Commentariat, Fat, Media, Other Stuff We Read, Sweet Machine

Quick hit: Prudie gets it right, I think

I’m of two minds about advice columns. I’m highly suspicious of them because they’re often dripping with bad advice (except Ask the Blondes, of course), but I totally love to read them. I love to hear about people’s problems, boring or bizarre, and I love the nutjob answers that most columnists give to their distressed letter writers (see Tennis, Cary). Dear Prudence, while having an excellent name, is often hit or miss, IMHO; she’s fairly pragmatic, but I’ve seen some columns where she just gets everything wrong.

Which is why I’m pleasantly surprised at Prudie’s advice to this woman who met a fantastic guy who’s — steel yourselves — “overweight.” The woman writes, “I am not completely attracted to him. I am on some levels, but I am not sure it would be enough to transition our friendship into a relationship.” Prudie wins points with me by addressing potential fatphobia in her first sentence: “It’s a good sign that you’re not asking how to get your new friend to lose weight so you can be attracted to him.” Bingo! (In a good way for once.)

Check out the whole column,* if you will, and then weigh in (har har): what do you think? Did Prudence get it right? Should she have said something else? Have you had a similar dating experience — and if so, how did it go?

(*Here is where I want to use a clever word for our readers, like “Shakers” or “Pandagonians,” but I can’t quite figure out what sounds best. Shapers? Shapeliers? Shapelies? Prosies? Kate Harding Worshipers? Weigh in on this, too!)

59 thoughts on “Quick hit: Prudie gets it right, I think”

  1. Nice, but for once I’d like to see a man who writes in about a fat female partner getting told to love her the way she is. That never seems to happen. It’s always the woman who’s told she has to adjust.

    I like “Shapers,” myself.

  2. I don’t think Prudie told her to adjust – she just said to not get ahead of herself. Good relationships take time to develop. I know I’ve known men whom I didn’t find attractive at first, for whatever reasons, who grew on me.

    I actually liked that Prudie didn’t say, “You should go out with him. Just because you’re not attracted to him is no reason to take it slow!” Attraction is a tricky thing, and I’d never hold it against someone if their preferred type isn’t [insert descriptor here]. (I happen not to like Alpha males.)

    I really think that unless someone is being completely rude about their preferences – forcing them on others, maintaining that their preference is actually the “best” way to look, eat, talk, whatever – we should just file it under “It takes all kinds” and move on.

  3. I write an advice column in the Boston Globe (allegedly on etiquette, but really on all kinds of social behavior). There are three groups of people whom, whenever I suggest treating them with respect, I get hate mail: Muslims, smokers, and fat people. It’s really a disturbing picture of the world … the overall response to this:

    “What overweight people wish everyone knew: They are aware of their appearance. They are as intelligent as anyone else. They are capable of love and sex and work. They have probably tried that new diet you just heard about. And if you think they have no self-discipline, pause a moment to think of the remarkable restraint they exercise given the cruelty and prejudice they face every day.”

    … was really hateful. The basic theme seemed to be “But if we treat fat people with dignity, they will have no motivation to lose weight, and will continue to BE FAT AT US!!”

    Sorry, this isn’t relevant to Prudie (I agree w/ your points above, Kate), but the intersection of fat & advice hit too close to home for me not to post. Love the blog!

  4. The basic theme seemed to be “But if we treat fat people with dignity, they will have no motivation to lose weight, and will continue to BE FAT AT US!!”

    Heh. No kidding.

    Oh, and ftr, Laura wrote this one, not me. I really need to figure out how to get our pics into posts. I probably wouldn’t have written the “Kate Harding Worshipers” line. :)

    Also, I have a post in draft form that starts off asking what Shapely readers ought to be called. Damn you, Laura!

    I think Prudie got it right, but she missed an opportunity to say something a ton of people need to hear, and which would be my whole answer to this: It is perfectly okay not to be attracted to someone, for any reason, and you should never try to talk yourself into an attraction you don’t feel. But what’s not okay? Is trying to change the other person so s/he’s more attractive to you. If you’re not attracted to them, go find someone you ARE attracted to, period.

  5. How about super wonderful ess ee ex ex wy readers?

    As a runner-up, I’ll accept Shapers ;-)

    I like her response.

    I think a large part of initial physical attraction is whether or not we think others may be attracted to that person. I know I’ve personally only noticed a man after my friends pointed out that they thought he was attractive OR after we’d spent some time together.

    Which makes me wonder, if, like women “need” permission to eat dessert, if we also need society’s permission to feel attracted to someone? I mean, we all already know we have permission to find Brad Pitt and George Clooney attractive…but maybe we feel like we need validation to be attracted to the cuddly teddy-bear of a man at the pharmacy?

  6. I really need to figure out how to get our pics into posts.

    I really need to figure out how to read bylines. Sorry about that.

    Yellowhammer, interesting point … I think needing permission to be attracted to someone is a bigger problem for men, but I’m sure women have it, too. I’ve been teased a lot because I’m attracted to some odd-looking guys, while the Pitts & Clooneys tend to leave me “meh.”

    PS I like “Shapelies.” Isn’t “Shapers” what a lot of corsetwear is called? Though as “Shapers of the Discourse and Culture,” it’s pretty empowering.

  7. I think the letter writer is attracted to this man, or she wouldn’t say she’s “enchanted” him and they have a “great connection” and she always looks forward to their time together. She’s afraid she’s not “completely” attracted to him because he’s overweight. I thought Pruie’s advice was very good. I found the entire column entertaining as well, her advice to the woman who has noisy, lusty neighbors cracked me up.

    I would suggest we call ourselves the “Hardenettes” or to be more gender neutral “Hardingites.”

  8. I also like Shapelies, but you do make an excellent point, Miss Conduct, about Shapers being interpretable (?) as Shapers of the Discourse…. Unfortunately, it initially made me think of a weightloss program (“Join Shapers today and lose a dress size by Thanksgiving!”).

    p.s. I’m a Miss Conduct fan :)

  9. I never found Brad Pitt attractive until he did “Friends” and “Ocean’s 11,” because he was FUNNY in those. As for George Clooney, when he gained 30 pounds for that film everyone was shocked, but all I could think was “Hello! He’s still George Clooney, people! Still hot.”
    I’ve been attracted to heavy guys, super-skinny guys, short, tall, long-haired, bald, etc. My husband is 4 inches shorter than I am. I think a person becomes more (or less) attractive the more you get to know them. I lived in Los Angeles for 9 years and was surrounded by “perfect” people, and, truthfully, it gets boring. Of course, being a less-than-“perfect” specimen myself, I may be a bit biased,lol!
    But I have to agree with Rose: I think that woman IS attracted to him, she just doesn’t know how to be attracted to someone who isn’t “ideal.”

  10. I think she got it right…romantic entanglements always just seem to fall into place, don’t they? She made the point that even if he wasn’t her “ideal fantasy” that her connection to him may grow into more, and she should just relax and let it either happen, or not happen.

    I’d be interested in hearing from normal-weighted men who fall for significantly overweight women, and what that experience is like. We are programmed to be used to and “accept” images of skinny women with fat guys (the “King of Queens” effect, I suppose), but rarely do we see the opposite, in real life (at least in my experience) or in pop culture (I think the only two examples I can come up with are Sally Struthers and her husband on “Gilmore Girls” and the awesome Patrika Darbo and her husband on “Days of Our Lives.” Not that I used to be obsessed with Days or anything. Ahem.)

    Sorry for the tangent, I think it’s just an interesting dynamic to think about, particularly when the woman is fat when the couple meets.

  11. I agree with Kate…if you’re not attracted to someone the way they are, move on and find someone who you are attracted to. Simple.

    I get the feeling that the letter writer IS attracted to him, but is just worried about what people will think, or about changing her perception of fat people. Also, she automatically assumes that he’s attracted to her…maybe he is, i don’t know the details…but wouldn’t it kick her in the teeth to discover that SHE’S not HIS type?

    In the past, I’ve gone on dates with guys who seemed to be really into me, then on the second or third date expressed displeasure with my fat…one guy busted out with, “oh yeah, you’re attractive but you COULD be thinner! You should totally consider eating less, it’s so easy blah blah.” I ALWAYS, without exception, dropped them like a fucking bad habit. Criticizing my wight is an instant deal breaker, no exceptions. (The aforementioned advice-giving guy still wanted to date me…he showed up at my work after two weeks of me not returning his calls. I told him exactly where to shove it.) I hate the assumption that just because I’m a fat girl, I should be grateful for any male attention. I also hate that attitude…you know the one…”I’m thin and she’s fat so OF COURSE she’s attracted to me.” Um, no. There are assloads of thin people who just DO NOT have a chance with me (single or no). It’s funny how shocked they are when they find this out.

    My BF has had similar experiences. He’s EXTREMELY attractive, but fat. Like, if he were thin, he could so be in GQ (I know, I’m biased..and there should be fat guys in GQ if you ask me, but anyway). So yeah, for example, there have been times when women (who would be considered “conventionally attractive”) attempted to get their way with him or whatever, or thought they could openly be a bitch to him and he’d tolerate it, and they’ve been fucking FLOORED when he’s told them them to get bent. And it shakes up their understanding of the laws of the universe…..”You mean…the fat guy won’t jump through hoops for me? But…I’m CUTE…and and..he’s…FAT…WTF *brain goes ZZZT*”

    Somebody out there will find that fat guy stunningly attractive just as he is. They won’t be “tolerant” of his weight, they’ll think he’s hot. He just has to hold out for that person, and I think the letter writer should let him find her, and just move on. There’s no reason to suffer through a relationship with somebody who wishes you were something you’re not.

  12. I think Prudie’s right on. At least, her advice accords with my personal experience, which involved being interested in my now-fiance for over a year before realizing I was attracted to him. In retrospect it’s clear that we were into each other, but neither of us thought the other one was our “type.” Societal fatphobia really gets inside your head, even if you don’t consider yourself a fatphobic person.

    People who object to FA often make a show of protecting their “right” not to be attracted to fat people (I think it’s a Bingo square), and of course nobody’s challenging anyone’s right to be attracted to whomever they want. But widespread fatphobia actually makes it difficult to realize you’re attracted to fat people even if you are! It may be that the letter-writer genuinely wasn’t attracted to the man with whom she was so “enchanted,” but it’s also quite possible that by “not attracted” she meant “can’t acknowledge that I’m attracted to him” or “don’t know how I feel about calling him my boyfriend” or even “can’t imagine him naked” (because of course most of the images we get of people in sexy situations are thin people). It takes time to get over that, or decide that you even want to get over it.

    Meowser, do you read Carolyn Hax? She’s the likelist advice columnist to give equivalent advice to a man. I’m almost 100% sure I’ve seen her do it, in fact.

    I’ve used “Shapelers,” because I think either you or Kate used it one time. I kind of like it. But “commentariat” also works just fine for me. How about just “fatties”? :)

  13. Oooh. I like prosies, Roberta! Shapers does seem like something that they are selling to “control” the wayward tummy and lift up the arse.

    A good friend of mine, who is pretty lonely and wants to fall in love, is in super good shape, rock climbs, etc. told me about being in bed, I swear, in bed, with a fat woman who he really liked hanging out with. He found it hard getting into it and told her IN BED, that he must just be into skinny chicks.

  14. FYI- I used to climb and hike with this guy a few times a week. And a couple of weeks ago he was visiting me, right when I found this blog, and made some comment about fat people sitting on their asses and eating McDonalds. Like he doesn’t notice that I am fat and rock climbed and backpacked with him…I must just be sitting on my ass….

  15. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that people’s attitudes towards partners and their attitudes towards clothes are exactly opposite and both wrong. Most people’s attitudes seem to be that partners have to be altered to your preferences, but you have to shrink your body to fit into clothes. Really, of course, partners have to be accepted at the size they are, though you can sometimes discover that it’s easy to alter your preferences to fit them. Clothes can always be taken in or bought in a bigger size; whole industries exist to make them your size instead of vice versa.

  16. I cringe when I see people in a relationship with someone they’re not really attracted to “because they’re such a great person in every other way”. Unfortunately sometimes you can’t know for sure whether you could be attracted to the person until you *have* reached a certain level of depth in the relationship. At one time there was a man I thought was a wonderful person but I wasn’t attracted to him. Friends kept saying that we would be good together, but I completely dismissed the idea because he wasn’t physically “my type” — about as far away from it as you could get, actually. What I hadn’t counted on — because I hadn’t experienced it yet — was that there’s another form of attraction that is entirely primal, and that the primal can completely overwrite and transform the more superficial conditioned preferences. I ended up falling madly in love with him, and four children and twelve years later I can hardly keep my hands off him.

  17. @ Kristin:

    Wow, dude. I HATE that McDonalds comment. Fat people eat McDonalds. Is that a bingo square? Cause if it’s not, it should be.

    See, your friend is being ignorant because people select the information that they want to acknowledge. Even though he SAW you being active and rock climbing and all that, his brain didn’t want to take in any information that conflicts with his world view, i.e. fat=lazy. That’s what humans do, unfortunately. And I think it sucks, bigtime.

  18. Mel- It is pretty ridiculous. My friend is a very active guy, but recently broke up with his skinny girlfriend (also a bf of mine) because she never wanted to do anything. I struggle between thinking that if he could loosen his standards he might be happy, and maybe there really is some sort of un-changeable attraction factor. Someone earlier in this post said that people are attracted to who they are attracted to, and we shouldn’t try to change that. I’m not sure I agree…

  19. I’m with Fillyjonk here: I knew my husband for two years before either of us realized we were attracted to each other (for the record, it was when he stopped being my supervisor that it clicked for us). But even after that, I thought he was kind of funny looking. I still kind of do. Heck, who isn’t in some way? But we’ve been together for eleven years now, married for most of those, and we’re incredibly happy together.

    The way Weighed Down writes about her obvious attraction to this fellow sounds an awful lot like the attraction I experienced in the dating stage with my husband. The physical attraction developed out of that powerful connection. It’s not a model for relationship development that you see often, especially not in popular culture, but it’s, in my experience, very stable and much richer than when relationships develop the other way around.

    I like Prudence’s advice for a couple of reasons: I think the standard model of relationship development is way too fast and way too intellectualized anyway, and she’s essentially advising Weighed Down not to get ahead of things or second-guess them — just to let things develop, or not, at their own pace. But I also like that she’s neither saying to or not to fight her lack of physical attraction to this guy. I like that because I think physical attraction *is* important, but isn’t everything and doesn’t need to be instant or even total or constant. It’s hard to tell from her letter whether Weighed Down’s lack of physical attraction is something that will or even could change, or if it comes from prejudice, habit, or just her own personal taste. Really, the only way to tell is through time.

    For the record, my husband’s skinny, and I’m fat.

  20. I think attraction is mysterious, and you never know who you’re going to be attracted to. You can have a strict preference, and then one day, someone who is the type you said you’d NEVER date comes along and knocks your socks (and pants) off.

    Hey, it happens all the time.

  21. I agree that: “If you/theyjust stopped eating at McDonalds” or “If you/they just cut back on the Big Macs” should be a Bingo square.

    I think it was a good answer. No, you don’t have to be attracted to anybody you don’t want to, and you shouldn’t try to force it. But at the same time, there’s more to being attracted to someone than having them be your physical “type”. You may look at somebody and not find them attractive immediately because they don’t fit your type, but get to know them and feel other kinds of attraction spill into the physical. My fiance wasn’t really my type (physically) when I first met him (too fair and baby faced). Looks wise he kind of fell into the “okay I guess” category. But then I got to know him, and now I think he’s gorgeous. To the point where the image of him in my head from our first meeting and what I see when I look at him don’t match up, somehow. That could happen with the woman in the advice column too, and it would be a shame if she missed out on that because she dismissed him out of hand for not being her type.

  22. Hm. I have to say I’m pretty satisfied with the advice, although I echo the sentiment that the woman should not force herself to like someone if it just isn’t there. But I also feel that time will be the ultimate judge of if it will work.

    And I vote for the term Shapelies, only because it looks so good with my name…I’d be the Shapelie FashionableNerd! :-D

  23. I’ve only just found this blog, and I wouldn’t normally comment, but this whole situation reminded me of my aunt and uncle.

    Neither of them are very overweight (aunt is a size 12, he’s slightly smaller), but they had a similar relationship. They were friends, they hung out, they did all kinds of things together, and they thought that was it. Three years later, and they finally realized they were falling for each other. TEN years after meeting, they got married. They’ve been married for 6 years, and I can see them spending many more happy years together. Was my uncle my aunt’s normal “type?” Nope. My aunt had gone for clean-cut professional types, and my uncle has hair down to his ankles (seriously) and looks a bit like Grizzly Adams. But they are head-over-heels in love with each other.

    Regardless of a person’s physical characteristics, sometimes they don’t fall in the “my type” category. But sometimes they’re THE best person for you.

    As one of the first responders said, I find myself being attracted to some of the more unconventional types. My absolute dream man? Meat Loaf. Yes, Meat Loaf. My high school sweetheart was 5’10” and at least 250 lbs. But to me, he was gorgeous. My friends didn’t understand the attraction – but they didn’t question for a minute his attraction to me. And I was weighing in at 200 myself!

    I personally thought the advice given was spot-on. I was kind of afraid I was going to read something along the lines of “of course you’re not attracted to him… after all, he’s FAT!” I’m glad I was wrong.

  24. My absolute dream man? Meat Loaf.

    I was just watching A Bit of Fry and Laurie and thinking “man, without Stephen Fry and Jack Black (in his Mr. Show guest gigs, not subsequently), I might never have realized that big guys could be sexy.”

  25. People don’t seem to understand that weight is not a static thing when they’re looking for a boy/girlfriend. My brother-in-law is adamant: he will never date a girl over 120 pounds, ever. That is the weight he specifies.

    But what happens when if (unfortunately for the poor, 110 pound girl) they get married? Will he divorce her when her metabolism changes and she gains 20 or so pounds? Will his love for her mind (which presumably he respected, if he married her) override his love for a body type? What if she has kids? This makes me feel really sorry for him. If he doesn’t learn to be a better person and understand that some things are more important than visible collarbones, he’ll be really sad or disappointed later in life.

    In other thoughts, what happened to Sarah (the triathlete)? I swam 250 meters today, and biked 19, and I was WIPED OUT. I had planned to run, but I couldn’t. I wanted to swing by her blog to give her some serious props for doing what she does and it’s password protected. I hope she’s OK and that no assholes had been harrassing her.

    Sarah, you are great! Thanks for inspiring me to do this. Reading your blog made me decide to start training for a triathlon. I love reading your race diaries and hearing what you have to say. Rock on!

  26. I always am/feel so late on these posts. Grrrr @ life’s other demands.

    However, I think what fillyjonk just said is really interesting. Perhaps if more fat people were allowed weight (pun intended) in the entertainment industry we might 1) be more human to the masses and 2) people would realize we are just as fabulous and sexy as anyone else!

  27. My boyfriend and I met 3 years prior to when we got together. We dated a couple times, I realized that I just wasn’t interested, and we moved on. I introduced him to my gang of friends, he clicked, and he became a part of it.

    2 years ago, we were at a pub having drinks on my birthday with friends and he asked me out. Attraction can definitely change. And yes- I am fat and he is skinny.

    I like Shapelies too, because I feel like it is a compliment. No matter what the shape, we are all shapely.

  28. I agree with Mel and others above – attraction is a very mysterious thing that I really don’t understand. If you lined up all the guys I’ve dated, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything in common – tall guys, short guys, skinny ex-jockeys, 300-lb guys, asian, latin, european, american. In the last few years I’d come to see my ‘type’ as someone from another culture or part of the world (typically east asian or latino), someone different, and typically someone a bit edgy, a life-of-the-party type. Yet my current boyfriend, who I’m madly in love with and think is “the one”, is the complete opposite – total white-bread southern boy, blond, fair-skinned, a bit overweight, and terribly shy at first. When we first met, I thought he was a great guy, but I never thought I could be attracted to or be in a relationship with him. But ~6 months later, I woke up and realized what a wonderful guy he was, and here we are, a year+ later.

    On the other hand, prior to him, I’d dated who I thought, on paper, was my “type” – very intelligent, highly educated, outgoing, sexy latino. I should have taken the hint when he talked nonstop about his super-sexy Brazilian ex-gfs. The first time we were in bed, he told me – twice! – that I needed to lose weight! grrrr….that was the end of that! That guy is another story – mid-30s, attractive, intelligent, successful (though obviously rather self-absorbed and a jerk), but still single. He will only date – at least over the long run – absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, model-like women. A part of me thinks – like kristin said earlier – he’d be happier if he’d broaden his options, but to each their own; you can’t change people’s perceptions…

    Anyway, great post – I love your work, Kate, and Laura!

  29. “Shaplies,” definitely.

    And what Mel said about that young lady probably actually being attracted to the man but being worried about being judged.

  30. As for George Clooney, when he gained 30 pounds for that film everyone was shocked, but all I could think was “Hello! He’s still George Clooney, people! Still hot.”

    I’ve done two stories now on Nick Clooney, George’s dad. Nick is a popular former radio man and broadcaster around Cincinnati, and traveled with George to Darfur a couple years ago. He now goes round making presentations to various organizations to garner support for the cause.

    While of course I wrote the stories for other reasons than the fact that Nick is George’s father, I still couldn’t help from thinking that I was talking to and standing within half an arm’s length of one half of George Clooney’s DNA.

    As for the advice, I felt it was right on. I’ve never been attracted to tall, skinny guys so when I met my husband who was so skinny his ribs showed, I didn’t think it’d work out. Surprise.

  31. It is never a mistake to hang out and see how initial attractions work out. My husband has somehow, without changing in any identifiable way, gone from being a reasonably decent-looking guy when I first met him to being the most incredibly sexy, handsome man in the whole world. And, contrariwise, a formerly handsome guy in my office got really physically unattractive when I discovered he was really kind of a jerk. I couldn’t have decided to be attracted or not attracted to either of them — and I have certainly, despite my best efforts, failed to find any attraction to some darling men who were drawn to me — but the mind does some wonderful things on its own.

  32. Add me to the fat-girl-with-skinny-boyfriend club. Not only skinny but actually 1/4 inch shorter than me too.

    Mike’s never once made me feel like he’d find me more attractive if I were thinner, which is incredible and a great boost when I feel like *I’d* find me more attractive if I were thinner.

  33. Eh, I’d hold out on saying she’s attracted to him. I’ve had great friendships that had potential for romantic love, but I didn’t feel any sort of physical spark. I do like the advice to take it slow and see what happens.

    On the subject of names, I’d like to be one of the Shapelies. Shapers does sound like an awful gym name, like a Curves but they make you wear corsettry while you work out.

  34. This is funny, a friend of mine asked me almost the same a few weeks ago, I was going to blog about it. I told her basically the same as the column lady did. I really understand that she’s insecure about it.

    I’d be, and I am fat. I must admit I’ve never been with a fat, or even average looking, man. I always had an attractive guy by my side, no matter how stupid or obnoxious, to make me attractive by association. Because, god, what would my mother think of me if I ended up with nothing better than just a fat guy.

    My friend, on the other hand, is a super cute, blonde ex cheerleader, and doesn’t need that kind of affirmation. Three days ago, they finally kissed. Awwwww.

  35. Like withoutscene, I had life intrude on internet time, so I’m feeling very late, but:
    #1 choice – Prosies
    #2 choice – Kate Hardingists
    #3 choice – Shapelies

    I liked the advice. I liked how it wasn’t specific to the guy’s weight — really, there are other things about a partner (some of these have been mentioned) that might keep someone from “proceeding,” and I think taking it slow is the right approach.
    From the guy’s perspective, I would think this is the advice he would want to have her receive, as well.
    Way, way long ago, before I was married (I got married super young for a person of my demographic – just turned 23), I usually found myself in the position of having a crush on someone who was enamored of me but not attracted to me. I think attraction is truly important, but so is the “enamored” part. I also think that sexual compatibility is an important component of a long-lasting and fun relationship. So if the sex isn’t going to be rewarding, there’s not much point to it, if sex is something you want to have as part of your life.
    Wow, that’s way more blunt than I meant it to be. And not likely to be popular with those who oppose sex before marriage! Then again, I am squarely in favor of (safe, ideally monogamous) sex before, during, and after marriage. (Wait, that made it sound like sex would be had during the ceremony — not what I intended).

  36. Re: the name thing, not shapers, definite hint of control-top panties there. I’d be a hardingist, myself. Sounds like something you’d call a 19th-century political faction that was always raising a ruckus in the British parliament. Although k8ers is cute, makes me think of katerade, like, “God, I finally have a few minutes to get online and get me a long, cool drink of katerade!”

    Re: thin/average boy with fattie girl, that’d be me. After being with my delicious butterball of a girlfriend for 9 years, I had been a little nervous about getting out into the straight dating pool. I’d heard stories about dickhead guys, and wasn’t sure how to “spin” my fat, or if I even should. Eventually, my craigslist “casual encounter” header went with “Poly, Pierced, and Plush”, followed by a short, sweet, and very to-the-point ad (that a friend helped me write) that did NOT specify physical aspects, only the mental and sexual ones. I didn’t know if male physical types were interesting to me, but I knew what I wanted in the other areas… Here it is…

    Fierce, articulate bi-dyke with big t!ts seeks caring, confident man who won’t bore me. We both make conscious choices about our atypical sex lives.

    No photo, no request for photos. That was it. I got a metric shit-ton of standard responses–full-frontal photos, CL AnswerMat(tm) replies, a few misogynist ones like “you need to be taken down a notch, and I’m the one to do it”–and one answer that read between the lines and started the dialogue. After some fast-n-furious emailing (that rapidly spiraled into lavishly written pr0n), and eventually an exchange of head shots, we met a month later and couldn’t get to the hotel fast enough. The next day, he commented that our encounter exceeded his expectations by orders of magnitude. (‘Cuz he’s a big geek like that.) We kept hooking up, and eventually called it dating, and did that for almost 4 years, and then got hitched two years ago. (a totally failed casual encounter, that!)

    The relevant point here is that I didn’t have any body expectations. Like, none. I had been away from men for too long. And S., like me, was simply looking for an intellectually satisfying fuck. He turned out to be 8 inches (!) shorter than me, and close to half my size. He’s also South Asian, to my buxom blondness. When we go out together and hold hands, we get a LOT of looks, but since we’re never sure if people are admiring our love or hating on the fat-thin fabulousness, we just ignore it.

    S. mentioned, early on in the relationship, that I wasn’t his typical “preferred morph”, and although that hurt a little, we talked about it and I let it go, because I had to admit that there weren’t very many fatties out there like me, so how could one develop a taste for something that wasn’t, you know, widely available? ; -)

    And he has LONG since amended his stance to be “YOU’RE my type”, the whole tasty Marina package. He started out looking for the smart casual encounter, wound up with a smart fattie and was a little bit surprised to be attracted to me. I’m so glad he was his own man enough to stick out any societal scorn, because over time he’s developed a strong preference for the way _I_ look.

    He regularly says I’m the most beautiful girl in the world, which from a conventional standpoint isn’t true. But the emotional truth–I am the most beautiful girl in the world TO HIM–is more real, more important, and much more fun.

  37. Another fat girl with a skinny guy here =) Mike prefers his girls a little bigger… I might’ve gained enough weight since we started dating to push past what he normally prefers, but he still thinks I’m gorgeous. Which helps so, so much when I’m feeling down on myself.

  38. I find that I have certain qualities that I require in a guy before I allow myself to be attracted to them. I mean, I know that I’m totally attracted to ripped guys, (We had a double feature this weekend, Troy (Brad Pitt & Orlando Bloom in Togas YUM) and Lucky Number Slevin (I’ll take Josh Hartnett in a towel for 1000 Alex.)) So anyway, yeah, I’m really attracted to ripped guys in film, in real life I always date big cuddly guys.

    I don’t really know if that is me just censoring to avoid the inevitable rejection, or if it really is a preference.

  39. I call it the Jack Sprat Syndrome: skinny boys and squishy girls just seem to get along very well physically, don’t they? (And by “they,” I mean “me and my slender sweetie too.”) I’ve got a theory that it has to do with the sexual dimorphism at the heart of heterosexuality, but I could just be talking out my well-padded ass. Glad to see all the stories of “not-my-type-but-perfect-for-me” love out there.

  40. I myself am attracted to different physical types, though I must admit that the major hotties of our society (the Pitts & Clooneys) are never really at the top of my list. It isn’t that I don’t find them attractive…it’s just that nothing about them tends to stand out for me.

    Things like this though definitely factor in my thoughts when it comes to the idea of dating. I can’t quite handle the jerkiest of jerks and it seems that if you’re a fat girl, you are going to come across them; there’s no avoiding it.

  41. Can I just say that I loved what fillyjonk had to say about the attitudes about partners and clothing both being wrong? I print out things that inspire / encourage / enrage me on my labelwriter, and put them up on a cork board in my cube at work. This just made it to the board. :)

    BTW, I like Hardingistas (or maybe w/o the g, Hardinistas).

  42. I came back to read the responses after mine and realized that I should have mentioned that my hubby of 8 years is almost half my size. Taller than me, but I weigh nearly 100 lbs more than he does. Has he EVER said anything about my weight? Nope – not unless I’ve been trying really hard to lose it, and then he encourages me. I was worried about meeting him in person at first (we met in the internet), but one of the first things he said to me was “you’re beautiful.”

    Did I really think I’d be his type? Not

  43. I like Hardingista or Hardinista best of all.

    Shaplies or Shapers really does sound like a brand of low fat yogurt sold here in the UK!

  44. Ok, a bit off the point here, but everybody keeps talking about George Clooney…My dream man is Philip Seymour Hoffman. My partner and I have “get out of jail free cards” for one person each. He has Kate Winslet (who he wishes would gain some fricking WEIGHT back, already) and mine is Philip.

    Isn’t there anyone else out there who drools over Philip? I haven’t found anyone yet…

  45. Back to attraction (although I do count myself among the Kate Harding Worshippers), I once dated a guy who was about 5’5″ and skinny, so he was shorter than me and weighed less. He was so great, but I couldn’t get over the height thing. Sometimes it is just like that. Of course, I prefer my men bigger, so that might have been part of the problem. I have turned my ultra skinny husband into borderline overweight – and I find him so much more attractive with the weight. Unfortunately, it is so hard to train our minds to find people who are outside our comfort zone attractive. I like tall, beefy men, so a sweet, skinny short guy comes along, I date him for a few weeks, think he is great but just can’t get over attraction. I like Prudence’s advice. Keep hanging out and see if attraction grows. I don’t think my husband is in to my type, but he got over it once he got to know me.

  46. FWIW, my (skinny) BF never explicitly refused dating anyone who was thin, but he admits preferring the feel of someone well-padded next to him, partly because he doesn’t have much padding himself, and someone as bony as he is might feel uncomfortable against him. BUT…he admits that chemistry is a sometimes difficult thing to pin down, and he wouldn’t rule anything out.

    I think that’s the take-away lesson here. You can’t fake chemistry, or talk yourself into it based on whether someone has qualities “on paper” that you want, but at the same time you can’t talk yourself out of it just because you think it “shouldn’t” be there. There are probably a couple of thousand men in PDX who superficially resemble C., but he’s the one who makes my tail wag, not them.

  47. I definitely agree with Prudie’s advice. The better you know somebody, the better they look, is what my mom told me when I was just first getting into boys.

    And on the subject of boyfriends…

    Me and mine have been together for three years as of nine days ago, and while he’s not skinny, and has a definite tummy, nobody would ever call him fat. I think “solid” is the word I’ve heard most often.

    Anyways, for the first year or so, I was always very uncomfortable with my body, because well, I’m fat. And a teenager (at the time). And the only person on earth more insecure about themselves than a teenager is a fat teenager.

    So I could never understand why it is that he’d play with my stomach. (He’d play with my other larger parts too *ahem* but…)

    I asked him why, one time, after about ten minutes. And you know what he said?

    “Because I like it. I think its sexy, and it turns me on.”

    I was dumbfounded. Not only was he ok with my body, but he was FRIGGIN TURNED ON by the (in my mind) ugliest part of it!

    Of course, he had told me before that he thought I was beautiful, and that *I* was his type, physically, but I had always just dismissed it as him sweet-talking me for whatever reason. I sometimes wonder why we’re so quick to retain and believe the criticism from our loved ones, but not the compliments.

    But anyways, I’ve struck gold! Three years strong, and many more to come!

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