Single Mama, Heavy

Today is Easter Sunday, a day where I can’t help but reflect upon the value of family, life, and renewal.

My daughter will turn one in only four days, but technically this is her second Easter. Last Easter she and I were crammed into her father’s car traveling from the NICU in Springfield, Missouri to a pseudo-home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We didn’t really belong there since her father had already moved on with another woman before our child was born. But last Easter Sunday I tried to believe we could coparent and he could be an involved father.

This year my daughter and I are back in my homestate of Minnesota. I am very much missing the family we never had, though I am grateful to have had friends invite us into their homes so this holiday was not quite so solitary. Still somehow I can’t help but think about the father and husband I one day hope to have complete our family life. And since spring has now officially sprung, that means what I really want to talk about is weight.

Nearly a year postpartum, I still haven’t lost the baby weight. And that is weight in addition to excess pounds I was trying to lose even before I became pregnant. There’s no way around the fact that right now I am fat. Everybody knows it.

Often however, it seems people believe I must not know I’m heavy and carrying around excess fat. The other women who look me up and down at the mall. The fellow grocery shoppers who eyeball my cart after throwing me a sideways glance. The single men who will never give me the time of day because they think I’m unattractive.

Today I find myself inspired to speak to those men. Men who overlook a woman because she is heavy and relegate her to the friend zone are people unable to appreciate the value of any woman. They are people who look at the world but do not see. You may feel this is a rather cliché effort to be politically correct. You may argue this is fat acceptance or a viewpoint promoting poor health.

But the truth is that fat women are every bit as valuable as thin ones. They are every bit as deserving of love. Being heavy is not an automatic character flaw–it doesn’t indicate that a woman is lazy, stupid or gross. It doesn’t mean that all she does is eat. It means that she is human and some of her imperfection is visible to the naked eye. In other words, she is human and imperfect just like you, but you have already judged her shallowly with eyes that decided she isn’t good enough you. Perhaps there is some truth to that. It may be that she is more kind or more talented than you could ever appreciate. She might be a strong and loving single mother who loves and refuses to view people as a commodity to be used. Yet you as a highly visual man focused on never settling for anything less than “the total package” are likely missing out on the opportunity to love and be loved by someone who has what you need. All because you think beauty should be… what?

By all means tell me what beauty should be? Is it a heart full of love that longs for justice? Is it a mom who puts her family first and loves unconditionally? How will having a hot wife serve you and your children? If your vision of beauty depends upon a body that isn’t too heavy, how will you later explain to your daughter that she was created beautiful just as she is? If you believe in true equality and goodness in this world, how can you limit romantic love as only available to the physically fit and graceful (for now)?

The truth is that you could marry a woman with a “perfect 10 body” and she could lose it. Cancer could ravage her body. PCOS or hypothyroidism could damage her metabolism. An accident could lead to muscle atrophy. If you can’t see beauty in a heavy woman right now, how will you see it down the road when you are weary from fighting with a woman you thought you knew so well but suddenly disagree with about everything? If you were unable to see beauty in imperfection before you went through a rough patch, how can you see it through or after?

When our idea of what is good or beautiful is limited to only some types of perfection, we actually limit our experience of love. We lie to ourselves that love exists in a vacuum of outer appearance. And in the end we all suffer from such limitations.

As a whole, women tend to be much more skilled at loving by looking past outer appearances. We more frequently see “hot women” with “ugly men” because women excel at the art of getting to know the whole person.

If we expect a specific standard of beauty for our future spouse, we might as well admit right now that we aren’t really wanting to love the entire person, but really, the pretty person. If you are unable to fall in love with or find a fat girl attractive, I can essentially guarantee you are missing the point of falling in love.

Real and lasting love isn’t easy. The deepest love is a choice we make when not choosing love would have been so easy. The only love that lasts the test of time is a love that looks not with the eyes, but with the heart.  And that means the best mate for us may not be the perfect trophy spouse after all. Especially since none of us–including you, guys–is the perfect human specimen.

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