I’ve gained weight since I started dating my boyfriend. I half-jokingly complained to a coworker about this, letting her know that I was this close to starting a legit workout plan, something like Pilates or some other apartment friendly activity I could catch on YouTube, undoubtedly hosted by an overly perky, borderline sociopathic instructor.
My co-worker gave me a matter-of-fact look and smiled: “Oh, girl. You’ve just put on boo weight.”
Boo weight? The fuck?
She explained that boo weight is weight you put on once you start dating someone regularly. This weight is gained by eating out a lot (check), sitting around and marathoning TV shows (check) and just general lazing around and booin’ up (check).
When I relayed this to a friend of mine, she laughed it off, saying that it’s just good fat. “You’re glowing!” she said. While I usually associate the idea of glowing with rounded cheeks and a bigger belly with pregnancy, I agreed with her, for about two seconds. And then I got home, stripped off my clothes, looked in a mirror and groaned. Even if it’s boo weight, I know one thing is certain: I’m not happy with my body, and being in a relationship has only made my body image more delicate than it was before.
Months ago I wrote about the weirdness of hooking up with dudes who are smaller than me. I ended the piece with a tone of confusion and a hint of optimism. My boyfriend read the piece and sent me a text, telling me that he loves my body the way it is. This was enough to turn me into an embarrassing pile of validated mush all over my laptop and I still feel thankful that he said it as if it was a no-brainer.
But now I know that it take more than kind texts to get myself out of my “eugh, my body fucking blows” rut.
As I said in my last post about my body image, I’m a tall, slightly overweight black chick with boobs for days and thighs that are thick and untoned. I feel massive compared to my skinny boyfriend, even though he’s a bit taller than me. When we’re walking down the street, when we’re in bed, when I stretch out his shirts that I sleep in…I feel a bit like a blob. While my height and obsession with high-rise jeans masks the love handles and belly, I can’t hide when I’m naked. What you see is what you get and what you’re getting is 180 pounds of flesh that I wish was only 160 pounds.
I’ve documented other little things I’ve become more aware of since being in a relationship, like the state of my pubes or the fact that I’m really not into cunnilingus. But those observations seem pretty natural in a relationship. You figure out hair preferences and maybe get into a debate about it, or you awkwardly figure out how to breach the topic of what you like and don’t like in bed. But body image issues? Months ago I was more afraid of biting off a penis during a blowjob and less concerned about looking good in my underwear.
I’m convinced that my increase in body image issues definitely coincides with the fact that I parade around half-naked in front of someone other than myself on a regular basis, but I’m not sure why. He has never said a bad word about my body, so why am I bugging? Shouldn’t I feel safer and more confident around someone who loves my body more than I do?
I’ve found myself–in many ways unfairly–relating to Rae Earl, the main character in a British television show called My Mad Fat Diary. She had trouble dealing with the fact that her boyfriend was hot–slight but built–and wondered why the hell he was into her, an overweight music nerd with mental health issues. She agonized over the slight frames and beauty of his ex-girlfriends, drove herself into anxiety spirals over the idea of him seeing her naked…
While her plight is pretty different than mine, I’ve had similar freak outs. My boyfriend ain’t some oiled Adonis in a GQ spread, but I’ve wondered time and time again what he sees in me. I’ve straight up cried myself to sleep over it while my boyfriend tried to comfort me. I suck in my stomach around him. I literally hold in my stomach when I’m around my boyfriend as if doing that will trick him into thinking that he’s with someone more desirable. Whose intelligence am I insulting more, his or mine?
It’s not like I’m going to break up with him because of my own hang ups, but I’m worried that these hang ups will wiggle their way into our relationship in some nasty, fucked up ways. I’ve already begun to talk about potential diets or how bloated I look in my jeans. I’ve become one of those women in bad sitcoms who asks her husband if she looks fat in her dress. How the hell did it come to this, and what am I really looking to get out of it?
Maybe I should keep these hang ups to myself, maybe I should buy a yoga mat, maybe I should stop ordering so much Indian food. Or maybe I should just find a way to make peace with my fucking body.
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