Last month during an intimate girls' night in, I publicly posed the question that many overweight women wonder but never say aloud: "Is someone only going to marry me to get US citizenship?"
I don't mean to knock cross-cultural love, but the fear I'd always had confronted me a few days before. A woman I knew—a good-looking gal with a great job and also about a hundred excess pounds—just got engaged to a weird-looking guy who I don't think speaks English.
And, apparently, my fears are pretty commonplace among bigger gals. Says Wendy Wimmer, a blogger for the popular fat acceptance blog ElasticWaist.com, "The bumper sticker says it all: 'No fat chicks.' I have a lot of guy friends and they kind of forget that I'm a chick sometimes, so I have a glimpse into this male mindset, and I see the societal expectation for them to have a trophy girlfriend."
Jenny* rarely dated when she was in college or in her early twenties. "I wouldn't get a lot of attention," she says. "All my friends would be getting chased, and I wouldn't." AJ Feuerman, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, has had similar laments: "I have had a couple guys tell me that they didn't want to date me because of [my weight]. I had one guy tell me health is such an issue that he couldn't imagine being with someone who looked so unhealthy. It was one of those few instances where I wished a guy had lied to me."
While it seems shocking that a guy might say that, maybe it shouldn't be. A Yale University study this year found that the average woman starts to experience discrimination when she becomes thirteen pounds overweight, while an average man can be nearly 70 pounds past a six-pack before his size interferes with his relationships or his work. The authors of the study also noted that "sizeism" was more socially acceptable than discrimination based on sexual orientation, ethnicity or nationality, and disability.