridiculously affectionate and sappy self. I’m salty-sweet. Like a peanut M&M.

  77. Oh yeah! Just one more P.S. but this one’s really important! –

    I was 37 when I met that guy I wrote about several posts up. (I’m now 42.)

  78. Don’t believe the line about how love only happens when you’re not looking. When I decided that I wanted someone else in my life, I made an honest effort on craigslist and found a wonderful man.

    Now I make myself look for love everyday — in the mirror, across the dinner table, down the phone lines to my family.

  79. Sorry if this is a point someone else made upthread, but I think it’s also good for people to remember that while finding someone who finds you attractive can feel fabulous, what feels even better is finding someone who YOU find attractive and pursuing THEM.

    I point this out because I think that women (especially, but men too I’m sure) can too easily fall into the first relationship that comes along because WOW he/she finds me attractive! and not really ask herself Yeah, but do I find him/her attractive?

  80. One of the most important things I eventually realized is that I was indeed looking for a needle in a haystack — but it wasn’t because I’m fat. It was mostly because I’m smart — and with that comes an inability to shut up, behave like a lady, worry about making my man look good (he can and should do that himself), or focus on being “sweet” and socially acceptable to the exclusion of pursuing my own interests and goals. Add fat to all that, and I’m, like, the polar opposite of what men in this culture are trained to see as attractive: a loud, funny, smart, independent, strong-willed, hotheaded, stubborn, ambitious (which is different from competitive), emotionally expressive, feminist fat chick. THE HORROR!!!

    Yeah, funny how it works out that the same guys who object to “fat” are also the same ones who would also object to “loud,” “weird,” and “furiously brilliant,” doesn’t it? I’m a lot more “weird” than “loud,” and really so much the opposite of a hothead (I HATE to fight with anyone I love, I actually have no idea how to do it without wanting to die) that it almost freaks guys out more than being a hothead (fortunately, my partner does not like fighting and arguing any more than I do).

    But otherwise, same diff, and that’s probably why I did not attract very many lovers even when I was much younger and thinner, and the ones I did attract made me more miserable than not. You have broken the Arm Candy Covenant, prepare to become a champion masturbator!

  81. I could say a lot of things about your post, but I’ll go with the most important, even though it’s also the most simple:

    Thank you for this.

  82. m. leblanc, kate: I have struggled a lot, in my current relationship and in past ones, with being the person in the relationship with the most ambition and earning potential. My bf and I have to discuss this on a pretty regular basis, actually, because although he realizes it is ridiculous and antiquated, he does sometimes feel threatened by me being the earner. And overcoming evolution and socialization can be a bit difficult. But we work through these things together. I guess my point is that not all men who are threatened by this are total jerks, and some are willing to work on overcoming it.

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  84. I’m very glad you decided to repost this, since I am new to the blog and apparently missed it in looking back.

    This resonates in such a huge way – I met my husband when I was 39. He proposed at my 40th birthday. And let us not kid ourselves… I was looking for someone. But maybe in a different way than that implies. Before that, I’d spent a lot of time looking for a lifetime mate, and screwed myself up a lot in the process. I fell crazily in love with a married man (Kate, your later post about men marrying demure, thin women then having an affair with a fat, outspoken, interesting woman blew me away… that read a lot like my life, too.) and generally pulled my hair out on Valentine’s Day and Christmas and every other holiday. But then I finally really did focus on me – what did I want? Where did I want to go and be and do? And once I started really addressing all those things, not just paying lip service to them, I think I must’ve started glowing radioactively or something… because men were everywhere. I had a choice. And I was as fat then as I am today. Does my husband give me confidence? You bet. He serenaded me at our wedding reception with the Maroon5 song with the line, “I want to make you feel beautiful…” and he does, daily. But I’d like to think that given time, I might’ve gotten there myself, too.

    I really want to put my arms around everyone who feels this applies to them. And squeeze. Hard. And then I’ll remind you that all the big hearts and silly cards will be gone tomorrow in favor of Peeps and pastel colors and lilies. Really.

  85. When I was single, I always called it Bah, Humbug Day and dressed in black to commemorate it. It’s not really appropriate to my situation anymore, but some of my friends still carry on that morose tradition…

    While I’m not a traditional person in many ways, I still feel the allure of holiday traditions, be it Christmas or Halloween or Easter or 4th of July or Valentine’s Day. I can sink my teeth into a cultural holiday, though I try as much as possible to avoid the horribly commercial aspects of any of these holidays. I celebrate them with friends and family, in the way that I like, because I enjoy them.

    My boyfriend and I spend a lot of time together but only go on fancy dates probably four or five times a year, so we take advantage of things like Valentine’s Day and our anniversary. And I’m excited for my hot Valentine’s Day date with my boyfriend tonight – we’ll be dressed to the nines and out on the town (cliche attack!!!).

    And amen to Brad Pitt from Fight Club. Seriously.

  86. Also, one year, I celebrated Singles Awareness Day (Feb 14th) by getting blisteringly drunk with friends and watching American Psycho. I thought it was awesome.

  87. Actually, I may be turning it into Eat As Much Chocolate As You Want Before Finally Giving In To The Fact That Sugar Makes You Feel Like Total Ass And You Should Cut Down Day (well, week). I don’t expect it to be a particularly sad occasion, because I expect to feel pretty crummy every time I eat v-day chocolates for the next week or so, and then be really ready to stop. But if anyone has tips for cutting down on sugar without feeling like you’re dieting, do email me.

  88. Well I fully plan to eat more chocolate than my body can actually process, because otherwise a) V-day would suck and b) the chocolates would go stale. And then I plan to start eating the amount of chocolate my body can actually process, which is “not very much.”

  89. He would literally take food away from me, in front of other people.

    Coyote, perhaps you should give yourself a retroactive award for being Cool Person of the Year that year.

    ‘Cause if it had been me, he might have ended up wearing it.

  90. But if anyone has tips for cutting down on sugar without feeling like you’re dieting…

    FJ, I don’t think I have an email address for you, but if what you mean is less processed/white sugar, you might try

    - more apples
    - more fresh figs
    - more fiber (try psyllium husk caps)
    - more magnesium (chelated, if you can find it at your health food store, but check with your nutritionist as to how much you should have for your personal body)

    and possibly (also dependent on what your nutritionist says) more vitamin E/EFAs and more water with all of that.

  91. Yup, that’s all I mean… fruit had better be okay, since it’s the majority of my diet! And I only seem to feel awful after eating refined sugar.

    I already take fiber for GI weirdness (and drink lots of water for the same reason), but I didn’t know about magnesium… don’t have a nutritionist but I’ll bring it up with my endocrinologist. And I like any excuse to eat fresh figs. Thanks!

  92. You have broken the Arm Candy Covenant, prepare to become a champion masturbator!

    Bwah! And shopping list:

    chocolate
    chocolate
    chocolate
    chocolate
    batteries
    chocolate
    chocolate
    chocolate
    chocolate

  93. This is such a great post, and so resonant with me because for as long as I can remember every single time I have fallen for someone I have tried to stop eating because whoever he is he couldn’t possibly want me as I am. I am getting a bit smarter, I started really liking someone a couple of months ago and thus far have managed to avoid the crash diet and exercise overload. Though not because I think he’ll like me as I am, I never thought he would (and know for sure now that he doesn’t) but because I didn’t want to be with someone who didn’t like me for who I am (so, in essence, baby steps!)

    I also hate valentines, partially because it falls so near my birthday it steals all me couple-y friends away from my parties if I’m not careful… but post-valentine’s day chocolate sale at Thornton’s will be here soon, which only goes to show, there’s a silver lining to everything!

  94. I never really paid much attention to VD when I was single (fat or thin.) Being single was more of a drag when I wanted to go to a concert (or other even that wasn’t a movie) and none of my friends wanted to go. So, I started to go by myself and learned to enjoy it, too.

    I got married for the first time at the age of 41. It’s great; my hubby knows I’d rather have him bring me a burger than flowers and that I’d much prefer cargo pants from the men’s dept. (for the POCKETS!!) to jewelry.

    I did get the burger, but not the cargo pants, which are a bit harder to find in size 44 regular.

    Chocolate’s a moot point since we always have some in the house at all times.

  95. Twincats, really agree about the cinema/concerts/plays! I’m trying to train myself that it is okay to go on my own, and everyone there is not actually looking at me and thinking ‘what a loser’ and if they are it’s their problem. I now get to do far more things I want to do but used to miss because no one was free/wanted to see/do it enough.

  96. I gave up on dating/relationships/etc. some time ago,* but V-day never bothered me much until this year, when I realized I didn’t have any single friends left in the area to go get hammered with! Thankfully my one true love, Netflix, has come to my rescue with a delivery of “Lost” DVDs!

    *by choice, mostly

  97. Twincats, really agree about the cinema/concerts/plays! I’m trying to train myself that it is okay to go on my own, and everyone there is not actually looking at me and thinking ‘what a loser’ and if they are it’s their problem. I now get to do far more things I want to do but used to miss because no one was free/wanted to see/do it enough.

    Nobody is looking at you and thinking that. Nobody really notices you at all at those events unless you deliberately make a spectacle of yourself. Once the lights go down, who cares, really? Besides, even if you have a partner, s/he might not want to see everything you want to see and there might even be some things you’d prefer to see without them. So go for it! (And buying a single ticket, when there’s assigned seating, might get you a better seat location anyway.)

  98. You have broken the Arm Candy Covenant, prepare to become a champion masturbator!

    and

    Besides, even if you have a partner, s/he might not want to see everything you want to see and there might even be some things you’d prefer to see without them.

    Meowser, if I was not married, and if you was not married, I would ask you to marry me. I guess we would also probably have to be in the same state, and somewhere where same sex marriage was okay. You are totally my fatosphere secret girl crush.

  99. Beyond unfair is the amount of work men expect us to do for the “privilege” of being with them. And I’m getting what out of the deal, exactly? I’m too good to be some man’s universal appliance, and I’ve never met a man who didn’t treat me like one.

  100. (And buying a single ticket, when there’s assigned seating, might get you a better seat location anyway.)

    That is so true. I’ve gotten fantastic seats over the years at shows I’ve gone to solo.

  101. Hey Phledge, I’m not married, for whatever that’s worth. But maybe Massachusetts will take us!

    Wicked Child, I think Kate is saying almost the same thing you are. She said looking for a guy who wasn’t looking for a “universal appliannce,” as you put it, was like “looking for a needle in a haystack.” I think you guys are more in agreement here than not.

  102. Wicked Child, I’m not doubting your word that those are the men you’ve met, but I think you need to meet some new men, whether in a dating capacity or simply as people to know.

    You absolutely are too good to be anybody’s universal appliance. The good news is you don’t always have to choose between that and no men in your life.

    I’ve met men who were threatened by my brains, my humor, my confidence, and my willingness to buck expectation. I’ve also met men who celebrated those aspects of me and asked nothing of me but my continued presence. I’m now married to an amazing guy who takes care of me every bit as much as I take care of him. I also have some incredible male friends who would do anything in the world for me if I asked them to. The feeling is entirely mutual, too.

    Don’t settle for any man who expects you to handle all the dirty work in their worlds, but please don’t shut out half the population of the world because you’ve had some bad luck, either. There are wonderful people of both sexes out there who would be delighted to know you and help you. Take small steps to start. Try not to assume the worst going in. See what happens.

  103. “My objection to Valentine’s Day largely stems from the way it’s shoved down every one’s throat, including the throats of single people who are made to feel like freaks for the first two weeks of February every year.”

    I think the offensiveness to some single people comes mostly from the “It’s not enough to succeed, others must fail (Gore Vidal)” competitiveness of it.
    Women with ‘acceptable’, ‘normal’, sanctioned V-Day celebrations can, on occasion, be a little face-rubbing about their ‘achievement’.

    I know that both my brother and my best friend, unrepentant womanizers, the two of them, both swear by the public (school, office, friends) expression of their feelings as really being a successful tactic, because women like the ‘showoff’ aspect.

    I am with a very lovely boy just now, but I always feel like I’m never single enough; alone time is always so lovely…

  104. I think the “finding when you’re not looking” thing isn’t about women looking for a partner, but rather women looking for Patriarchy Approved Justification for Existence. I’ve heard the advice given to those desperate Cosmo-Trained Girls who feel that lack of male attention is lack of self – “stop looking” has always seemed to me to mean mainly stop looking OUT for what you already have.

    However, a friend, lover, partner – those things are good to look for.

    I’ve never really been single, but nor have I ever been particularly interested in V-day. There are so many birthdays around me in the month of February that I’d rather have the day to ignore life.

  105. Holls, I totally agree – Vday has always seemed to me more competitive than personal: an occasion for high school kids to send show flowers to one another’s classrooms. But I must admit the marketing feels like it’s changing: I had a bus driver offer me a V-day wish today, and a boss give me chocolate. Which is nice; I’m all for “give chocolate to everyone”.

  106. People at work were very nice – the men were all very friendly in wishing us women a happy valentine’s day (not that I generally put much stock in it either.) One brought in a generous portion of particularly fudgy brownies for each of us. It was nice.

    When I woke up there was a pretty shopping bag with a box of chocolate covered cherries, a card, and the new Stephen King book – I didn’t even know there was one! So talk about a thoughtful gift – yay! Couldn’t have wanted anything else more. (Ok except the money to stop the house foreclosure, but that’s kind of unrealistic right now.)

    Two years ago I had seen a pretty little 10K gold ring with three little heart-shaped, “synthetic ruby” (rather fuchsia colored) stones in it on sale at K-mart – now I like very little jewelry at all; not my thing. But I saw it and mentioned that I liked it. It was just so pretty. So on Valentine’s day I got in the car to be brought to…wherever, and there was a bag with a pretty little box I had used for a Christmas gift…it was filled with M&Ms. And a rose, and a card. And a song I loved on the CD player. He asked if I’d looked in the box, and I said “Yeah, M&Ms, thanks :)” But it turned out there was also a little jewelry box with the ring in there.

    14 years or so ago, we were dead poor, and I had recently fallen in love with the Jim Croce story on “Behind the Music.” So he found a copy of Croce’s greatest hits for $2 on vinyl (at the time you really couldn’t find vinyl – only CDs; we had a local store with tons of old vinyl for only 2 bucks a pop as they were ‘obsolete.’) So he played it for me. That was my Valentine’s gift.

    Those were three of the most romantic things he’s ever done – it was the fact that they were a complete surprise, totally unexpected, and totally thoughtful. Things you don’t even know you want or expect to get. Just loving things. Oh of course you do loving things throughout the year as well, but when I get one of these surprises and it’s something I love so much, well…I love it :)

  107. wicked child, i do hope you meet some men who don’t treat you that way. even when i despaired of ever finding a partner, i had male friends who i thought were fabulous people, just not for me. and now i have a partner… i honestly can’t express how wonderful he is to me. i earn more than him (well, he’s a teacher, big surprise), he thinks i’m smarter than him and says so, and is completely unbothered by it, we share all housework equally and in fact i think he might actually do more than me (i haven’t done laundry in months! he does it and then folds it up and everything!) if we disagree on something (which is rare) he always listens and thinks and we resolve things easily. he has even changed the one behaviour i really couldn’t handle (him going silent and aloof when he’s upset) because it bothered me so much. i know how difficult it is to change the way your brain works; that’s just his response to being annoyed/upset with something – but since it became an issue for a weeks for us at the beginning of our marriage, i’m quite sure i’ve annoyed him since then, but he’s never done it again.

    i know how lucky i am. both my sisters have married men who they have to look after as much as their kids. one is on the verge of divorce, and the other is happy but sees through rose-coloured glasses – which i hope she continues to do since i want her to stay happy. but there are good guys out there, and good partners – my brother is one to his wife, and my male friends are, to their wives.

    and even though i thought there were ‘no good ones left’, i found mine at the age of almost 34 (and i’m in a very traditional society where to be single and not married with kids by age 27 or so is really not acceptable).

  108. Well I am extremely late here…..but I’ll post anyhow.

    I’ve always enjoyed Valentine’s Day. Though the meaning has changed through the years, I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating your love for another person. My husband and I say “I love you” everyday, but sometimes it’s nice to find out your SO is more sentimental about V-day than you are.

    I always tell my husband that I am more of a romantic than he is, but that isn’t really the truth. I believe he has more of a romantic and I am more of a realist. When V-day or our anniversery come around this couldn’t be more evident.

  109. One of the most important things I eventually realized is that I was indeed looking for a needle in a haystack — but it wasn’t because I’m fat. It was mostly because I’m smart — and with that comes an inability to shut up, behave like a lady, worry about making my man look good (he can and should do that himself), or focus on being “sweet” and socially acceptable to the exclusion of pursuing my own interests and goals. Add fat to all that, and I’m, like, the polar opposite of what men in this culture are trained to see as attractive: a loud, funny, smart, independent, strong-willed, hotheaded, stubborn, ambitious (which is different from competitive), emotionally expressive, feminist fat chick. THE HORROR!!!

    I think I need to get myself a ‘I am Kate Harding’ t-shirt. :)

    I haven’t posted here before, but I have been reading since December or so, and I’m simply in awe. I’d never really thought about the possibility of breaking through the anti-fat paradigm, but right now my eyes are wide open. I’m still really struggling with what this post is about, though – I’m a textbook serial monogamist, but I always tend to think that the guy I’m with is the only one in the whole wide world who finds me attractive (and that this guy is mistaken, and that at some point he will realize that I’m fat and therefore hideous, and ditch me). I really need to work on that.

    Anyway – there is so much wisdom here, both in the blogs themselves and in the comments… wow.

  110. Oh, and I forgot to add – Brad Pitt doesn’t do it for me either. Edward Norton (ca. Fight Club and/or Keeping the Faith) is my Hollywood crush :)

  111. Oh, wow! This:

    “Patriarchy Approved Justification for Existence”

    Just totally sums up what I meant when I said:

    “Being single was more of a drag when I wanted to go to a concert (or other even that wasn’t a movie) and none of my friends wanted to go.”

    Living in a couples-oriented society means you need a Patriarchy Approved Justification for Existence to be out in public.

    Patriarchy Approved Justification for Existence => P.A.J.E. needs to be a T-shirt, as in “I have turned the P.A.J.E.”

  112. Man, do I ever wish I knew how to say that so it would actually sound true.

    You just did. Bravo! <3 this entry. Thank you. As a single girl, I needed a dose of this.

  113. You have broken the Arm Candy Covenant, prepare to become a champion masturbator!
    OMG, Meowser, so funny.

    Kate, this post is such a relief. It may be uncomfortable to admit (on both sides) that single people have a harder go of it, but it’s way less uncomfortable than all the lies we tell about it, because the comfort of it being so plainly true is more valuable than the discomfort of feeling single and aggravated or coupled and guilty.

    I still feel a little guilty, though, knowing I have something (a good relationship) that so many other people want and need and deserve just as much as I do.

    And I can also say that even bad relationships (as in, just generally sort of stupid, not mentally or physically abusive) helped me. I dated an alcoholic and then his druggie best friend (yes, yes, bad plan) before I met my current guy. Both of them were terrible candidates for real partnership. Neither of them was entirely as single as represented. Both of these guys told me they liked me for my mind more than my body–in other words, that I wasn’t the hottest girl either of them had been with, and that I wasn’t as hot as they would have liked. Neither of them meant that as an insult, truly, but still.

    And you know what? It STILL helped my self esteem. After the druggie guy and I broke up, I was sort of pissed at men in general, ready to enjoy being single for a while, and a couple of months later I met my current guy. Had I not just dated the two asshats, I would never have had the confidence to flirt with a non-asshat. Among other things, I had been given a chance to see that being naked in front of someone else wasn’t the end of the world after all.

    Actually, this trade-up cycle started earlier. Had I not spent much of my college years sleeping with whoever was willing, I doubt I’d’ve had the confidence to think anyone would want to be with me at all. I realize that sounds terribly destructive, but it wasn’t that way. Casual sex is just that, casual. Most of those guys I wouldn’t have ever wanted to introduce as “my boyfriend”, nor would they have wanted to be thus introduced. But it was fun–not great sex, but fun–and I got to see that I wasn’t repulsive, that I could be naked in front of people, that I could have what I wanted. I was careful, it was all safe and okay. It clearly isn’t for everyone, but it was great for me.

    It also means that I’ve slept with about twice as many people as my guy has (and he’s three years older than me). Just, you know, to add to the rules broken, since I am also smart and loud and fat and all those other unacceptable Kate things. :)

  114. Oh, and Jane, you’re adorable. If you don’t want to be a virgin anymore, well, find someone of the sex of your choice and become not a virgin! I promise you, you won’t have a hard time (pun intended) finding someone if you can settle for no-strings-attached sex. It doesn’t have to be sketchy. Plenty of non-sketchy people want sex (you apparently do, and you’re not sketchy, right?).

    If you’re holding out for the right relationship, here’s my advice: don’t! It will be really awkward if you do find the person of your dreams and then have to deal with the virgin thing, because then you’ll be faced with “But now I’ll only ever get to have sex with one person in my whole life!” It’s much simpler to do it with someone you don’t care deeply about and won’t be embarrassed about being an idiot with. If that makes sense.

    Of course, my route to happiness has clearly been a quirky one, so your mileage will almost certainly vary.

  115. Wish I’d read this post twenty years ago, because when too many WMRs (Well Meaning Relatives) told me that they could introduce me to a “great guy” if only I wasn’t fat, I pretty much stifled my dating life. Not because I intended to put life on hold until I lost weight, but because I believed them, on some level, and said, “the hell with it, I won’t bother dating then”.

    And to Jane: nothing wrong with being a 36 y.o. virgin. And I say this as a 37 y.o. one. Besides, I hear that if a virgin turns 40 they make a movie about it. :-)

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  117. Meh, Mich, being a virgin doesn’t mean anything. You know what counts? Orgasms. If you know how to have one, you’re way ahead of the game. Having sex does NOT mean having an orgasm, and if you don’t, what’s the point? (Ok that’s oversimplified, but still.) Know how to have an orgasm? Awesome. When you meet a willing partner you’re attracted to, teach him/her how to bring you to one. And please, of course, be willing to reciprocate. Merely inserting tab A into slot B does not mean coming.

    I have had conversations with adult, middle-aged married women who had never experienced an orgasm and I was horrified. Didn’t they experiment with their bodies to find out what did it for them? Didn’t their husbands give it a shot and try to figure it out with them? One girl had a hooded clitoris and couldn’t orgasm until she had her clitoris pierced (uh- for me, OUCH!) but after that she was fine. Whatever it takes, y’know? Hell, if it takes vibrators, shower massage implements, massive experimentation with a willing and patient partnet – there’s where you go! A man who is fully satisfied knowing his partner never comes is not worth your time, if you ask me. Even if it takes many “sessions” and many hours. THAT is a partner worth having. Lots of foreplay often helps, and a total lack of pressure in the experimentation.

    Am I totally off topic here? I hope not, but I may be. But still, if you can find someone to experiment with you and find your ULTIMATE happy zone, where you finally relieve that otherwise unscratchable itch, I say that’s someone far worth the while.

    Of course my husband loves to tease me about this – we were traveling through a beautiful – absolutely beautiful – verdant canyon with many trails, and he saw the trails and was excited by them. Well, I’m kinda disabled and the trails didn’t interest me. Then he said, “Well, I could put you down on a log and pleasure you…” and I perked up noticeably. He cracked up and said, “Ok, will there be coming on this trip? If there’s coming involved, then let’s go!” or something like that. So we both had a hysterical laugh…which is of course a nice aphrodisiac too. Or at least a nice bonding thing.

    Might be trite, but learn to come all on your own, and then experiment with your lover to see how he/she can get you there too. Simple F***ing generally doesn’t do it. Just “doing it” is largely worthless. Find the sweet spot, find your pleasure zone, and settle for nothing less than someone who will bring you there, who ENJOYS bringing you there. I’d stay a virgin forever rather than not find a lover who WANTS to and CAN pleasure me. I am perfectly happy to bring him there as well. Might not be simultaneously, but who cares. :)

  118. (Even if you could get thin, would you want to date someone who wouldn’t have wanted you fat?)

    Kate, I so, so wish someone had pointed that out to me almost twenty years ago.

    I was married, for about six years, to a guy who met me fat, married me (temporarily) thin, and spent the rest of our marriage moaning at me for not ever being thin again. Turned out thin was what he’d been aiming for all along. But, you know what? From little things in the way he acted over the wedding and honeymoon period…when I was actually thin…he didn’t really like me thin either. In fact, looking back I believe this guy had big, big problems with liking or respecting any woman, apart from possibly his mother…but that’s another story.

    In the thread where we were giving advice to our 14-year-old selves, I mentioned living alone. For me, doing that after the divorce was a hugely liberating thing. It was meeting ME for the first time, and it was only after I’d gotten to know this mysterious person, what she liked, what she wouldn’t stand for – all that – that I was remotely ready to have a real relationship. I wish I’d had the chance a lot earlier.

    (Oh, and Annie – I was one of those women you describe at age 30. I had to release a lot of myths – that guys automatically knew how to do it, that it should happen automatically within a couple of seconds of contact, that if it didn’t there was something awfully and permanently wrong with me, a helluva lot of baggage about sex and control and what women were and were not supposed to do – before I actually found out what I’d been missing. One more thing that I wish I’d learned a lot earlier.)

  119. I am late to the posting party again….it’s taken me 3 days just to read all the comments, as I was swept along by the local Vagina Monologues – and I see I’m not the only one! Yay! (I was singing and playing my guitar, two songs in the middle and one at the end. Yeah, I’m a rock star. ;))

    kate, you have no idea how much I needed to read this right now.

    I met this amazing guy back in early November, another musician, and SUCH a beautiful man, in all ways that I’ve seen so far, beyond the physical, but including it (IMHO). And we had that instant kind of electricity/eye intensity thing….but he kept avoiding meeting my eyes. And I kept telling myself he couldn’t meet my eyes because he didn’t want the fat chick/didn’t want the fat chick to think he might be interested. NOTHING to do with the fact that he was in a relationship, huh? I’m such an ass. And I KNEW he was in a relationship, and I kept avoiding HIS eyes, too! But deep down somewhere inside me, it was all about the fat!

    This past week, I discovered he has become UN-partnered within the last couple of months. And lo and behold, the night I saw him, at a jam, he gave me this beautiful smile when I came in the door. And I kept catching him peeking at me all night, and looking away when I’d catch him. And he offered me his guitar to jam with, even though I have my own. (Yes, I played his guitar – and blew him away by jamming Led Zep with it! :P) And I STILL keep saying these things to myself: “No way is a guy that beautiful interested in me; I wonder if he’d ever be able to get past the fat?”

    OMFG, what is wrong with me? I mean, that deep down inside nasty-ass self-hateful voice of mine makes it out like the fat is the only thing that could keep us from it! And I thought I was soooo over it, but it’s still there, still fucking up my ability to make eye contact or string together full sentences around a guy whom I think of as “too beautiful for me.” Even though we are so much the same in every other way except body size – I know my worth as a person, and feel his equal in every other way, except I keep comparing his tall thin frame to my fat one and wondering….if….if….. I have to keep telling myself that I am beautiful, too, in as many ways as he is, and my fat is NOT the negating factor to the physical beauty part. But it’s soooo damned hard. And it’s still limiting my ability to not act like a total idiot when I’m around this guy. I am scared to even dare hope, because the pain of being wrong would be too great with a guy like this, who is so fucking perfect for me that it’s not even funny, and with whom I experienced this “other-wordly” connection so great that I find myself comparing every single other guy I meet to that unexplainable thing, and finding the others falling far, far short by comparison.

    That’s what being fat in a culture that tells me I’m ugly and not worthy of anything good has done to me: made me too scared to even hope for something I feel is utterly right for me.

    Well, anyway, those are my thoughts. Thanks again for re-posting this, kate, I really did need to read it.

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  123. “Man, do I ever wish I knew how to say that so it would actually sound true.”
    It sounds true. It is true.
    You made me feel so much better, and I thank you a million times for that.

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