I recently purchased and read your book Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen. I enjoyed your book, and it gave me some great perspective on what I can do to help myself get married. It inspired me to let people know that I am planning on getting married and made me realize that in the past when I said negative things about men or marriage it wasn't helping, only hurting.
But one thing really irked me. In the commonly asked questions section in the back, the question was posed regarding a woman's appearance and how women think about beauty. I quote from your response: "Being overweight and unkempt does little to attract a man's attention and ultimately, affection."
I understand you were trying to get across that we need to take care of our bodies — not just because of our future husbands but because God gave us this body and we need to be good stewards of what He gave us. Though to me, it seems like you are saying that if a woman is overweight, she may never attract a husband.
I have struggled with my weight my whole life — losing weight and gaining it back. It has wreaked havoc on my body in the way of sagging skin that cannot be fixed except for surgery. I have always been overweight, and despite my efforts to lose weight, I never did reach a healthy weight range according to the Body Mass Index. I try to take care of my body and watch what I'm eating as best as I can, but it seems that I will always be overweight and certainly my body will always bear the effects of being overweight.
That comment you made actually made me lose hope in finding a husband. If I can never look good enough to attract a mate, how can I expect to ever get married?
Thank you for writing. The point of the Q&A that you reference was to encourage women who are being negligent of their bodies, health and beauty to pay attention to them. It certainly wasn't my intention to discourage women who are working hard at that by making them think that if they don't reach some arbitrary standard of beauty that they're doomed to lifelong singleness.
Wedding dresses come in all sizes: small, medium, large and extra large! While it's true that I've written before about the role of a woman's physical appearance in attracting a husband, I've also been careful to say that men are as varied in their taste as women are. You need only to people-watch at the mall or even in church to notice that all shapes and sizes of men and women get married (and many of them were that shape and size on their wedding day). Tall, short, fat, thin, bald, hirsute — variety really is the spice of life. That's good news.
Does it help to be beautiful and thin when you're hoping to attract a husband? It doesn't hurt. But thankfully, mercifully, it's not essential. And I have many beautiful, thin friends who are still single and wondering, like you, if there's something about them that's keeping them that way.
What's most important in our efforts to be beautiful is a godly perspective. The Bible says our hearts house our Lord, that our bodies are temples where the Holy Spirit dwells. It only makes sense that we do the best with what we've been given to keep them healthy and fit. It's a matter of stewardship.
I believe the healthy ideal is to eat foods in as close to their natural state as possible, to eat when you're hungry, to stop eating before you're full, and to incorporate movement into your lifestyle. The more liveable your fitness routine, the more likely you'll do it.
Like you, I've been up and down on the scale. And whether heavy or light, I feel best when I'm focusing on the people in my life, my relationship with God, and the work He's called me to. If I never thought about food, weight or body image again, that would be wonderful! It seems the women who do their best in these areas, then get on with life, are the most relaxed and delightful to be with. It's not just looks that attract men, but attitudes!
Fitness is a far cry from the extremes praised by our culture. A woman who spends more time exercising her physical muscles than she does exercising her spiritual ones may have enviable abs and biceps, but where it really matters, she's weak.
I love the part in Beth Moore's Esther study where she says, "It's tough being a woman in a world where beauty is a treatment." When Esther was corralled with the other virgins and brought to the palace, she was already "lovely in form and features" (Esther 2:7). Still she had to undergo 12 months of beauty treatments before going to the king. We live in a culture not too different. You can never be pretty enough it seems.
As God's creation, you are His workmanship. You are beautiful, already. It's just that our culture has twisted the meaning of that word. Getting married isn't about "looking good enough," it's about being fully who God made you to be. I pray that you will find your identity in your Maker and be fully at rest in Him, trusting that His design for your body is good. May He strengthen you for the work of being a good steward, enable you to enjoy the fruits of those efforts and be at peace with the results.
Copyright 2009 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.