We’re afraid our stomachs pooch or jiggle too much, our butts are too big, our breasts are too saggy, or not the right size (or not the same size…)
Most women are insecure about their bodies, whether we’re overweight, underweight or damned near perfect.
We obsess about our shortcomings with excruciating detail. We worry that a man who has sprung for nine dinners, put the charm on full blast and worked so hard for the last 17 days to get our clothes off will invariably be disappointed and wish we’d put them back on when faced with our naked reality — minus the push-up bra and super-duper spandex tummy tourniquet.
So we leave the lights off. Hide under the covers. Avoid certain positions because of the “jiggle factor.”
Instead of trusting he’ll find desire in the midst of our cellulite, our extra flesh, our imperfections, we hope the darkness will camouflage our flaws and leave him with the slimmer visual image we attempted to project when we encase our insecurities in lycra and industrial-strength undergarments.
And for every woman who is having nookie noir, there are lots of others who are subsisting on carrot curls, Lean Cuisines and never-ending bouts with an elliptical machine, feeling like they won’t be eligible for the grand prize of happiness, true love or the really good deals on designer handbags until they hit their target weight.
As usual, we are hardest on ourselves.
One female dater says, “I’m a size 12 woman in the dating pool and I do think the majority of men are looking for smaller, perfect women to date. The challenge is, quite frankly, that there are even fewer men who could meet the same standards; so why should women starve themselves, work out religiously and get plastic surgery when men won’t go to the same lengths? (Why should either sex need to go to extremes? – Ed) Once a man does give a women who is size 12 or larger a chance, the man is usually happy with the way a woman looks.
It is getting past that initial first impression and expectation that is very difficult to overcome.”
Who among us hasn’t felt certain at one time or another that our lives would surely improve significantly if only we could lose that 20 pounds and slip into a pair of size six jeans?
Plus-size models usually wear a size 12. Yet the average North American woman wears a size 14. That’s according to both the U.S. Council on Size & Weight Discrimination (“The average American woman is 5’4″, weighs 140 lbs., and wears a size 14 dress”) and Statistics Canada, which pegs roughly 30 per cent of the female population as wearing a size 14 and up.
Does it strike anyone else as strange that our “plus size” models are smaller than our real people?
Jennifer Weiner, the best-selling author of Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and most recently, The Guy Not Taken says, “There are very few representations in the media of ‘everywoman.’ We are living in the age of the incredible shrinking starlet (think Mary-Kate Olsen, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie.)
With all these bony little actresses, if you’re a size 12 (or bigger) you have no one representing you in the media. Ugly Betty is maybe a size 10.
“There’s not a lot of diversity — it worries me as a woman, as a mother — not having larger women [in the media] that are leading lives that include things other than dieting and despair.”
My mom, the director of a nonprofit child development center, is constantly on the lookout for African, Hispanic and Asian baby dolls. She explains how important it is for self-esteem for kids to have toys and icons that look like them. If they don’t, kids can grow up believing the way they look is wrong. And I often wonder if the next generation will grow up without any clue about what real breasts look like. If anemic, rich, blonde and busty is the standard we hold ourselves to, how can any of us feel good about how we look? Has fake become the new real?
Weiner’s novels feature heroines who are real, genuine, wise-cracking, intelligent, likeable, desirable, capable, and, in her words, “big girls.” They are the women I’d choose as my friends. And whether you believe it or not, they are the women men choose as their girlfriends.
One male dater, Anthony, says, “I really think that women are concerned about their bodies way more than men. Guys know that the perfect body does not exist, and the pictures in the magazines have been altered from hair color, neckline, skin-tone, to weight. I have never met a woman who was “less” attractive once the clothes came off.”
According to another, Harry, “If there is a little fat, so what? It’s the inside that counts. As for my girlfriend — yes she is very concerned about her weight. I think it involves more her ego than anything else. Although, I try to reassure her that I think she is beautiful. Size does not matter to me.
Having a good head on your shoulders, a good heart, and a great pair of lips is what I look for in a woman.”
Philip says, “What it all hinges on, regardless of weight (attraction isn’t on a sliding scale), is whether I’m inspired by her, surprised by her charm. If she could be my muse. To love this way, and be loved the same way in return, is something everyone should experience. Once you get this far, what they look like, clothes off, seems entirely trivial.”
Here’s a newsflash, ladies: Guys aren’t settling for fat-dumpy-imperfect ol’ you because they can’t score the stick-thin supermodels. They. Don’t. Care.
One dater, Katherine, says, “As a size 12 woman who is 5’9, I am in no way challenged in dating or slighted by my body. I look normal, slightly athletic, would allow that I’m fairly attractive. I’m in no way a stick thin model, but neither am I grotesquely obese or even largely overweight. I’ve had many boyfriends ask me why I stress so much about trying to fit into even smaller jeans, because to them it doesn’t make any sense.”
Weiner says, “A lot of it is attitude. Men think, we don’t care if you’re not perfect — we just want to see you naked either way. Men have their own insecurities: about their looks, how much money they’re making. If you’re feeling good about where you are — if you’re happy, confident, you’ll have a better shot at meeting someone.
And that’s true for big girls and skinny girls.”