"It's a double standard because there are men with really beautiful women that don't have great bodies, and yet nobody's saying anything about that," she tells Katie Couric on CBS Evening News. "Women [think they] need to keep themselves up to look good for a man or for society. It's not fair."I’ve only had a couple of boyfriends in my relatively few years on this earth, and while most of my dating history can probably be attributed to my…quirks, I can’t help but blame my appearance most of the time.
It has always irked me that society tells us that boyfriends/husbands can be fat but girlfriends/wives should be slim. You see slender girls with larger boys all the time, but how often are those tables turned? It’s rare to see an overweight gal with a “normal-sized” dude. And in the chicken-egg debate of “does art imitate life or vice versa?” there are several TV shows that perpetuate this relationship rule.
|The Honeymooners |
This pairing is probably just a product of 1950s society; the pretty little housewife catered to the bread-winning man. Maybe this was one of the first instances of the fat-husband-skinny-wife TV template?
|The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air |
Philip and Vivian Banks belong to high society; he’s a wealthy businessman, and she – well, does she work? I don’t remember. I do remember one episode when she went to dance classes or a big audition, and she was one helluva dancer (read: in good shape). Regardless of occupation, he’s fat, and she’s thin.
|The Drew Carey Show |
Drew was the lovable big guy who often dated girls smaller than him. I used to watch it but am only vaguely remembering – did he and Kate date a few times? Did they end up together? Nevertheless, it follows the pattern of the larger dude with smaller chicks.
|The King of Queens |
This is the one that always sticks out in my mind. She’s hot, and he’s fat. He’s funny and charming and sweet (like Drew up there), so that’s what won her over, I guess. However, “funny, charming, and sweet” rarely ever get fat gals dates – it’s the looks that usually reels in the fellas.
So we see patterns here – the man is either the breadwinner or he’s funny and charming. I mentioned a chicken-egg argument earlier, and here’s another: is the man’s weight a moot point if the couple/family adheres to the paternalistic bread-winner model? Should I be attacking that model instead (because trust me, I do)? Is he “allowed” to be fat because he should be the “head of the house” and should be “taken care of” at home? Maybe that’s why the balance between fat spouses is skewed toward the man – historically, excess weight has meant excess wealth. Are we still brainwashed to believe that? Are guys actually so shallow as to say “no fatties,” or are they afraid to look “weak” by taking a partner who looks physically bigger?
I think the main reason we don’t see more large women in relationships with smaller men is because of those historical gender roles. The man is “supposed” to be larger because big = masculine, and the woman is “supposed” to be smaller because dainty = feminine. While society has largely moved on from the single breadwinner financial model, I think we’re stuck on the body image stereotype that accompanied it. It’s definitely difficult to break down social mores and protocols that have been hammered into society over several generations. If men have always understood that slender = beautiful, they’re afraid to even entertain the idea of getting involved with larger women for fear of looking like “less of a man.”
I’m starting to feel rants and tangents coming on here, so I’ll just open it up to comments.
Also, I did a few quick Google searches to see if there were any links I should include or resources to back up my rants, and I came across this post from Back in Skinny Jeans. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who is bothered by this pattern!
Do you agree or disagree that it’s more taboo for an overweight gal and slender dude to date/marry? Why do you think that is? Does age have anything to do with it – might those stereotypes get weaker as we get older? How does race play a role in these rules? Am I completely off-base and only seeing what I want to see? For the record, I’ve known very few big girl/small dude pairings but plenty of the opposite, so maybe my little corner of the world is skewed.
Update: I just knew I'd come back and edit this for some reason. Laura brought up a good point with her comment - I'm not just ranting about dudes, because I am totally subject to this "brainwashing" as well. I don't want to date someone who's thinner than me; I look for bigger, burlier dudes. I don't want to be the big one in a relationship, but I wouldn't mind having a guy who's a little bigger than me. However, it's not often that dudes can say the same thing. So while it sounds like I'm bashing guys for having this skewed mindset, I'm really questioning the status quo and society in general. Carry on.