Love At Large

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A couple at an amusement park in Miami, Florida. (3059349393/flickr)

Sarah Varney, a senior health policy correspondent with Kaiser Health News and the author of XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis Is Complicating America's Love Life, looks beyond the impact of obesity on personal and public health to what it means for sex and intimacy.


Sarah Varney

Comments [17]

"It becomes very difficult to stay connected to your spouse when you're really at war with yourself." Welp. WHY are fat people at war with themselves? Because the media tells us we should be, and a very easy way to stop being at war with yourself is to adopt a HAES/IE/Non-Dieiting/Body acceptance approach. Sarah Varney claims this isn't about fat shaming, but it sure as hell sounds differently to me, as a fat woman.

I was 380 pounds on my wedding day. My husband loves me for who I am, not for what I look like, and he thinks I'm beautiful just the way I am. We've been together for 15 years, married for 10. We have an amazing sex life.

I had boyfriends before him, but with him I found acceptance and love in a way I'd never known, not even from my family. I was dieting when we met, and he once told me that he asked himself "if she never lost another pound, would it matter?" and the answer was NO. Because he LOVED me. When I decided I could no longer put my body through the hell of dieting, put my emotional health on the line for something scientifically demonstrated to fail for the vast majority of people, I knew he'd accept my choice and not hesitate to support it. Just as if I someday decided to start dieting again, he'd respect my choice (not that this will ever happen, but it's good to know I'd have his support, regardless).

Physical looks can go away for so many reasons, many of which are beyond our control. That man who called in and admitted to being shallow... what if his wife loses a limb? What if she's horribly scarred in a car accident? Will he up and leave her because she's no longer attractive enough?

What if she has chemo and loses her hair? What if, what if, what if.

People in relationships based on superficial reasons will always have problems with their marriage. I'd rather be my fat self in my marriage that is based on WHO I AM and not how I look than be with some shallow, self-absorbed prick who'd leave me just because I wasn't pretty on the outside anymore.

The "bigger shaped" people have a harder time because our society is built for, and reveres, thin people. That's really what it comes down to... we've developed societal preferences and ideals and if you're outside that "norm" then you have to deal with all the stigma and the media and government promoted hatred and fear mongering of fat people. As if our fat is contagious.

The comments from most callers remind me of why I'm glad to no longer live in NYC, where a size 8 is fat. Ironically, I moved to the "thinnest state" in the nation and the people here are FAR more accepting of others than the people back east.

Aug. 28 2014 03:05 PM
Cleo from Seattle

Oh good grief! This is appalling. I am so sick of the manufactured "obesity crisis". Fat people are "at war with themselves" because fat hatred is endemic in this country, and self-hatred is a learned thing, which happens after we're all been bombarded by the contempt for our bodies. Fat kids are ostracized because they have learned that being fat is considered morally wrong. Stop the fat hatred, stop the internalized hate.

Being fat is simply another body morphology. Having sex while fat is not bad or terrible or hard! Those of us who are fat need to be the ones defining what our lives are like. And, other people are not here to decorate the world, so if you don't like how someone looks, look somewhere else. "But oh it's about your health!!" Well, someone else's "health" status is not your biz. The only thing you can tell about someone's fat body is that they are fat.

This reporter did not take a neutral approach, she has clearly bought into the fat hatred, however couched it is. Ugh.

Aug. 28 2014 11:47 AM
Eugenia Renskoff from NYC

Hi, People often ask me why I am so thin. don't know what to tell them. I can't say that life happens. Eugenia Renskoff

Aug. 19 2014 04:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens


We finally agree on something. It all adds up, and it doesn't take much for most of us to gain weight, especially after age 50. That is when I forced myself onto the so-called "Atkins Diet" (no to low eating of carbs)and lost weight and kept it off for nearly 18 years now. As you say, a few extra carbs a day and you are on your way to becoming a fat blob.

Aug. 19 2014 12:13 PM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Ten pounds per year is only 35,000 excess calories. On a daily basis, that's taking in 96 calories in a day that you don't burn. That's two Oreo cookies or 2/3 of a candy bar. On the bright side, cutting 100 calories per day is pretty easy. Replace two high-cal snacks with lower cal alternatives and you will get there. The problem is most dieter's feel like failures if they take a year to lose 10 pounds. They shouldn't.

Aug. 19 2014 11:30 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

Important to remember that your metabolism slows as you age, so it's crucial to get kids eating healthy and exercising at an early age.

Aug. 19 2014 11:29 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Wow, francyne. Your brain is probably size 0 too.
That comedian caller was great, hilarious.
I appreciate the guest's honest attempt at cultural sensitivity, but her use of the term 'normal weight' belies it.

Aug. 19 2014 11:26 AM
Anonymous from Park Slope, Brooklyn

and please stop saying "booty" - you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight!!! period.

Aug. 19 2014 11:23 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

FAT SEX!! re: caller

Aug. 19 2014 11:22 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

When you're only having seconds, I'm having twenty-thirds. When I go to get my shoes shined, I gotta take their word because I'm fat, I'm fat, sha-mone! Really, really fat.

Aug. 19 2014 11:21 AM
Anonymous from Park Slope, Brooklyn

SMH - I don't know who you interviewed...please stop speaking for Black Men and Women. Thanks.

Aug. 19 2014 11:21 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

No carbs, no obesity. Carbohydrates are the problem.It began when farming began 10,000 years ago. How do we know? Because of the little statuettes of fat fertility goddesses found from that time. Females were the ones who invented farming playing around with roots and plants while the men were out hunting for meat. If you eat only meat and eggs and fish you can't gain any weight. Wheat is weight. Everything made from wheat, rice, beans and most plants grown on farms will make you fat with few exceptions. Elephants eat only plants and are fat. Lions eat only meat and are rarely overweight. No fat lions, and no fat hunters. Fat hunters would have starved to death young.

Aug. 19 2014 11:15 AM
Pascale from Atlanta

When I met my husband I weighted 105 pounds and he 135 pounds. 25 years later I weigh 155 pounds and he weighs 200. Do I find him less attractive? Not really, because I love him as a whole, not only for what he looks like. I would not want him to tell me to lose weight, so I'm certainly not going to ask him to slim down. Our relationship is far from being based on looks.

Aug. 19 2014 11:14 AM
Pat from nyc

I was the only overweight kid in my high school (girl) classes for years and was constantly told that no one would like me unless I lost the weight. So, I never dated in high school, no one showed me any attention, only my dkinny sister. I came to the US for college and was surprised at the attention I received. It made me very uncomfortable

Aug. 19 2014 11:05 AM

I have an overweight friend. None of my friends are overweight and we are all very physically active. My friend has plenty of time and money so I was surprised that he never exercised, never talked about exercise, and seemingly never thought about it. I realized that he was at peace with it and I, therefore, should be at peace with it as well.

Aug. 19 2014 10:35 AM

Food advertisement should be banned the same way cigarettes or liquor ads are prohibited. I stopped watching TV mostly because the ads are too ridiculous. Even walking down the street is becoming annoying with the huge pictures of food which is usually some kind of artery clogging fried meat. It wasn't so bad when it was only McDonalds and other big chains since you can still avoid those but now all the little Spanish bodegas have taken to plastering the entire front of their store with pictures of greasy food. It really is like pollution and should be regulated. Would I still be uptight about it if it were pictures of salads and fruits? Not sure, but I would rather walk by a four foot tall picture of a pineapple than a wall of fried chicken photos each the size of a large dog.

Aug. 19 2014 10:03 AM

There is also the related issue of the dangers of surgery for obese women in labour.

My brother-in-law is an obstetrician here in the UK (where very obese people are increasingly common) and says that when an emergency caesarean has to to take place with an obese mother - when perhaps time is of the essence in order to save the baby - it's actually difficult to know where and how deep to cut as there is so much more body tissue to deal with than there is with a normal weight mother.

Aug. 19 2014 07:36 AM

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