On Dating, Fat Shame, Negging, Tinder and Jerks

“I don’t find you attractive.”
“You are not attractive to me.”

These are some of the most hurtful words a woman can have said to her (or, as seen in the following cases, texted to her).

They poke at the sore spots and they pick at our scabs and they pinpoint our insecurities. They target the deep-seated, often well-hidden and ever-present fear that we are fundamentally flawed and undesirable — that we are unwanted and never will be, especially by the person who has our heart.

It hurts when it comes from someone we love, but it still smarts when it comes from someone we don’t.

In dating, you make yourself vulnerable and you put yourself out there, so it’s even more painful to be knocked back and be brutally rejected.

That’s the context for Michelle Thomas’ blog post. After talking to someone online for a while and meeting him for dinner, this gentleman felt it necessary to send her a 400 word text message (like, who does that?) to let her know why it wouldn’t work. This here just pisses me off:

Hey Michelle, sorry been super busy at work today hun.
Thanks for a wonderful evening last night. I really enjoyed your company and actually adore you. You’re cheeky and funny and just the sort of girl I would love to go out with if only my body and mind would let me. But I fear it won’t.
I’m not going to bull***t you… I f***ing adore you Michelle and I think you’re the prettiest looking girl I’ve ever met. But my mind gets turned on [b]y someone slimmer.
[…]
So whilst I am hugely turned on by your mind, your face, your personality (and God…I really, really am), I can’t say the same about your figure. So I can sit there and flirt and have the most incredibly fun evening, but I have this awful feeling that when we got undressed my body would let me down. I don’t want that to happen baby. I don’t want to be lying there next to you, and you asking me why I’m not hard.
[…]
I’m so disappointed in myself Michelle because I’ve genuinely not felt this way about anyone in ages, but I’m trying to be honest with you without sounding like a total knobhead.
We could be amazing friends, we could flirt and joke and adore each other and…. f*** me… I would marry you like a shot if you were a slip of a girl because what you have in that mind of yours is utterly unique, and I really really love it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to avoid bigger pain in the future by telling you now so we don’t have to go through that embarrassment. I’m a man… With all the red hot lusts of a man and all the failings of a man and I’m sure of my own body and its needs.
Please try and forgive me. I adore you xx

You can read her absolutely epic reply here. She also talks more about what happened here.

If there is anything that really makes me incensed, it’s when men say things like this. Given the feedback from her post, and the thousands of letters of support that have poured in, she is not alone.

I think of a friend of mine who was dating a guy (from church, no less). She told me that on their dates, he’d always make snide comments about her weight and her size — comments that pointed to his discomfort with her voluptuousness. She told me about him. I told her to dump him. When the relationship eventually (and inevitably, really) fizzled, I told her it was his loss. If you saw my friend and knew all that she had to offer, you would agree.

I also think of Christiana Topacio, whose “love interest” (I use that term in the loosest way possible), texted her and said that:

“You are so beautiful. Your personality is so hilarious. I can tell that you are witty. I can tell your [sic] smart. I can tell your [sic] just pure comedy. I would seriously consider dating you… [I]t fucking kills me to say this… And it’s nothing you don’t know already. And I’m positive you’ve thought about it. And I’m only telling you this because I want it to effect a change. You need to fucking lose weight. It kills me.”

Seeing a girl comfortable in her own skin “kills” you? Oh, if only… *sighs wistfully*

Also, if you “know” that she supposedly knows she needs to lose weight, why do you insist on telling her?

And why would someone ever take advice from or date a guy who can’t differentiate between “your” and “you’re,” or “effect” and “affect”? Stay in school. Good grammar is sexy.

“And maybe I’m a superficial asshole [sic],” he continues. “But it’s literally the ONLY reason I haven’t made something happen. And maybe I’m a self-important jerk who’s thinking my thoughts should matter…”

At least he got one thing right. At least he’s not completely deluded. He knows the kind of man he is, and that’s important.

And I think of another friend, who recounted an episode on Facebook of how a man approached her when she was working out:

Reason # 875 why I’ve embraced the spinster life: dude starts talking to me at the gym. He’s attractive and seems sane so I indulge him. Things are going great until he asks about my haircut. I tell him it’s an on and off thing, but I prefer to keep it short because it works better with my lifestyle. He asks to see a before photo. Not yet aware that he’s a nutjob, I show him a couple of photos from last year. He then proceeds to spend 10 minutes trying to convince me to grow out my hair because he “likes women to look like women” (as opposed to what, exactly?) and because I’m “attractive, but look better with hair”. He is then somehow flabbergasted when I decline his offer to go out with him. WTF? Screwface, earphones in, with music at full blast is the only way to survive this city sometimes.”

It makes me livid when men play these mind games and send mixed messages:

“You would look better with longer hair — Go out with me?”
“I really, really like you, and you are really, really cool, and yeah, I know I pursued you and I was the one who wanted to have dinner with you in the first place and I want to be with you but you’re fat, so I can’t.”

Umm… Da fuq?

I hate it when men try to tell you what to do with your body in order to make yourself more attractive to them. And I hate that men think that we will actually care and change.

What goes on in a man’s mind when he says or writes that? What makes a man think that he can say this to you? What makes him think he can and ought to try to control you? To think that he has such power and clout over you? To think that you should and would care about the acceptability of your adipose tissue?

Oh I forgot. Patriarchy. Misogyny. *Sigh*

Like what’s seriously going on in your head?

“I think she’s pretty but she’d be prettier if she wasn’t fat. I’d better go tell her. Derp, derp, derp…”
“I just felt that she should know that I don’t like her figure.”
“I’m doing my manly duty of giving women my unsolicited opinions about their bodies.”

They wield their power over us because they know that we have been socialized to submit and conditioned to care about the male-gaze. Again *Sigh*

Topacio says on her blog:

“I found it incredibly sad that women felt that if I were “fat” or if this boy was my partner, that would entitle him to tell me to f*cking lose weight. I know that it’s cultural acceptance, I know that we are taught to think that others are just “looking out for us.” And, I know that some people genuinely think they are helping, outside of those negging assholes (I attached this link because it’s a real perspective of those that use negging as a real way to get women).”

The idea that if she were fat then the comment was merited is deeply troubling. Also, apparently “neggingis a thing. In the xoJane piece I posted above, Chris Anderson commented and said:

“The guy was running a game where he tries to get the psychological edge on the object of his desire.
That may be because he feels inferior to her, it may be because he has a general inferiority complex, or it could be due to any number of factors which lead him to “need” to be “in control” of every aspect in his life. Females are just another accessory to this guy’s ego. So, this message was his first step. The alternative is that he’s lazy and doesn’t want to work at wooing her, so he goes the “neg” route, as I’ve seen it explained in other comments. Which is the same thing as what I’m describing, really.
The plan would be, in this case, for his target, Christina, to succumb to “her emotions” and seek out his approval. It’s the “abused woman” syndrome in psychological terms. After all, if she can’t see anything wrong with herself (just look at her, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her appearance, she is beautiful) her next step must be to prove him wrong. His bet is that, at least some of the time, his plan is going to work and he’ll be hooking up with her, and only on his terms, with Christina wrapped around his little finger in no time.”

Some of the comments on Thomas’ blog said that at least he was being honest (such comments came from men. Go figure.). That’s not honesty. That’s saying things that don’t need to be said. That’s a lesson in how to be an evil prig and a heartless prick. And to think that he is doing you a favour? Kindly do us all a favour and stfu.

I totally know and understand and agree that physical attraction is essential in any romantic relationship. For most people, sex will be a part of that relationship, and so there needs to be some chemistry. There needs to be some heat, some lust, and some desire (or rather a lot of those things) for this to work. You should be able to get turned on when you are with your partner. After all, you can’t do much with a flaccid penis and vaginal dryness. I get that.

But I was also taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. It was unnecessary for these men to tell Thomas and Topacio, in great and unforgiving detail, their disgust regarding the bodies of these women.

Here’s the scoop: If you don’t like me, if you don’t like a larger girl, if you don’t like short hair, do us all a real favour and go after your own “type.” Keep your wrong-headed thoughts to yourself. Go after someone who will stroke your fragile ego, who will coddle your pride and who will change and morph and contort and bend into pretzels to suit your every capricious whim, and at least try to divest yourself of your insecurities while you are at it.


Originally published at simonesamuels.wordpress.com on October 16, 2015.

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