If the people you see at church or the park or the mall are representative, skinny people don’t have a monopoly on marriage. It’s possible that some of those heavy women were tiny when their guy proposed — the first year of marriage can result in a sort of newlywed 15 — but I suspect many looked pretty similar on their wedding day.
I wasn’t skinny when I met Steve. At least not outwardly. Let me explain.
I’ve had a long and arduous relationship with food. What’s supposed to be fuel — and thanks to our creative God, of a kind that’s enjoyable — has been for me, more. Too much more. If not always love, at least dear friendship.
In college, I could barely go a day without thinking and even obsessing about food. It felt like PMS cravings that never went away. What should have been a two- or three-day yearning lasted months. I had an unhealthy relationship with food. I don’t doubt that a lot of what showed up as chocolate fixes was really a deeper longing to fit in, have purpose, and find friendship and love.
I couldn’t wait for college. But when I finally got there, it was just as awkward as junior high and high school had been. It was a big disappointment, and I wondered if I’d ever find my place. Then I went to graduate school. I felt like I was in my element. Finally, my life felt big enough to grow into.
I was part of a group of classmates all focused on something beyond us. We were a team working on common goals, valuing each other for unique contributions. My friends liked a lot about me that had nothing to do with how I looked. Rarely did I worry that I wasn’t the most attractive one at the table. I had always said my value came from who I was. Finally, I was starting to believe it.
And the more I focused on my challenges, achievements and growing friendships, the less interesting food became. Even though I was overweight, I wasn’t so dependent on food to make me happy. My life, not just dinner, was a source of satisfaction now. And that made all the difference.
I was learning it’s not primarily about the scale.
Back in college when I dropped 40 pounds and four jeans sizes, between freshman and sophomore years, I was probably at my most unhealthy mentally. I was in bondage to my weight and could barely enjoy my shrinking success because my mind was obsessed with the process of dieting: what foods were good, which ones were bad, etc.
Compare that with me at one of my heaviest points, right after our daughter was born. In regard to weight and food, I felt freer than I’d ever felt before. Finally my body was doing what God made it to do: giving and nurturing new life. I was content. And I was at peace with food, relying on it to give me the strength to do the tasks before me as well as being able to enjoy the process of being nourished, even as I was nourishing our daughter.
What matters most is what’s going on in your head and heart.
It was no surprise that being free mentally was an essential part of what finally kicked in physically. Once I stopped obsessing about food — whether eating with reckless abandon or dieting to the point of pain — I started losing weight.
It was a slow and steady process made up of hundreds of little, healthful choices. It wasn’t “just grapefruit juice for the next 10 days” or extreme aerobics. It was eating foods God made, the way He made them: cutting out processed “foods” and learning to prepare fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats skillfully. It also meant regular, maintainable exercise (walking and some running.)
And so it was, at the point where I started viewing food the way God meant it to be, that Steve and I started dating. I still had weight to lose, but he was attracted to all of me. Not just my skin. That’s why he was such a great encouragement in my efforts to get healthy and why I didn’t worry that if I ever gained any of it back (like I did with all three pregnancies), that he’d stop loving me.
Our love, as well as our efforts to get and live healthy, endures.
A tiny frame is no guarantee of a good relationship or marriage. Yes, trim girls do turn guys’ heads — men are visual beings. But turning a head isn’t enough to build a strong marriage. What’s inside the skin matters most — whatever your body size.
Of course, that’s not justification for neglect. Just as a woman who’s only about her appearance can ultimately turn off men who are in search of a godly wife, so too the woman who cares nothing for the way she looks. We all have a responsibility to be good stewards of our health and the bodies God gave us.
There are just as many overweight married women as there are overweight single ones. So no, you don’t have to be skinny to get a husband. However, it is good for your health that you be at peace with food. It’s not so much about what size you are as it is your mindset. Whether fat or thin, tall or short, blonde or brunette, if you’re making the most of the physical attributes God gave you, seeing food as nutrition and being a good steward of your health, you’re likely to be confident and content with where you are today and where you’re headed. And that’s attractive.
Copyright 2008 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.