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Does Your Pant Size Determine The Amount of Love You Get?

Aug 17, 2007
Do your feelings about your weight affect your relationship? A good friend felt down and depressed recently because she had just about had enough of her boyfriend's negative comments about her weight. Even though she works out constantly and goes on every fad diet, she never feels happy with herself or her man.

He never really complements her. In fact, he actually told her: "I do not say anything positive about how good you look for fear you will revert back to your normal [in other words, fat] self." Her mood goes up and down constantly, depending on what he thinks about her looks. When she is away from him and with other friends she feels pretty good about herself. It surprises her that she allows him to affect her mood so strongly, and to determine what she thinks about herself.

When she is really honest with herself, she admits that she will not be happy with herself until she tells him to take a flying leap.

This is a common theme for many women with a poor self-image. For these women, the anxiety begins early. Their weight becomes the most important factor that determines whether they are lovable. They see ads showing young, thin, beautiful women being loved by thin, handsome, athletic men. The unmistakable message is: If you want to be loved you must stay young and beautiful, and your weight is a measure of how much love you will get!

Do you have any feelings like this? If you say, "No, for sure I am comfortable in my own skin and my lover loves the skin I am in," then you are part of a fortunate minority.

If you do have some bad feelings about these issues, it's time to stop and re-evaluate. Here are some questions that will help you assess your self-image, the value you place on yourself as a woman and as a human being, and the role your weight plays in your current relationship.

1. Does your weight determine your level of intimacy with your lover?

2. Do you often hide your feelings of rejection when your significant other mentions your weight?

3. Has another member of your family had an eating disorder or some other type of weight problem?

4. Do you often feel uncomfortable eating around your significant other for fear he will judge you?

5. Are you happy with your weight? And if not, are you happy with yourself regardless of your weight?

Body image disorders are common in young women who often develop anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Both of these serious eating disorders can kill young women if not treated properly.

But body image problems do not only affect the young. Women of all ages may have long histories of the same disorders. These disorders cause the woman to have a distorted body image and no matter how much weight she loses, she still sees herself as too fat. She does not like the way she looks and feels compelled to lose more weight. She may binge, vomit, use laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, and just plain starve herself. None of these methods reduce her levels of anxiety and depression. The only effective solution is to find professional help. She has a body distortion problem and what needs to be fixed is inside. She needs to learn to love herself.

Many women with body dysmorphic disorders find spouses and partners who can confirm their feelings of inadequacy. The partners often have body image problems of their own. My friend's boyfriend has an obese mother who embarrasses him. He tried repeatedly to get his mother to lose weight. But instead, she continued to gain so much weight that she refused to leave the house.

He said he would never live with a woman who was as fat as his mother and lived such a sad and lonely life. Unfortunately, he now worried that any woman he became close to would become fat like his mother.

To learn more about body image problems, visit the Consumer Help Center at the American Psychological Association. Or search the Internet by keywords anorexia nervosa, bulimia or eating disorders.

Most importantly, take time to heal and take time to love yourself. Do not let your weight or your partner's attitudes influence your self-image or the love you feel for yourself.

Look at yourself today and know how really special you are as a woman and as a person. Focus on your talents, and remember: You are more than a number on a label inside your pants!
About the Author
Clinical psychologist Nancy D. O'Reilly, PsyD, has worked with women for more than 25 years. She founded the WomenSpeak Project to offer a supportive atmosphere for growing older in our society that does not support aging. Access ongoing research, e-newsletters, a free online consulting service, and resources about Health and Wellness, Relationships, Finances and Aging itself at http://www.WomenSpeak.com.
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