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Swelling Herself Short While pregnant, I gained 80 pounds. Before, I was 5'8", 118 lbs. (size 3 or 5), and I always wore slim-fitting jeans and miniskirts. In the first six months after giving birth, I lost 35 lbs. I'm now at the 13 month mark, and I haven't lost another ounce. I'm currently 163 pounds, a womanly size 12 or 14. I have accepted my new figure, but my husband hasn't. He continues to buy me expensive clothes in size 5, telling me to set them aside until I can fit into them again. I love my husband, but I don't feel good wearing sexy clothes, and I highly doubt I'll ever even be a size 10. How can I get my husband to accept my fuller figure?

--More To Love

When a man buys a sports car, he doesn't expect it to morph into a cargo van.

After two years waiting patiently, your husband's itching for his sleek little street machine. Okay, so maybe he can't get that exact body style, but at the very least, he must be hoping for a sedan. Something's gotta give (something besides the elastic waistband on your size 14 pants). While your hub probably loves you, and is loath to seem the ingrate (since his baby-making participation was only in the fun part, not the fat part), he can't push a button and turn himself into a chunky-chaser. Unfortunately, attraction doesn't operate on the salad bar principle, where, one day, you simply decide to fill your plastic bowl with Jell-O cubes instead of mixed beans. In other words, the only malleable thing here is the diameter of your back end.

Have you known many men who flit off to department stores if they aren't forced at wifepoint, or if their last article of clothing has yet to disintegrate off their bodies? Your husband isn't really shopping, but engaging in a nonverbal form of begging. Male sexuality is all about the visuals. That's why men's magazines are filled with pictures of naked women with freakishly large breasts while women's magazines are filled with pictures of lip gloss. And that's why, according to What Women Want-What Men Want, by anthropologist John Townsend, studies show that a man's "marital satisfaction" (but not a woman's) directly correlates to how much of a babe he finds his spouse.

As lovely as it is that you've "accepted (your) new figure," you aren't the one who has to rappel to your erogenous zones. Luckily, putting the moan back in matrimony doesn't take rocket science, just eating right and daily exercise. See a Registered Dietitian (eatright.org) for help with what goes in, and take up walking with a baby backpack or a sports stroller for what should come off. Yes, yes, you're exhausted, overwhelmed, and your nipples look like something out of Olduvai Gorge. Tell your husband you need help in the baby-care and time off departments so you can stop "accepting" your new figure and start removing it, and watch how fast he gets an army of nannies marching in to pick up the slack.

Maybe you'll never again be able to wear those little rubber pencil protectors as skirts when all your clothes are in the laundry. But, perhaps the larger issue isn't that you're no longer a size five, but that you no longer act like one. So, you have a little more stuff to strut these days. Maybe if you dress your stuff up, complete with a waistline, and actually strut it, you'll feel more like a sex kitten than a CAT tractor, and look more like your husband's hot wife than his fat friend.

Posted by aalkon at October 18, 2005 1:02 PM


>>When a man buys a sports car, he doesn't expect it to morph into a cargo van.>>

That's always good for a person's self-esteem, to be compared to depreciating commodities or chattel.

Posted by: cosmicmojo at January 5, 2006 11:45 AM

That's because you have a weak grasp the subject. Hint: It's called "self-esteem," not "what other people think of me esteem."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 5, 2006 3:26 PM

--That's because you have a weak grasp the subject. Hint: It's called "self-esteem," not "what other people think of me esteem."--
Right on! I find a great deal of the "opinions" expressed after the advice column follow this format.
Righteous and Holy fury!
How dare you tell some one the truth! I mean, really. Telling it like it is.
People wander around convinced of inalienable right to denegrate what amounts to nothing more than common sense.
People in general are fueled by the "appetites".
If someone wants sushi, they eat sushi. If they like ferraris, they will scrape away the cash or continue to dream and stare at the pics on magazines.
What I see here is a whole lot of people being totally honest with themselves and their significant others. Sometimes the truth hurts.
But is this not better than this husband wandering off and finding the appetite fix at another deli counter?
Maybe he is a little shallow, but its still his "aapetite" he is looking to satisfy. And really, when we go into a restaurant, we dont expect the exact same meal EVERYTIME...(read: identical)
We just expect the same food to show up...
More or less

Posted by: Kotora at January 29, 2006 9:04 AM

THANK YOU! The truth may hurt a bit, but it's still the truth. This may be just the wake up call she needs to get it together for herself and her marriage.
I think her underlying issue is that she thinks she has to trade sexy for mommy and that he should have expected this. We don't have to sacrifice our womanhood for motherhood. We can have both and most men would rather us have both.

Posted by: Christine at March 3, 2006 2:51 PM

The last bit of the advice is key.

I gained a lot of weight this year. I am now going to start taking it off. Am I going to hide myself in baggy, stained t-shirts and oversized jeans while I wait for the weight to leave? Hell no! I'm wearing silk scarves, and cute skirts, and shoes with a bit of heel. I have waist-long hair that my boyfriend loves. I wear it down around him. I wear lipstick and mascara.

The weight will take a while to come off, that's just a fact! But in the mean time:
- Buy some attractive clothes. Do NOT buy the same ones you would wear if you were thin, they will not look good on you.
- Are your boobs bigger now that you're fat? Maybe you can work that angle. Corsets look hot on women who have big boobs and butt, if you're that shape. Wear one in the bed room. Candlelight will play down your cellullite and stretch marks If you're a different shape, find something else.
- Get a makeover
- Make sure your hair is nice.

You will be very sexy when you're thin, but it doesn't mean you can't be pretty sexy now. Keep working on the weight, but make sure that while you're a fat chick, you're a hot fat chick.

Also, its easier to lose weight when you're feeling good.

-A hot, shrinking, fat chick

Posted by: Nicole Shields at March 23, 2006 4:03 AM

Nicole is a hot, shrinking smart chick.

And a suggestion - a couple of good books -

Diets Don't Work by Bob Schwartz
The Fat Fallacy by Will Clower

both are linked on my book picks page (see red links upper left)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 23, 2006 7:46 AM

I love your advice. At least, I loved it until this column.

Pregnancy changes a woman's metabolism. As hard as she tries, it may be impossible for her to ever be that sleek little machine again.

My mother was a scant 100pounds when she got married at 18 years of age. After her first child, she got back to 110 pounds. After her second, she never managed to go below 120 pounds. After her fifth child, she never managed to lose all that weight. Now, at the ripe old age of 60, she weighs somewhere around 170. It's not that she's stopped trying to lose the weight. She exercises and eats remarkably healthy. However, her metabolism has changed completely. She'll never be 100 pounds again, and it wouldn't be healthy for her to attempt it.

I was 100pounds when I was 18. By the time I was 25 (with no children, incidentally), I weighed 125 pounds. I am now married, still with no children, 27 years old and 140 pounds. Life has changed my body. I work out faithfully, I watch everything that goes into my body. I even dieted. Short of starving myself, I'll never be that sleek little machine I used to be.

Women change. Our bodies change. Even with diet and exercise, it's not possible to be perfect little size 5's our whole lives. It's not possible AND it's not healthy.

As a woman, Amy, surely you understand that???

Posted by: Rebekah at April 21, 2006 1:13 PM

A 5'8''' woman of medium frame should weigh around 135-140, not 118. Exercise and healthy diet are all well and good, but if this lady expects to get back down to her pre-pregnancy weight, it's not only unrealistic but unhealthy., especially if she's nursing.

Posted by: Sue at June 10, 2006 10:02 AM

I'm sorry, did you see a picture of the woman's "medium frame" that I didn't? I'm 5'9" and weigh around 130, but I don't weigh myself very often, so there may be some variance in that. I don't diet, but I do eat like a French girl (small portions of protein, vegetables, and dessert, NEVER low-fat or diet food, and a croissant or a doughnut every day [although I only eat half or less of an American croissant, and half a doughnut, because I'm not hungry for more]). Anyway, my old assistant is 5'10" and probably weighs 115 or so, because she has a thin body shape. Ectomorph, I believe it's called. It's so amazing how you're so willing to pronounce what is and isn't healthy for a woman you've never seen. What I do know, generally speaking, is that Americans are fat, and probably because they eat too much food, low-fat or no-fat food, high fruc corn syrup, and low-quality meat, fish, and chicken.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 10, 2006 1:28 PM

I know I'm coming in a little late in the game, but I just had to comment. I have a 2 year old, so I know the problems with losing the post pregnancy weight...I however, have absolutely no sympathy for this woman. You have to try excessively hard to gain 80 pounds in the first place. She can't seriously expect any rational person to except the excuse that she was pregnant, so she had to "eat for two".

Sue stated that it's unhealthy & unrealistic for a breast feeding woman to try to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight. Are you kidding me?!? I lost the most weight when I was breast feeding. It's called a balanced diet and exercise. Add a little one's constant demand to be fed and your body's metabolism jumps into over-drive.

I'm amazed that women use the baby excuse to balloon up and then complain that their husbands/ boyfriends/significant others don't find them as attractive. Just because you're married, you shouldn't use it as a free pass to let yourself go and expect the other person to be okay with it.

Posted by: Amanda at June 12, 2006 12:25 PM

Amanda, you're wise. Thank you so much for commenting. And I worked on this question when my assistant at the time was pregnant. For her baby shower, I bought her a running stroller so she could get back in shape. I went to her Christmas party and there she was, her figure cute as ever, in a little red dress.

Keeping your husband hot for you is an important -- no, hugely essential part of being married. Understanding male sexuality (it's very visual) and working to appeal to it is a huge part of it. Sorry, all those victim feminists who contend that men and women are exactly the same...they're not. Those girls should have been taking biology classes instead of engaging in Andrea Dworkin worship. Male and female sexuality and psychology directly correspond to the physical differences (and thus the corresponding evolutionary adaptations).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 12, 2006 12:31 PM

if a man makes you feel that you have to lie all the time to make yourself feel good what does this mean?

Posted by: Faye at June 27, 2006 8:58 PM

While I agree this girl needs to lose some weight, I think any man who bases his love and support on the weight of his wife is a loser.

If he really wants to help her, he'll stop buying her size 5 clothing and offer to join the gym with her. Having a supportive workout partner goes a lot farther towards helping someone get in shape than giving gifts that scream "YOU'RE A FAT ASS".

Posted by: Marcheline at October 25, 2006 11:25 AM

"While I agree this girl needs to lose some weight, I think any man who bases his love and support on the weight of his wife is a loser."

I'm always a little irritated when people make comments like this. Of course, there's more to a person than the exterior.

There's a difference between love and attraction. Male sexuality is highly visual. Is it fair to a guy to get really fat? Forget how to be supportive and all that. A man isn't likely to be attracted to a woman who blimps out, even a woman he loves, unless he was a chubby chaser to begin with.

Sorry to all you victim feminists out there, but men and women are not the same, and male sexuality and female sexuality are not the same. Men are highly visual. Men are highly visual. Shall I say it again? If you let yourself go, ladies, you're unlikely to remain in your relationship, or in a relationship in which your partner is faithful.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 26, 2006 3:24 AM

My son is now 13 months old. before I had him I a size 7 noe i am a size 11. maybe im different because breastfeeding did nothing to help my weight problem. I breastfeed until he was 11 months old. I excercised and ate right but i cant seem to lose the weight. I was really down on myself because of that. My husband always tells me how beautiful I am and tells me he loves me. He also offers to go to the gym with me. If he was buying me a size 5, i would think he was calling me fat. How would that help my self esteem at all?

Posted by: MARKEYSHA HOLMES at October 31, 2006 10:17 AM

In telling you he'd go to the gym with you, he's telling you he needs you to lose weight. If I were you, I'd also see a university-based clinician who does research in dietary issues -- too many doctors aren't up on science. Read the work of investigative science journalist Gary Taubes for good, data-based work on diet. Also, there's more here; http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2006/10/sitting_in_firs.html

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 31, 2006 11:15 AM

He's obviously buying her size 5 clothing as a subtle hint to drop the weight. Sure there might be more direct ways to approach the problem, but make no mistake - it is a problem.

In my marriage, my ex-wife gained weight. A lot. Went from a size 5 to a size 14, just like the woman above. And I? Well, as I had been trained by my feminist mother and her friends, I was supportive and caring and told her it didn't make any difference in how I felt about her, and did all the things the self-righteous people above suggest. I started low-key exercise and invited her to join in, etc.

She never really accepted her new weight, and became extremely unhappy. Our sex life completely deteriorated. Eventually we divorced (though I'm not saying this was the reason).

I wish someone had had the balls to tell her to get herself in shape, even if it was for her own good. That's the only thing that works. And it makes you healthy and improves your quality of life, too. Amazing.

No, what's amazing is that people are out there defending being fat as acceptable and healthy and normal.

Posted by: Jay at October 31, 2006 1:05 PM

Sad. They actually try to get me fired from papers for telling it like it is. Sorry to hear about what you went through -- hope you're on to a wiser woman.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 31, 2006 3:31 PM

u should always remember you look great and beautiful and sexy and lusty and carnal and


i am off to buy some colgne


Posted by: ggggg at January 19, 2007 10:22 AM

This article just goes to show that all that is required for people to lose weight is a sensible healthy diet and some regular exercise. Also the fact that the childrens parents had to be told that they were obese before they decided to take any action i WBR LeoP

Posted by: John Medicine at March 10, 2007 5:43 PM

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