I’m fat, and I write on the internet for a living. I write about the experience of living in a fat body and body size a lot of the time, and that makes a lot of folks feel like they have every right to say whatever the hell they want about the size of my body. It’s stupid, it’s rude, but it’s not surprising. Society hates fat bodies, and I can’t single-handedly change that.
But do you know what’s really a whole entire extra load of bullshit? When people use my size to express pity for my husband and shame me for “letting myself look like this.”
Nothing like waking up to a comment section full of comments like, “I feel bad for her husband. She should try to make herself more attractive for him. I wouldn’t blame him for leaving or cheating.”
It’s especially frustrating for me when I get this comment from a woman. It tells me that she lives with the belief that she owes her partner a thin body. Imagine the pressure of believing that if you had a body like mine, you would no longer be worthy of a faithful, loving partner? What a sad existence.
Here’s the actual truth: You don’t owe your spouse a fucking thing when it comes to the size or shape of your own damn body.
They don’t owe you one single mother effing thing, either.
Even if you are legally hitched, your bodies are your own, and the science of body size is so freaking complicated. Even people who never gain much weight will not have the same body for life. The human body is way more interesting than that.
The idea that a body should never get larger, softer, change shape, age or look much different than it once did is toxic bullshit. That expectation is a product of diet culture — a system that elevates thinness as the only ideal, assigns morality to body size, and encourages people to chase thinness at any cost.
Lots of people make lots of money off the idea that you are not enough (or at least not ideal) unless you’re the smallest, tightest, “sexiest” version of yourself. If you believe this, you didn’t come to that conclusion on your own. Diet culture decided for you. Everything you believe about body size is a direct result of millions of thin-centric messages being funneled into your brain, pretty much from birth.
This idea that spouses owe their partners a body that fits the cultural ideal is just some more entitled, diet culture bullshit.
It truly sucks that outside sources, like TV, diet ads, and social media throw that expectation onto us. Many women even learned a lot of these messages from our own mothers. Their obsessions with their own bodies during our childhoods shaped the way we see ourselves today.
But as bad as outside pressure feels, it’s a zillion times worse when the pressure is coming from inside your own relationship.
If you are the spouse that expects your partner to maintain a certain body type to earn or deserve your love and fidelity, I want you to know that you suck.
Your wife doesn’t owe you an explanation as to why her body looks different than it did when you met. If her tummy is soft, her back has a roll or two, her hips are wider than they used to be, and her boobs have traveled a bit closer to her belly button, that is called LIFE. You have no right to expect her to defy gravity, work herself to the bone, and reverse the passage of time just to appease your unrealistic expectations.
I want to be clear that a woman’s status as a biological mother is completely moot in this scenario. Yes, pregnancy changes a lot of people’s bodies. Babies or no babies, parenting or not, women can change — and that’s all you need to know.
While we are here, let’s not forget the men. Your husband doesn’t owe you the flat stomach he had when he was 25. He doesn’t owe you a full head of hair, broad shoulders, or a narrow waist. Your husband isn’t obligated to spend his precious free time trying to sculpt his body in a gym any more than you owe him a tight round ass that would make J. Lo jealous.
And don’t get me started on non-binary partners. If you married a non-binary person, their gender expression might change over time. It is not their obligation to present you with a traditionally feminine or masculine shape to appease your expectations.
You presumably chose your partner because they made sense for you as a teammate in life. You loved them, and chances are you also found them wildly attractive.
It’s great to stay in communication, make an effort for one another, and show each other that you care by prioritizing the things that make your love happy. My husband loves the way I look in dark, smokey makeup. Sometimes I will spend a few minutes putting on a full face before he comes home just because I like how he looks at me when I do. He knows I love a clean shave. Even when he has a week or two off, he will shave his face every couple of days just to make me happy. Effort is important.
Changing your whole entire body is not something a person can do in one afternoon by making a little simple effort. Holding someone to a body standard that is out of their immediate reach is unfair, and it’s just obnoxious and gross.
Nobody should have to feel like they are not acceptable within the walls of their own home and the confines of their romantic relationship. That’s not love.
It goes without saying that everyone is free to embrace change in their own body, however that looks. That might mean intentional weight loss. Maybe it means allowing for some weight gain. Changing your mindset to shed the feeling that thin bodies are the only ideal bodies is important.
But your partner’s body doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to them. Solely. Your job is to love them and support them in whatever body they have — not police their body and pressure them to defend themselves or change it for you.
There is more to life than pursuing thinness until you die. If you can’t let your partner exist freely in the body they have, you’re not being a good partner. You have a shitload of personal growth work to do. Be better. They deserve it, and you do, too.