“Fat. Single. Christian.”
I read the title of Joy Beth Smith’s latest post and wondered who she was talking about. Because she’s my editor, we talk over the phone and interact on Facebook, but I’ve never actually met her in person. As I kept reading, I realized: Oh my. Joy Beth is talking about herself. This is intense.
I am talented and opinionated and passionate and valuable. I am good at writing and making jokes and cleaning. I would make a wonderful wife, and I would spend the rest of my life trying to selflessly love and serve my husband. I would love to whittle away the days manning a minivan full of foster kids and friends to soccer games and recitals and tutoring. None of these things would be diminished because of my size, and yet none of them seem to matter because of my size.
Her vulnerability pricked my heart. As a dad of two little unself-conscious girls, I heard the echo of what could easily be my own daughters’ voices one day, and before I knew it, I couldn’t see the screen through my tears.
The truth is, though, plus-size women aren’t the only ones who get written off. There are men and women out there who frequently hit a wall because of physical quirks or personality traits that others can’t seem to change but end up being a turnoff to most potential mates. And the sad thing is, they might be missing out — big time.
A Deceiving Book Cover
My friend Melissa used to work at this high-end furniture store in Mobile, Alabama. And then one day, an older man came into the store wearing overalls and looking like he was from some podunk town nearby. Her co-worker was assigned to work the area of the store where the man was looking, but she refused.
“Oh my goodness — look at him. I’m not wasting my time talking to that guy,” she said.
“I’ll go talk to him then,” said Melissa.
The salespeople in the store were paid on commission, so Melissa was taking the risk of losing an opportunity to meet a paying customer and make more money that day. But as she and her coworker soon discovered, looks can be very deceiving.
The simple looking man had actually docked his yacht in the Mobile Bay and stopped by their furniture store to shop for a wedding gift for his son. Before the day was over, Melissa helped him purchase several nice wedding gifts — $70,000 worth of nice gifts, in fact. And her coworker missed out on the windfall — all because the customer didn’t look quite right.
Like I said before, I’m sure men and women do this every day and miss out on solid mates as a result. She writes him off because he’s immature. He doesn’t have a great job. He’s a little chubby. He’s too introverted. He dresses kind of dorky.
He writes her off because “there’s no spark.” She’s not intellectually stimulating enough. She’s too career oriented. She’s too tall. She wears mom jeans (or plus-size jeans). She’s too clingy.
So much of the stuff men and women reflexively use as the yardstick for attractiveness has so little to do with the real nuts and bolts of a good marriage — things like your ability to grow together in God, whether you two will make good friends, the ability to do thankless work without resentment and the willingness to learn from other people.
But these priceless qualities aren’t the kind of stuff you figure out by assessing someone from far away and making a decision based on presumption. It’s something you figure out by approaching someone respectfully, investing a little time in him or her, and running the risk that you might be wasting your time — or that you’re about to hit the jackpot for a lifetime mate.
So take a second look next time, maybe even a third. You never know what you might otherwise be missing.