- Work with Dr. Turndorf
Man That is Revolted by Overweight Women
December 7, 1998 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I am a 56 year old male and a problem that while not causing me a lack of sleep, does cause me concern as to why I feel as I do about a certain subject....and that is that as far back as I can remember (certainly back as far as my earliest elementary school years, I have always been adverse, or turned off by 'overweight' females....and by 'overweight', I am not referring only to those ladies that are 'morbidly obese'(which can sometimes bother me so much I can actually become nauseated....but in general to any woman that might be described as 'pudgey', stout, full-sized, etc.
When I meet or interact with any such persons, regardless of any other attractivity, i.e., pretty face, pleasant personality, people skills, intelligence, cleanliness, neatness, or most any other positive attribute, any thought of personal social and/or romantic interaction is 'dead on sight' and never improves regardless of any continuing interaction(s) with the person involved. I can maintain a professional relationship.
My feelings regarding this bother me because I certainly don't consider such feelings healthy or normal. And at the same time, I know I am shorting myself of social/personal growth opportunities that are otherwise enjoyed by a large segment of the population.
However, no matter how I rationalize a situation, I cannot seem to overcome by biases regarding ' overweightness' in women. I have even forced myself to accept situations such as social outings and or 'dates' with women that would normally be regarded as only 'stout' or 'pudgey'...only to have each such interaction end disasterously, i.e., a total lack of any enjoyment and what could be described as an 'unenjoyable evening' for the both of us. Sexual involvement between myself and an overweight woman is a total distaster. Absolutely'nothing happens' of any arousal nature....regardless of how physically or passive the involved woman is. In brief, should her flesh meet mine, I feel nothing except desire to be elsewhere.
Well, I've said a lot, but don't know if I have accomplished anything. I have also undertaken counseling for this same societal bias...but that has ended for the most part with the counselor saying,'Well, if you're getting along well in other aspects, don't worry about it! Yet, I still wish I could somehow be more widely acceptive of those persons that are less fortunate regarding weight to heights proportionate aspects of their bodies. I've tried to reflect upon anything in my past that might have caused me to feel as I do, and for the life of me, I cannot seize on any single thing. I cannot ever recall being abused as a child or for that matter, ever having been mistreated or abused by a woman of larger size. In summary however, although I can socially interact, and to a degree, socially accept (but never really respect)an overweight woman, beyond that, any other thoughts are wasted energy. Your thoughts on this dilemna would be appreciated.
I give you credit for trying to understand the reason for your fat phobia.
I think the reason that you haven't been able to figure out why you feel as you do is because you have been looking down the wrong path. In other words, you have assumed that the only possible cause of your phobia is the fact that you were abused by a big woman. There are, in fact, so many other reasons why a person might feel as you do. I will name a few, and you can see if any one rings the bell.
First of all, many men associate heavy women with 'mother.' And, while it is normal for every child to feel sexual attraction for his or her parents, these feelings are usually buried from conscious awareness. One reason for this burial is because many people confuse feelings and actions, and since it is unacceptable to act on incestuous desires, these incestuous desires get buried so that there is no danger of action. Later in life, when it comes time to choose a lover or mate, a man will often find that he craves a love object like mom. If mom was heavy, he may be drawn to heavy women. But, since it's not acceptable to'want' mom, the unconscious mind may set up a defense against the wish for mom. One such defense is the feeling of repulsion. And, in this scenario, the mind will say, I don't want mom, I'm repulsed by her. And, this can explain why a man might shun heavy women.
Here's another possibility. Many people assume that heavy individuals are self-indulgent, out-of-control pigs, slobs, etc. I have to say here that while we all know that there are heavy people who overeat, the latest research shows that the vast majority of overweight people do not eat more than slender people. In fact, many overweight people (especially those who carry the bulk of their weight on their stomachs) suffer from a condition called'hyperinsulinemia.' And, what this fancy term means is that carbohydrates are not digested properly, which means that they turn to fat. To make matters worse, the latest dietary recommendations include cutting down on protein and fat and upping carbohydrate intake. As a result of this, many people who suffer from hyperinsulinemia have found themselves getting fatter and fatter, not knowing why. (For more info. on this read Barry Sear's book, The Zone, or any of Dr. Atkin's books.)
I have digressed greatly, but my point here is that the common (and mistaken) view is that all heavy people are pigs.
How does this relate to your repulsion? When someone loathes people that are heavy, they actually despise the greedy, piggy, voracious part of themselves. It is very uncomfortable to hate parts of ourselves, so the mind projects (or deposits) the parts that we hate in ourselves onto someone else. In this way, the self-hate is transformed into other hate, thereby taking the pressure off of the self. So, instead of hating my own pigginess, I will hate the heavy person, who I assume is a pig. And, in doing so, I feel better in my own skin.
These are the two most common explanations for fat phobia. Understanding the real reasons behind the phobia is the first step toward resolution. I hope that this helps.
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L.C.S.W. from "A Life-Changing Exercise for Anyone Who Has Lost a Loved One" published in Psychology Today
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