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Thinness and Lovability

If you believe you must be thin to be lovable, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. Two interesting things happened during a recent afternoon which prove my point. First, there I was on the supermarket checkout line gawking at trashy magazine headlines and photos of unhappy looking, but thinner than thin, celebrities. Some of these sad souls were being ditched because their spouses or partners had found someone new, while others were being abandoned because their lovers had had enough of their nasty dispositions, bizarre behavior, or running around.

Second, later that day, I was thumbing through a Sarasota magazine and saw this positively glowing overweight couple on the wedding announcement page. Although the groom was bit pudgy in his suit and the bride was definitely chunky in her white wedding dress, what stood out was that they were beaming and obviously gaga in love. I was so thrilled to have found this couple that I clipped the page out of the magazine and keep it on hand to whip out every time an overweight client insists that no one could possibly ever in a million years love her/him in her/his present fat state.

I often tell clients who despair of their large size to visit a mall and check out the overweight couples. Clients usually return insisting that there was no such couple to be found and that I must shop at a different mall than they do. My guess is that our differing perspectives have more to do with expectations and attention than malls. I believe my clients see only thin people in couples, a process called selective attention: we see only what we want to see, only what we expect, and only what we believe to be true.

Okay, then, how to explain why super skinny celebrities get dumped? Could it be that some have nicer outsides than insides? That some are not very likable? That a thin body doesn’t make up for a yucky personality? I understand fat phobia, but I also know that lovability and body size have little to do with each other. Consider people you know whom you think are grand examples of humanity. Are they all slim? Are none of them fat? Would they actually be more or less lovable at a higher or lower weight?

The irrational belief that thin equals lovable and fat equals unlovable comes from society, yes, but more than that, from the attitudes about weight you learned growing up in your family. Someone made you or another family member feel unloved because of size. They made a connection where none existed and you ended up believing it. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now. Lovable comes in all shapes and sizes.