I didn't understand how my husband could possibly want my body until he packed on a few pounds.
Boys don't make passes at girls with big asses (and thighs and stomachs) ... or so society (and my mother) would have us believe. Women are judged by our bodies, not our minds. Size acceptance activism aside, this is the world we all have to live and date in.
The friend who wasn't interested because I was too short and fat; the guy in a club who could barely bring himself to tell me the time; the blind date whose face fell the moment he saw me — they all helped me feel like a repulsive troll as much as any magazine or weight loss company ever did.
Online dating only reinforced my feelings of unsexiness. I'd never seen so many men who didn't want to meet me in the same place.
I met my husband way back when people wanted to read something about you before rejecting you. Yet, my witty, sparkling profile and professional photo didn't get me that many dates.
I've done a lot of healing by learning from fat acceptance activists. For years, I've known in the depths of my soul that I'm entitled to respectful healthcare and cute clothes. But I still didn't feel sexy.
It wasn't a big deal. Sexiness is fleeting but a sharp sense of humor and an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture are forever.
Our bodies change over the years, so there's clearly so much more to a relationship than how well each partner maintains their figure. Most men (including my husband) know this and are attracted to someone based on their personality.
It's not that my husband isn't attracted to me despite my body — it's just that my body isn't top priority.
I sort of understood this in the sense that I knew it applied to other people, but I didn't think it applied to me. After the wedding, I'd gained weight thanks to chronic pain and my brain just couldn't accept that the extra weight didn't make a difference to him.
Then one day, I noticed that he'd gained weight, too. Men carry their weight so ridiculously; it's all in the gut. He's shaped like a potato on toothpicks.
I was repulsed by him for just a moment. My parents fought over my dad's weight, among many other things, so realizing my husband was built like my dad was beyond icky. Lucky for both of us, we weren't in the middle of anything more romantic than Wii Sports.
The next minute, I considered nagging him to exercise because he has a family history of heart disease. Then I immediately realized that he's not an idiot and already knows that.
I'd almost fat-shamed him the way I've been fat-shamed myself. And like most fat-shaming, it was really about attractiveness, not health. I felt like such a jerk.
It occurred to me that his big, absurd gut didn't make any difference — I still loved him and wanted to have sex with him. I finally got it.
Later that day, we were sitting on the couch and I rested my head on his belly and said, "Hello, tummy." It was the first time either one of us had acknowledged it.
He later said he was glad that I'd made friends with The Tummy, so I suspect he may have been feeling a little insecure about it himself.
I like that my husband's body is soft and cuddly. It's not like he's running off to kill a mastodon or fight off a barbarian invasion. His body is the potato-shaped delivery system for everything I love about him.
I like his body because it lets me communicate with his intelligent brain, kind soul, and absurd sense of humor. And that's what he likes about my body.
Even though I've outweighed him for our entire relationship, he's sincerely attracted to my body. Because if he's near my body, he's near me. He's not just being nice because I give him regular access to boobs. I finally get it.
I encourage him to exercise by telling him he should take The Tummy for a walk. And he walks me when my health allows. But I save my nagging for getting him to wear shirts that aren't too tight over The Tummy, for his own comfort as well as style.
And I've never felt sexier.