V's Take

Dear V: Grad school really weighing me down, but will men still see me the same way?

Dear V,

I have always been overweight. As an adolescent I was placed on numerous diets, but nothing worked. Finally, I got a bariatric procedure as a high school graduation gift. I lost a lot of weight and continued to lose through my freshman year. As a sophomore I started to enjoy a social life and a sex life. Now that I am in grad school the weight has crept back and I am heavier than ever. What is worse is that my dating career is dead. Are men so shallow that they only buy into what Hollywood and fashion dictate? I’m still the same me, just jigglier.

-Problems weighing me down

Dear Weighing,

No. No, no, no… no!!!

Allow me to rephrase: Guys are not as shallow as women have them out to be – at least not the right kind of guy. But it also must be said that a man’s perception of a woman’s sex appeal is not up to the man at all. In fact, any woman has the power to control how she is seen by men. Shall I explain?

Many a coed complains about how a peer she deems less physically attractive than herself has managed to win over the affection of a hot guy. She asks why she herself isn’t as romantically successful as this girl. The answer is simple: she’s asking the question in the first place!

The fact of the matter is, if a woman feels she is inferior, then she is inferior. When women have lower levels of self esteem, it is obvious to those around them. A guy could ask himself, “If she doesn’t have much to offer, why should I take it?”

It is clear that you feel this way about your weight, and it doesn’t have to be this way. You are absolutely capable of a sex life.

The first step that you need to take is to change your attitude. Tell yourself what makes you hot. Think about all of the things that make you desirable and would make someone love you. Do this as often as possible, and your attitude will follow. Soon enough, the same guy that might question what you have to offer could be saying, “This chick has a lot to offer! I need in on that!”

Now once you have bettered your mind, you can work on bettering your body. You will find shedding the extra pounds a lot easier once you can think more positively about yourself.

Don’t stress over your image in hopes to land the wonderful Mr. X. You deserve your own admiration first, and then you can give the opposite sex the privilege of offering theirs. It won’t be easy, but I believe you can do it.

Best of luck!

March 25, 2009



Advice Columnist

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Dear V: Grad school really weighing me down, but will men still see me the same way?”

  1. Russell D. says:

    My response to V:

    Your response given to “Problems weighing me down” effectively addresses the issue of her self-esteem and self-image. However, I cannot say that the perspective taken was the best approach. You are completely correct in that “if a woman feels she is inferior, then she is inferior.” A person’s mindset truly is that important. Continually extolling one’s positive traits is a good way to increase self-esteem, as it brings those traits to light more often.

    On the other hand, continually extolling one’s positive traits leads to a person refusing to address his/her negative traits. In the case of “Problems weighing me down,” it is apparent to me that the faulty mindset and perspective causing this weight regain is the mindset regarding nutrition and exercise. What’s more, your response to this girl did not at all address this. It may not be “politically correct” to point out that someone simply has the wrong habits, but blunt honesty does a lot more for a person than does beating around the bush. You failed to address her weight, which she freely admits is the main cause of her social/sex life problems.

    In a world where physical well-being is essential for survival, this is a glaring omission in your response. You encourage this girl to feel good about herself regardless of physical appearance. On the surface, this seems to be an admirable goal. However, at the same time you are indirectly allowing for the acceptance of (physical) mediocrity. It’s not “taking it too far” to say this, either. Research has proven that being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk for life-threatening disease (for example, coronary heart disease; you know, the #1 killer in America).

    Why should we settle? We as a society should strive to make ourselves more apt to survive. What logically follows from this is that we as a society should strive to be physically fit, physically active, and mentally stable. Again, I admire your effort to improve the third of these characteristics (mental stability). However, the most critical aspects of this girl’s situation were not adequately addressed – her physical health and her weight.

    In future, I would advise that in such situations, all aspects of the problems should be addressed. Simply “feeeeeeeeeling” good about oneself is not enough. One must take action physically as well.

    Thank you,

    Russell D.

  2. Russell D. says:

    I responded to this story via e-mail and am not at all certain if the response will be shown at large. Here I offer the response I wrote to “Problems weighing me down”:

    Dear “Problems weighing me down,”

    After reading the question you posed to V in the Hurricane, I was compelled to respond. The response from V adequately addresses the mental aspects of your situation, in that you must feel good about yourself in order to attract another person. Low self-esteem is not attractive, that much is true.

    However, there is one area which concerns me, and which was (unfortunately) not covered in V’s response. This area is that of your mindset toward nutrition and physical health. You say that you “have always been overweight” and that you were “placed on numerous diets,” yet nothing worked. A bariatric procedure worked for a couple years, and then the weight returned.

    What does this tell me, and what should this tell you? The answer is that something is faulty in your physical wellness mindset. Whether it is diet, exercise, or both, you’re missing something. Simply put, a typical person cannot beat a bad diet. I say typical because a very small percentage of people can (and they’re professional bodybuilders… or Michael Phelps in training mode). With a bariatric procedure, to keep the weight off it is necessary to change your diet and enter into a training regimen.

    Clearly, neither occurred. Or, if one/both did occur, they didn’t last for long. This is the most important component of your problem. You have to be physically active and you have to monitor your diet in order to achieve weight and fat loss. For starters, even taking a brisk walk for about 45 minutes a day (in addition to your activities of daily living) can start to improve your aerobic health. As you progress, you will need to enter into a weight training program.

    Yes, weight training. No, not lifting a pink 3-pound dumbbell about 10,000 times: legitimate weight training. Before you say, “But I don’t want to become a bulky bodybuilder type,” listen (well, read). Your body weight is determined by energy intake vs. energy expenditure. If you don’t intake more calories (i.e., eat more) than you expend via activity (i.e., exercise, activity, bodily processes), you won’t gain weight. It’s as simple as that. Thus, you can build a nice feminine body with weight training. It’s a matter of nutrition.

    The biggest obstacle to fat and weight loss is accepting and appreciating its difficulty. Once you accept and appreciate that it is not easy… then, and only then, does it become easy. It becomes habit. You get used to it. How do you achieve this? Monitor your diet for a week or two. Write down what you eat. At the end, take a look; you may be surprised at just how much you’re eating, and the lack of quality foods included. Focus your diet on fruits, vegetables, sprouted grains, lean protein, nuts/seeds, and healthy fats. Subtract or eliminate refined grains, refined sugars, sweets, and much of dairy. After all, we are the only species of being on this earth which drinks the milk of another specie. Think about that.

    As far as exercise is concerned, get a start with walking and simple bodyweight-only exercise at home. There are numerous resources on the Internet for such exercise routines (YouTube in particular has a lot of information – search for Craig Ballantyne). Anaerobic exercise is the best for losing fat/weight, as it increases your metabolism for many hours after a workout.

    I am only scratching the surface with this response. There is much more knowledge and insight I can share, and I am entirely willing to help if there is any possibility of doing so.

    However, I desire to touch on one last issue you raised in your letter, which is the question: “Are men so shallow that they only buy into what Hollywood and fashion dictate?” This is not only insulting to us as men, it is projection. Women are by far the most allured by the fashion, glitz, gossip and standards of Hollywood (how many guys read tabloid magazines, and how many take Cosmo as a bible?).

    Men are hard-wired by biology to want a physically attractive mate. I’m not saying that no man likes women who are overweight (there are some out there… but they’re a marked minority). However, an overweight woman is, on the whole, simply not attractive to a man. It works the same with women; the typical woman doesn’t want a guy with, say, copious back hair, a huge beer belly and severe acne. It’s programmed into us. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that you only go for a guy who looks good to you; as a guess, I’ll go with about 6′, in good shape, nice smile, etc. Is it wrong for a guy to desire a girl who is, for example, about 5’5″, slim and fit figure, with nice hair and eyes? I didn’t think so. Stop projecting and making excuses for a problem that you can control (by improving your physical appearance), and which we as humans cannot control (wanting a physically attractive mate).

    I know this is a lot of information to take in and digest. Despite this, I conclude with a word of encouragement and support. You can beat your weight problems. One thing to do is to have your thyroid levels checked by a doctor. Another is to increase your physical activity (by walking more, starting a beginner weight training regimen via bodyweight exercise at home). However, the #1, most important, CANNOT GET RESULTS WITHOUT IT, component of solving your problem, is DIET and NUTRITION.


    Russell D.

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