Last week, I was bargaining with myself to get on the treadmill. I was sick of my playlists and glanced at my podcast roster. I saw a Dear Sugar podcast on body image. It was 40-something minutes on what sounded like a juicy topic. I chose this over Adele for the thousandth time. If you’re unfamiliar with Dear Sugar, it’s Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild and my favorite BraveEnough). Cheryl and her podcast partner Steve Almond (best last name ever) tackle all things interpersonal and touchy. If you’re not familiar with podcasts, I’d resolve to change that this year.
This podcast was called “The Weight of Love”. Cheryl opened by sharing about her own weight fluctuations. She admitted she felt better when her weight was toward the low end of her range but appreciated that her husband told her she was beautiful regardless of her weight.
I’m summarizing as the podcast really focused on two letters written by listeners. The first letter writer was a guy in his twenties. This guy was in a relationship with a “terrific woman”. He said she was a little overweight and this was an issue for him. He deliberated whether or not to say something. He ended up saying something in a casual, less than sensitive, way and “she didn’t take it well.” Cheryl reacted strongly, she didn’t feel he should’ve said anything and even suggested he break up with her if size mattered. Steve asked Cheryl if withholding his opinion was honest. My view is our words need to be chosen very carefully in these situations; however, they’re legit and shouldn’t be closeted.
I’ve written before about a conversation I had with Marc. I was writing about couples and weight and said “if I gained 100 pounds would you still be attracted to me” or something like that. He, never one to be politically correct, said “no”. As we talked, he said that being active and in shape was a big part of our relationship. I totally get that even if it’s not what I’d like him to think. And I think Cheryl’s advice for this young man is what she’d like men to think. While it’s nice to imagine our partners love us 100% as is, if you are in a relationship there are changes you’d like to see, whether they are physical or no.t As I discussed Monday, I’m pro change.
Why should we be open with conversations about sex, money, in-laws and children but bite our tongues about weight?. Our weight affects our confidence which affects how we interact with others and especially how you feel in an intimate relationship. There’s a shift in the ethos; it’s taboo to focus on weight. I was castigated in certain circles for the title The Little Book of Thin. The Little Book of Wellness would’ve been OK. I’m the last person to rank size above other, more meaningful topics like health and gratitude but it’s part of the picture and shouldn’t be ignored.
What advice would you give the letter writer? Would you talk to a partner about weight or be ok if they brought it up to you? And what are your favorite workout songs or podcasts?