Body Acceptance, Positivity, and a Double Standard

My eating disorder damaged many aspects of my life, but they say when you’re in recovery, the body image issues are the last to go. At the moment, I am really exploring my feelings and beliefs about body acceptance. An eating disorder is made up of many different components, and this is an area I want to focus on. 

Here are a few thoughts on body acceptance and positivity.

Body Acceptance

Back in my heyday, I dated men of all different sizes, races, backgrounds, religions, etc. I was an equal-opportunity girlfriend and I learned from everyone. I came to a point where I decided I really like nerds and that was my only real preference.

Why is it that when I was younger and dating around, I didn’t really care about the shape or size of the men I was seeing, however, I was very concerned about my own shape and size? I’m sure many people probably feel the same way I did. Why do we hold ourselves to a different standard?

I am more accepting of my body now than I was when I was younger – even though I am much bigger now than I was back then. I can thank my therapist for that. She said I need to have radical acceptance – my body is what it is. I will never be thin – especially with my very necessary medications – and that’s not my fault. That sort of acceptance is a hard pill to swallow, but strangely, also a relief. 

A Double Standard?

I recently noticed something. With the body positivity movement we are seeing more representation of plus-sized women in the media and fashion, but why does it seem men in the media haven’t changed at all? As a woman, I am often given the message, “All shapes and sizes are beautiful”, but I never see that applied to men. Even the mannequins in Target display plus-sized clothing in the women’s section, but I’m not seeing the same across the aisle in the men’s section. 

Are people now more accepting of larger women than larger men?

I brought this to my husband’s attention and he said men don’t care that much about how their bodies look. Is that true? I know men – loved ones – who were bullied as kids for being fat so you can’t tell me it doesn’t matter.

Obviously, women feel a lot of pressure about their looks, more so than men, but is it possible that the body positivity movement is leaving people out? Seeing women my size in the media really does help me. I think everyone deserves that representation.

My husband and I have ongoing conversations about body image and he always knows what to say to not only challenge me but also encourage me. At least I’m not on this journey alone.

I know this is a really personal question, but how do you feel about your body? Do you care what others think? What was it like when you were young? Does acceptance get easier with age? 


  1. sonofrojblake says

    Society doesn’t give a shit if men are fat, so men (generally) don’t care. Being fat is NOT a barrier to success for men in the way it is for women. You know what is? Being short, and being bald, or Bod forbid both. Society shits on short men – they’re a punchline. Even now for example it’s perfectly acceptable to ridicule five foot five inch hobbit Tom Cruise, at least in part because you’d never know from his movies that he’s so tiny. Knowing the stats, his fight scene with 6’4″ slab of meat Henry Cavill in one of the MI films is hilarious – in a real confrontation Cavill could pick him up and tear him in half.

    Baldness used to be almost as bad, but nowadays it seems like it’s more accepted – I can’t remember the last time I saw someone with a Bobby Charlton combover or an unconvincing wig. But wigs were thing, weren’t they? I remember my shock when I discovered Ted Danson was bald as a coot. William Shatner is a fan of the syrup also, despite his successor being one of the most famously successful bald men about.

    Here’s an injustice – if you’re fat, you can, in principle, get thin. If you’re short, well, that’s it. Sorry short guys, move along.

    Another reason men care less is because there are things that can make up for being short, specifically, being rich, and what goes with being rich, i.e. being powerful. Society values that more than looks, so men envy that more than they envy looks.

    Common exchange:
    Woman: “ooh, you look a bit like that bloke from Captain America”
    Man: “hah! I wish I had his money.”
    Translation: thanks for the compliment, but the looks are of no use to me.

    Ask yourself the question: would you rather being good looking and poor, or ugly and rich? (Parameters: “good looking” = Chris Evans/Scarlett Johannson good looking and “poor” = can afford to eat, can’t afford a car. “Ugly” = Harvey Weinstein/don’t be silly I’m not daft or misogynistic to think of going there, YOU pick an ugly woman, “rich” = you have so much money you don’t need to work and can’t, right now, think of anything to spend it on.)

  2. JM says

    Two things going on. First, fat men don’t face as bad of treatment as fat women do. Fat guys might not get as much respect and may get abused but they are not automatically treated like dirt or simply ignored the way fat women are. Second, society doesn’t consider men’s mental issues as important as women’s. If you move away from drug treatment there simply aren’t many treatment programs for men’s mental issues.

  3. beholder says

    Are people now more accepting of larger women than larger men?

    Short answer: yes. Long answer, well read on:

    There is a seething, omnipresent hatred of fat people in American culture, prevalent across age groups, that notably has not decreased as other bigoted attitudes have in the young’uns — really inescapable for those who are obese. For larger women whose historical gender roles and expectations almost solely revolved around conventional physique, I imagine they took more flak for it (I don’t know for sure, of course: I’m a fat cishet man). Women responded to that hate with a somewhat successful body positivity movement — it’s a worthwhile and unexpected achievement, but it’s not presently a movement that includes men. It doesn’t have to be, of course, but I understand the gut feeling, possibly not reflected in reality, that body positivity actively excludes fat men and the problems they face in society.

    Speaking again as a cishet fat man with almost no money, it’s nearly impossible to find dates. The “no money” part reinforces this, of course, as American culture values spending often to make your significant other feel special. But the fat hate is there; larger women and women more generally seem to have a much easier time finding dates, and a cishet fat man really has to have top notch social skills and a penchant for comedic self-degradation to draw any interest. American society is already lonely enough that people with low or no social skills don’t get the opportunity to practice them. I hear the LGBT dating scene generally (and gay men specifically) don’t face the fat disinterest problem to nearly as much of a degree, which at least is a reprieve from all the hate they face in society otherwise. But for cishet fat men, the fat hate is so ingrained in American culture that I believe the only groups that face more challenges with dating women are men with severe deformities, disfiguring injuries, physical disabilities, or mental disabilities. For the most part we go without, and it’s not expected that any fat men find love in common depictions in U.S. media. I appreciate Ashes’ anecdote about being egalitarian with regard to having dated men of any body size, but I don’t see it reflected more commonly.

    I know this is a really personal question, but how do you feel about your body?

    Fine, for the most part. I don’t believe I suffer from body image issues.

    Do you care what others think?

    No, but I also don’t expect to find dates.

    What was it like when you were young?

    Probably worse. The fat hate is harder to deal with in total institutions like public schools where you can’t easily escape the torment.

    Does acceptance get easier with age?

    In my personal experience, yes, but I never suffered crippling anxiety about my body size so I can’t really gauge a comparison.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    @WMDKitty: sure, therapy isn’t gendered. But if you think about it for even a second, you’d recognise that societal attitudes to people who seek therapy really ARE, very heavily gendered.

    This is the reason why way more women than men “attempt suicide”, while WAY more men than women actually kill themselves. Saying “therapy isn’t gendered” is another way of saying “man up and get help you wimp”, which is victim-blaming bullshit.

    Disclosure: my best friend killed himself a little over two years ago. If I’d had then the mental health first aid training I’ve had since, I’d have recognised the signs and may have been able to do something about it. The experience is still raw, so I’ve considerably reigned in my initial reaction to your helpful contribution.


    An aside on weight: over the years my weight crept up, then I changed and lost it all. My fear at the time was that I would lose some gravitas if I was thinner. Didn’t happen, but I was surprised at this internal reaction. Cishet woman

  6. sonofrojblake says

    Women choosing not to report rape is, well, on women, not society.
    How does that sound?

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