Here's a place to talk about the relationships in your life whenever you want.
My ex-boyfriend got kinda fat, and I am pretty thrilled about it.
Some context: My ex-boyfriend, and I quote, “hates fatties.” And there was a point, namely the end, in our relationship when I was kinda fat, too.
Fatter people might argue with me about whether either of us have ever really been “kinda fat.” I’m not interested in that conversation because the point is, there’s simply more body fat and less muscle definition on him and on me than there were a few years ago. And it was this relationship that led me to believe for the first time that I was a fat chick, and that that was a bad thing.
Back in college, when my metabolism slowed, like a person’s is wont to do, I started to gain weight. It climbed steadily over those four years. Previously I had been quite thin, and I told myself, “Well, I could stand to gain a few pounds.” No big deal.
I had a roommate who was a big gym enthusiast and one night, after noticing my jeans were just a little snug, I decided to accompany her to the campus gym. I hadn’t exercised since like, the 8th grade, but I sort of didn’t want to have to buy new jeans. So I went. On the endorphin high over post-workout Chipotle afterward, I decided I would be one of those People who Work Out.
Exercising regularly did nothing for my weight (I was still eating crap and I did have to buy new jeans), but wonders for my day-to-day happiness. I was the most upbeat, positive and optimistic I’d ever been. I was even described as easygoing. I’d never been described as easygoing! I no longer cared that I had gone from a size 4 to a size 10. I was happy.
Around this delightful period of my life, I started dating a guy who was nuts about everything about me. Which was great!
But when I would tell him I was planning on hitting the gym that day, he’d ask “Why?!”
I’d say, “It makes me feel good.” He’d say, “Just don’t lose your curves.”
Um, OK, Master.
This is about the time I started perceiving there to be a very thin margin for how much a woman should weigh. Not too fat, but not too thin, Goldilocks.
When college ended, I started working full time, volunteering at an animal shelter, and taking an extra community college class out of pure interest. I no longer had time to make daily visits to my hometown gym a priority like I had my campus gym. Plus, I wasn’t trying to lose weight, right? My boyfriend liked my curves, right?
Did I mention this boyfriend was a fitness freak? In part, his job required him to be in shape. Also, he said to me, “I want to be sexy for you.”
Aw, how sweet!
…Wait, why would I be dating you if you weren’t already sexy to me?
…Wait, does that mean I might not already be sexy to you?
So while I had a 40-hour per week desk job, and my boyfriend worked out every day, I got fleshier and he got fitter. My jaw line grew less defined. My upper arms inflated. My belly protruded. I regularly had to size up in my jeans.
He’d report to me, laughing, about women hitting on him in bars. He’d send pictures of his sculpted abs. I began to panic.
I quit volunteering at the animal shelter and I made time for the gym. (That’s right, I abandoned homeless kittens to try to get skinny. Fat negativity hurts us all, even kittens.) After all, it was only the “equal partners” thing to do, right? He cared so much about looking good for me, I should care that much too, right?
So I started caring. A lot. I went back to the gym, and after every workout, I told him about it. I’m trying! I was letting him know, I’m trying to “be sexy for you!” But exercising wasn’t fun anymore. I needed results, not just endorphins, and I needed them yesterday.
And here’s the kicker.
When I told him I worried I was fat, his genius response?
“You know you’re not fat, because I hate fatties.”
Now, I think this came from a place of good intentions, or at least humor. And I don’t think, consciously, the man actually hated or hates fatties. Subconsciously, however, I’d argue there might be a little bit of fatty hatred in there somewhere.
After all, he regularly complained about the laziness of a member of his family who happened to be very overweight. And he did regularly make smirking comments about one of his best male friend’s inability to attract women because he was “awkward-looking” (read: fatter than the rest of his male friends). And he always pointed out whenever someone we knew had gained noticeable weight or could stand to lose some.
Good, or simply primitive, intentions or not, THIS IS NOT HOW YOU MAKE YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER FEEL BETTER ABOUT HER WEIGHT GAIN. Now not only am I worried I might be less sexy, but you might also hate me?!
Plus! Please, ex-boyfriend, do tell: What is the difference between “curves” and “fat”? Which fat cells am I supposed to lose, O Hater of Fatties, O Lover of Curves?
Yes, he was joking, on some surface level. But when I expressed insecurity about my weight prior to this oh-so-eloquent response, I had not been joking.
When that didn’t quell my anxieties (duh), he suggested a new approach. “If you’re not happy with something about yourself, change it.” And he even offered to help me change it. Change being fat. Fix me, if you will.
So he started helping me workout, like a running partner or a personal trainer.
Ladies (and gentlemen), maybe don’t let your partner become your personal trainer. This is fraught with problems.
I didn’t lose any weight. And, long after we’ve broken up, I still haven’t lost any weight, except the dead weight of a fat-fearing significant other.
To his credit, early on, he said, “I don’t think you’re fat.” Later, “I don’t think you’re fat” slowly slid away.
But why do we even make this the reassuring chorus? So what if I was getting fat?
It’s probably harder to say to your girlfriend who’s legitimately gaining weight, "Sure, you’re bigger. Hey, what episode of ‘30 Rock’ are we on?” But doesn’t hushing or denying a reality create that much more of a stigma?
So later, as our relationship crumbled, I couldn’t help but hear the echo in my head: “You know you’re not fat, because I hate fatties.” Was I a fatty? Did he hate me? Is that why our sex life had died and he treated me more like a piece of furniture in the room?
Probably not. But this fear sure didn’t help my ability to see our problems clearly.
When we finally broke up, I happened to be heavier than ever.
And then, just months after our several years long relationship came to an end, he got a girlfriend who appeared to sport about half my waistline. Ouch.
And then he got some man boobs and a beer gut.
If I may, ahem: LOL.
There is nothing wrong with gaining weight. What’s wrong is trivializing your significant other’s worries, letting another person’s weight inform you of their personal character, however subconsciously, and “hating,” even jokingly, fat people.
So it is NOT because I hate fat people that I delight in your weight gain, oh dear, dear ex-boyfriend who previously boasted six-pack abs and impressive biceps. It is not because you’ve lost your Ken doll physique that I snicker when I see recent pictures of you.
It is because you have become that which you continually degraded, the very thing you “hated,” that I smile. Karma is a sweet, fat-positive bitch, and a hell of a teacher.