How to Help Your Wife with Her Body Image

by | Feb 19, 2020 | Uncategorized | 35 comments

Merchandise is Here!

How do you, as a husband, help a wife who is struggling with seeing herself as beautiful?

This is Keith, Sheila’s husband, and welcome my second installment of “Men’s Corner”!

Once a month, I’m going to write an article mostly aimed at Sheila’s male readers, but hopefully speaking in a way that is accessible to all.  This month, Sheila has asked me to chime in on how a husband can help his wife with her body image issues.  Yikes!  Can anyone say “minefield”?  This is an area many husbands feel great trepidation when approaching, but I hope to disperse that a bit and give you some practical hints on how to help.

Let me start by saying that this post is specifically about how a husband can handle his wife’s body image issues as this is a women’s blog. I recognize that studies show that 20-40% of men also struggle with body image issues.

Please don’t take the fact that I am only addressing the topic from the women’s side as lack of compassion for your plight.  I encourage you to get the help you need from trusted sources for men’s health.

Now with that said, let’s get on to how we can help our wives in this area!

First of all, guys, it is very important to realize that for almost every woman this is a real struggle.

A negative self-image and negative self-talk is something most women battle with on a daily basis.  My wife tells me that if you ask a woman to “name five things she hates about her body” she can give you that list within a matter of seconds. The only struggle she would have is limiting it to five!

For the majority of guys, though, this is completely foreign to our way of thinking. So much so that we can even tend to get a bit dismissive of our wife’s struggle. Sometimes we might even be tempted to think our wife is just saying negative things about herself as a way of fishing for compliments. Gentlemen, I can assure you, they are NOT.

From an all too young age, our wives have been bombarded by media and messages designed to make them discontent about their bodies. It is everywhere and it is relentless.  Under this onslaught, even if they have healthy relationships all around them, they are always being pushed toward seeing their worth and value purely in how they look.

One of the most powerful things we can do for our wives – and our daughters! – is to push back against this message as hard as we can.  And the first step is recognizing it and labelling it for the lie that it is. But what are some practical ways we can do that?

1. Don’t feed the stereotypes of attractiveness that are out there.

Magazine covers, movies, television shows and other media all tend to present an unrealistic idea of what the average woman looks like. Even if the movie/show/whatever is supposed to be about “average people”, the actors playing the roles are usually anything but average in height, weight or overall attractiveness.  And don’t get me started about airbrushing and all that other nonsense!

We men can unwittingly buy into these stereotypes and then subtly or overtly express displeasure in aspects of our wife’s appearance as a result, sometimes without even realizing it.  It probably goes without saying that this can be very damaging to her self-esteem and contribute massively to her body image issues.

Instead, we really need to be promoting the idea that beauty comes in many different shapes and sizes.  I really enjoy British programs, because they tend to do a much better job of presenting a variety of body types and levels of attractiveness than we do over here in North America and I find that very refreshing.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to ignore serious health risks. Obesity and being overweight are medical conditions that are becoming increasingly frequent.  They carry a heavy health burden and need to be addressed.  But even if she does need to lose weight for health reasons, you can be the voice that helps your wife feel beautiful at any size. Support her pursuing a healthy lifestyle that means you will be active and healthy together for longer, but recognize that many women are already telling themselves, “I’ll be beautiful when I’m skinnier.” Do not be another voice contributing to that.

But many times what we as husbands are dealing with is a wife of average size who sighs and says something like, “I need to lose weight.”  Instead of agreeing with her, a good question to ask would be why she feels that way. Is it truly for health reasons? Or does she secretly think you would love her more if she looked different. If so, be quick to reassure her that you love her unconditionally for who she is.

And if it truly is for health reasons, let her know you are willing to support her by making healthier life choice yourself and – most of all – ensure she knows that you love her the way she is right now.

Rebecca Says:

Back about 6 months before I was pregnant, I realized that I had slipped into the “overweight” BMI category. I was shocked at first until I saw the stack of pizza boxes on our recycling bin and thought, “Oh, well that makes sense.”

I asked Connor if he thought that I looked bigger and the man handled it like a champ. He said, “Yeah, we’ve both put on some weight. I think you’re just as beautiful as ever, but we should probably work together to make sure that we get back on a healthy trajectory.”

With his help and his encouragement, by the time I got pregnant I had reached my goal and was a healthy BMI again!

But here’s the catch: for years before he had been building trust with me, never criticizing me for having cellulite or not being a size two. He had shown me so well that he finds me attractive whatever size I am that when I needed to lose weight to maintain good health I knew I could trust him that he was still attracted to me. So men, even if you have a wife who needs to lose weight, if you haven’t put in the leg work to build that trust, don’t expect the conversation to go well! Instead, take you time to show your wife how she can trust you when you say she’s beautiful and then, when the health question comes up, you may find you have more success and a more secure wife!

Rebecca Lindenbach

 2. Don’t let her talk negatively about herself.

Women have a constant negative inner voice criticizing every aspect of their bodies. That’s why naming five things she hates is not a stretch for her!  Never feed in to that and take every opportunity to confront that voice with words of truth and positive affirmation.  When she says something like “My thighs are too fat.”, “My nose is too big”, for instance, then challenge her on it and ask “Why would you say that?” If she says something that you feel is untrue about her body then tell her. “Well frankly, honey, I disagree; I think your nose is beautiful.”

But most of all, remind her that every part of our bodies doesn’t have to be perfect in order for us to be attractive. That is a lie foisted onto us by a society intent on the commodification beauty. Don’t buy into it and help her not to buy into it either.

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3. Never compare her to other women

Or agree with her when she compares herself to other women. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Whether it is comparing possessions, life circumstances or our physical bodies, looking to others for our sense of identity is a terrible trap to fall into. As Christians, our value and worth are found in Christ. We are children of God, who made each of us unique and loves us unconditionally to the point that He was willing to die for us!

That is the well out of which our self-esteem and our identity needs to flow, not how we rank up against others.  Comparing your wife to other women, even in jest, only reinforces all her insecurities.  Even positive comparisons fuel the idea that we should judge ourselves according to others, which we know is a lie.

Always affirm your unconditional love for her and encourage her to find her value in Christ rather than her external appearance.  So the next time she says “Oh, that woman is much prettier than me.” Don’t get trapped into comparison by either agreeing (Is there any guy dumb enough to do THAT?!?) or even over the top contradiction (which she will likely not believe anyway). A more positive approach would be to say: ”She may be beautiful, but so are you. And you are the one I love.”

4. Recognize that women’s bodies change with time and that is NORMAL.

I think I we all know what I mean here; time takes its toll on all of us. Sheila often describes this in her Girl Talks by pointing out things like “Once gravity happens it doesn’t UNhappen.” Having babies results in natural changes to the body which we all have to accept.  (And don’t tell me about that one movie star who had three kids and still has a perfect figure – She has a personal trainer, a maid to clean the house, a cook to make meals for her and a nanny to watch her kids while she goes to the gym two hours every day!)

I was very encouraged to recently hear a husband at a marriage conference saying he felt that the mother of his four children should be proud of her  post-baby figure because she “worked hard for it”. Let your wife know you signed on for the long haul. You know that means you will obviously both change as you age and you are okay with that.  Sheila has begun sighing recently about the few wrinkles she is starting to get, but they don’t make her any less attractive to me.

It may sound sappy, but to me they are a testimony of the years when have spent together, a reminder of all we have been through.  It is sad but true that society’s message is that while age in men may be considered attractive, women do not get the same treatment.  In society’s distorted lens, a man at least has the possibility to age like a bottle of fine wine with the hope of looking better year by year.

Conversely, a woman feels she is combatting a losing battle just to keep what she once had. Have sympathy for your wife’s plight. Remember what I said about not comparing her to other women? Well one of those women is her former self!  Refuse to buy into society’s double standard of beauty and encourage her not to as well. Reassure her that she is still beautiful to you in every stage of life.

From an all too young age, women have been bombarded by media and messages designed to make them discontent about their bodies. It is everywhere and it is relentless. 

Now I can hear some of you men out there already saying, “But I DO say all those things and she is still always unsatisfied with her body.” 

For some of you, you may be tempted to give up as she doesn’t seem to be listening when you try to encourage her.  But let’s contemplate for a second why that might be happening.

First of all, your positive words of affirmation are not the only thing she is hearing.  The voices that are out there encouraging her to be unsatisfied with her body cannot be switched off and they continue to work against the positive things you say. I read somewhere that on average, women have one negative thought about themselves every minute.

So you have to be realistic and recognize that you are fighting an avalanche.  But don’t lose heart! Keep the positive affirmations coming.  Although there are no guarantees – no magic number of times you can say she is beautiful in her own way that will suddenly change everything – it is true that the more she hears positive from you the more likely she will start to believe it.

Secondly, try to remember that these negative self-critical thoughts have a real history in her life.  If she has been hearing one message for the past twenty years, don’t expect she will drop all that after you say nice things to her consistently for a week or two.

The truth is, if you are going to help your wife with the body image battle you need realize you have signed on for a prolonged campaign, not just a brief skirmish!  Be willing to walk with her through this and keep giving the same message of love and acceptance. A consistent message over a prolonged time can make it easier for her.

Many men tell me that their wives tend to dismiss their positive comments with remarks like “You’re only saying that because you have to” or “You’re just being nice.” Try not to get frustrated or upset when she discounts the positive things you say like that. Instead, see that as an indication of how deep set her insecurities can be sometimes.  When she says things like that, you may feel that she is not listening to you, but a husband’s words are very powerful to his wife.

Keep saying the words that build her up. You ARE making a difference.

One last thing I would suggest is to be careful about saying how much it hurts you when she says negative things about herself.  I worry that for some women, that might only make her clam up entirely as well as adding guilt to the maelstrom of emotions she feels when she looks in the mirror.

Instead, if you feel that way, tell her you are honestly worried that her negative self-talk is unhealthy for her and depriving her of joy.  Often depression and anxiety are linked to struggles with body issues. Let her know that for the sake of her mental health, she ought to try to make her self-talk more positive and reassure her that you are definitely on board with helping her in that fight.

So now it’s your turn! Tell me what resonated with you or what I missed. Are there other ways that you have found to deal with body image issues in your marriage? And feel free to leave suggestions of other topics for upcoming “Men’s Corner” blog posts!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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35 Comments

  1. Anon

    I don’t know if it is just an issue here in the UK (and by the way, we may cast more realistic people in our films, but I think the level of negativity toward women’s appearance is just as toxic) but one issue I struggle with is the whole mis-teaching around the right attitude a Christian woman should have toward her appearance. For years, I heard that ‘good girls’ aren’t concerned with their appearance as long as they are ‘modest’. To enjoy receiving a compliment about your looks is a sign of ‘pride’ or ‘worldliness’. In my head, I know those messages are a distortion of the Bible’s teaching – but they are so prevalent that it makes it very hard to respond well when my fiance tells me I’m beautiful!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      That’s so interesting! I can totally see how that would mess with your head–but the Bible clearly has no problem with women knowing they’re beautiful as it describes many women as having immense beauty! Vanity, in my mind, isn’t about simply caring about your appearance; it’s about giving your appearance/looks/outward things more power than they are due. Does that make sense? What do you think?

      Reply
      • Anon

        Rebecca, I totally agree with you – and since God made us anyway, appreciating the good things about our faces and bodies is just appreciating what He has made. It’s just hard sometimes to find the right balance in between the ‘you must look good to please your fiance/husband’ and ‘you mustn’t care about your appearance as that’s immodest’!!!
        BTW, parents need to be particularly alert to the damage that can be inflicted on their daughters by well-meaning Christians. Even if YOU are teaching good messages to your girls, it doesn’t follow that they won’t be receiving bad messages from their church Bible class, youth group etc.
        When I was 13, I was invited to a girls’ event at church – it was billed as teaching about inner/outer beauty, looking at healthy eating, how to care for ourselves physically and how to develop Godly character. It all sounded great, and my parents were happy for me to attend. The first thing we were asked to do when we got there was to write down the thing we ‘most hated’ about our bodies & faces. When I said I couldn’t do this because I didn’t hate any of my features, I was told there ‘must’ be something about my appearance I didn’t like! Eventually, I chose my nose – not because I disliked it, but because one of my friends hated her nose, and I thought if I chose the same thing, it might make her feel better. We were then given tips on how to ‘minimise’ the offending features!
        The crazy thing is that after this, I hated my nose – even though I hadn’t thought twice about it before. It took YEARS before I stopped being self-conscious about my nose in photos – and even now, if I ‘hate’ a photo of myself, it’s most likely my nose that is the offending feature. Yet it’s really a perfectly normal nose! My parents had NO idea that this kind of ‘teaching’ was going on, and would have been horrified if they had known. So please be aware that your daughters can be receiving damaging messages even in the place which should be safe for them.

        Reply
    • April

      I agree. I’ve gotten these messages too. But, I have also gotten another message from Christian teaching. That in order to be a good wife, make sure that you don’t “let yourself go.” Always dress nice, do your hair and makeup. And make sure that you exercise regularly and eat cleanly so that you don’t put on weight. Or you husband may stray.
      Frustrating to hear both messages from the Christian sphere on top of what we receive from the world.
      Husbands – please do not tell your wife: “I cannot believe you feel so down on yourself. You being insecure reflects poorly on me. I only make good choices, and because I think you are beautiful, you should too because I wouldn’t choose something that wasn’t.”

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our churches were full of women who simply enjoyed the beauty that God gave us, regardless of how we compared against other women/our peers? Women who enjoyed treating our bodies well because we truly understand how God sees us and what a gift our physical bodies are? Women who can graciously accept a compliment from their husband, friends, family without thinking “They’re just being nice.”?
        Dressing nicely, eating well and exercising, doing your hair are good things to do! But not when done from a place of fear or obligation. Honestly what my dad (Keith) was saying in this article about dads having a huge impact on their daughters is so true, and he gave me and my sister a HUGE gift by how he spoke to us in our teenage years. He really did walk a line really well where he was able to compliment us and tell us how beautiful he thought we were without encouraging vanity or ignoring when we were getting out of shape (mostly me 🙂 ). And so even though I also grew up hearing those messages I don’t think they affected me quite as much.
        Interestingly, my husband has actually used the “you think I’m hot, you know I wouldn’t go for someone who wasn’t also attractive, so logically you need to realize you must be attractive because I’m attracted to you” line before and it worked SO WELL with me! I wonder if that’s because I’m a very logical thinker and it helps me to have concrete evidence to reflect back on?
        That whole “you being insecure reflects poorly on me” thing is weird–do people actually say that? But overall I think instead of saying “never say this” or “never say that” it needs to be about the individual couple and what their personalities are. (For example, I actually DO want my husband to tell me if a dress makes me look fat so that I can trust when he says the next one doesn’t! But obviously that would be horrible advice to many many men because you have to know how to speak to your individual wife.)

        Reply
        • April

          Thankful you had a great dad to help in that area.
          I see your point. I want to know if I’m not wearing something that’s not flattering, but I think it can be done with grace and love and without making it about the husband. Being motivated by empathy and compassion can go a long way to getting it right even if there are bumps in the road.

          Reply
          • Jane Eyre

            Years ago, I was in a dressing room, trying on a dress that didn’t quite look right on me. I wanted to like it more than I did, but thankfully, a very tactful woman said, “You have a nice figure and that does not flatter it.” The focus was then on the clothing, not inadequacies in my body. It’s messaging that I’ve liked and used since when helping friends to shop.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, I’m going to remember that! I love that.

        • Anon

          “I actually DO want my husband to tell me if a dress makes me look fat so that I can trust when he says the next one doesn’t!”
          Totally get this! A couple of weeks back, I was wandering round a charity shop (I think you call them ‘thrift shops’?) with my fiance and found a really good coat. I tried it on and asked him what he thought – “You CAN tell me if I look fat in it – I really want to know”. He said it was too bulky and wasn’t flattering on me. I’ve found it much easier to believe him when he compliments me since then, because I know that he has been honest when I didn’t look good in something!

          Reply
    • Natalie

      This is a great point Anon & definitely not just a UK Christian thing. I got plenty of that teaching in the US too. Valuing your looks was seen as an ungodly things to do since that was vanity. But then for me, I was also told by adults regularly growing up that I was beautiful and attractive and should be in movies or a model. (Mind you, the boys never told me that, only the adults. And that made me feel like “well, if the grown ups think this, why don’t the boys around me? What’s wrong with me that they don’t like me? Clearly I’m not as attractive as the adults tell me I am). That made me feel like my looks were inherently ungodly and like I had to seriously downplay my looks and try to make myself look unattractive (particularly in Christian environments) so that other people didn’t look at me and think I was flaunting or being an ungodly witness. It was all very confusing for me growing up, hard to juggle mentally, and ultimately was just another knock against my already average-to-low self-confidence.
      Possibly the best thing about getting older is that there is a direct inverse relationship between my increasing fine lines and wrinkles and how much stock I put on the compliments from others and what other people think and say about my looks. 😉

      Reply
  2. Phil

    Last week my wife went through that negative list with me. I failed. I was caught off gaurd and I didnt know what to say so I said nothing. I suppose my silence is just as bad as saying negative things. Looking back I cant believe I didnt say I love you just the way you are. Duh! Of course I know thats what I should be saying. I guess I need to read articles like this to remind me of what I need to do as a good husband. Thanks for writing this.

    Reply
    • G

      Errr…. Just to be clear, saying nothing is NOT as bad as saying negative things. At all! I do think husbands should support their wives in improving their self-image and encourage them to better their mental health.
      But it’s also our responsability as women to learn to counter those messages and lies in our minds. I’m not blaming women for feeling bad about their bodies. That clearly comes from somewhere. But we are the only ones who can change how we think about our bodies.

      Reply
      • Phil

        Thanks for the encouragement G. Sometimes I am hard on myself. I want to be better than I am. I appreciate your comment.

        Reply
  3. G

    Compliments about things other than our bodies can also do wonders. Sometimes we get so down about how we look because we’re obsessing over it and not focussing on anything else about ourselves. Feeling intelligent, capable, accomplished, having our character complimented can actually do wonders for our body image because it decenters our looks and our bodies a bit. It’s harder to hate how we look so much if it’s just not as important. That’s been my experience anyway!

    Reply
    • Meghan

      Amen sister! We are so much more than bodies!

      Reply
  4. Lydia purple

    I would add one more thing: tell your wife to unfollow anybody on social media who feeds these negative thoughts on body image.
    Why spend hours looking at perfect fake pictures of strangers who make you feel bad?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is so true. My daughters have commented on this phenomenon a lot.

      Reply
  5. Doug

    Thanks for a great reminder. It is something I did not do well for many years. Between it just feeling phoney to me, and me telling myself “that’s not how I am”, I was really not good at building my wife up.
    It still feels awkward, because it isn’t who I am, and it isn’t how I generally talk, but vonvictuon led me to be different. When I first started complimenting my wife regularly, I think she had difficulty believing me, but I kept it up and regularly tell her she is beautiful. It took awhile, but her reticence and reluctance to believe me fell away and now when I say it she brightens up, and accepts the compliment graciously. I make a point to slways tell her she looks beautiful when she has made an effort, like getting ready for church, etc, but I also started addressing her as “Hey, Gorgeous” or something similarly when I answer the phone, or when I send her a text. It still isn’t “who I am”, and I suspect it will always feel weird to me, but the payoff in seeing her gradually start believing it herself was priceless.
    Not only that, but she has always been very casual in her appearance, but she started dressing up more, and even changed her appearance in small ways to please me.
    It just goes to show that we men have more influence, both good and bad, than we might think.

    Reply
  6. Jane Eyre

    “First of all, your positive words of affirmation are not the only thing she is hearing. The voices that are out there encouraging her to be unsatisfied with her body cannot be switched off and they continue to work against the positive things you say. I read somewhere that on average, women have one negative thought about themselves every minute.
    So you have to be realistic and recognize that you are fighting an avalanche. ”
    It occurs to me that this is true of anything good and true. In our fallen world, we are all fighting an avalanche of messages telling us that we aren’t good enough (for each other, for our families, for God), sin is just as good as virtue, and our worth is dependent upon factors other than God.

    Reply
  7. AB

    This is a great article I plan to share with my husband. However, it doesn’t mention anything regarding a husband having pictures of scantily clad or naked women on his phone, and the affect it can have.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Yes, AB, definitely wives who are in that position need to have a frank and honest discussion about how their husband’s pornography use can have a serious effect on her ability to trust him or how she sees herself. Thank you for adding that.

      Reply
  8. Doug

    I know this was addressed to the men here, and it was an important message for us.
    With that said, most of the readers here are women, and you should know your husbands have their own insecurities, and you have the means to tear your men down or build them up with your own remarks. My wife is a big time sports fan, and over the years has idolized one celebrity athelete or another, and was quite vocal in her admiration. I have matured enough that I don’t take it personal as much as I used to, but it used to be a pretty big hurt. Ine of the worst incidents involved an actor whi was playing a Special Forces officer in a movie, and she commented on how hit he looked in his green beret. I spent a year of my life actually training and earning one, and shed a great deal of sweat and blood for it, but somehow that didn’t measure up to some actor playing a role in a movie.
    Just be aware that sword cuts both ways. Remarks that you might make innocently enough can be just as damaging when the shoe is in the other foot.

    Reply
    • Blessed Wife

      Thank you for your service!
      I think it’s fair to say that making a point of building up your spouse and giving thought to what makes them feel good should be a major concern for both sexes.

      Reply
  9. Gabrielle

    Since you clearly genuinely care about this issue PLEASE look into the concept of Health at Every Size. Please explore all the research of how attempting to lose weight for “health” reasons actually CAUSES eating disorders, weight cycling, and other health problems.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      The HAES method is an interesting one, but from what I have seen research has not actually found if it is a useful tool for losing weight when there are health risks involved.
      Yes, people who lose weight for health reasons can sometimes have these issues–but is it then better that they stay obese by using methods like HAES instead? No, and the HAES method has not been found to be an effective weight loss strategy for those in obesity categories II and III, from the research I have seen. The problem is that obesity is a result of an eating disorder much of the time, and similar to how an anorexic needs to know that he/she needs to put on weight to be healthy but that is not the whole picture, people with binge eating disorder that has led to obesity need to lose weight to be healthy but it is also not the whole picture. We need to be honest with ourselves about risk, and the HAES method simply does not address that. Many people need to lose weight, medically, and I hope that we as a society find a way to talk about this where it’s honest, but also not encouraging disordered eating behaviours to fix the eating disorder in the first place.
      Here’s an interesting article explaining the limitations but hopeful next steps of the HAES method as a public health response: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4386524/
      And one from the Journal of Eating Disorders that outlines how preventative measures (among which they seem to include HAES) are absolutely necessary in order to “do no harm”, but the HAES method and those like it may not work as a treatment for those already in high-risk categories in terms of health:
      https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2050-2974-2-8

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        I also want to add that there is a difference between the expectations seen on shows like The Biggest Loser where contestants lose 200 pounds by starving themselves and working their bodies to a point where they may suffer musculo-skeletal issues and losing weight to simply reduce risks. Many people who suffer from morbid obesity will always struggle with their weight, but that does not mean we should not try especially when studies show that a loss of only 5-10% of body weight can substantially reduce medical risks when a person is in the obese category.

        Reply
      • Meghan

        I think the disconnect here is that you’re assuming that weight loss should be the desired health outcome, whereas HAES is about encouraging healthy habits regardless of weight. It’s about pushing for medical professionals to stop telling their overweight patients that all their problems are because they’re fat and if they just got off the couch and stopped shoving their faces full of pizza then they wouldn’t have health issues (yes this is actually a huge problem in America and is the reason why fat people like me don’t want to go to the doctor until we absolutely have to…so tired of doctors assuming I’m a lazy slob who eats like crap just because of my size).
        Taking weight out of the picture and focusing instead on eating well and exercising and making other healthy choices like going to checkups has helped a lot of people, including me. Once I stopped caring so much about what the scale said, it was actually a thousand times easier to make consistent lifestyle changes like eating a diet that is basically Whole30 and taking up running and weightlifting.
        And guess what? I haven’t lost any weight. Thanks PCOS. But I am so so much healthier than ever before, and I feel much better too. That’s why we’re saying the desired outcome should be healthy habits, not weight loss.

        Reply
        • Lea

          I agree Meghan. I think HAES has been demonized as a fat acceptance type movement (and since people hate fat they hate it) and maybe there is some overlap, but the concept I appreciate is people focusing on things that are healthy regardless of weight loss?
          Getting exercise is good for you. Getting sunshine, outdoors, yoga, whatever, is good for you. Decreasing stress, getting more sleep, eating fruits and vegetables….there are so many things you can do your health that may or may not result in weight loss but still improve outcomes. Focusing on those things and not throwing them out as a ‘failure’ because they did not result in weight loss is a problem.
          Many people would benefit in addition with simply maintaining weight. I am not anti weight loss, I lost 35 pounds last year and am working on more. I still see value in the concept. People have ruined their health trying to lose weight, through disorders, diet pills, etc. I think HAES can be an overall good.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I totally agree that health should be the focus, Lea! Completely. Losing weight in unhealthy ways is worse in many ways.
            At the same time, it is not possible to be healthy long term at every size. it is possible to be healthIER at every side, but not healthy. In the long term, you will develop joint and knee pain; hip pain; etc. from excess weight, even if you never develop cardiovascular disease.
            We simply have to be real about this. There should be an impetus to lose weight once you are the weight that health problems, including long term problems like joint problems, are pretty much guaranteed. Now, the way we lose weight should focus on healthy ways, like eating properly, exercise, etc., and also I think on dealing with emotional issues and trauma which may cause overeating in the first place. But we still do need to be real that too much weight is just not good. It really isn’t.

          • Lea

            “it is possible to be healthIER at every side”
            This is exactly the point though. Healthier is good. Let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good. Small steps in the right direction should be encouraged, whether they ‘fix’ all problems or not.
            And so many people dieting are at a healthy weight, especially teenagers. If they were just told that a few pounds is actually ok, and to do healthy things and try not to gain, there would probably not be nearly so many overweight adults, imo. People get into a toxic diet cycle and end up gaining overall. It’s very sad.

          • Meghan

            Well then I will never be healthy, and neither will anyone else with chronic illnesses or disabilities.

  10. Anna

    There is nothing, not one thing, husband could say that would negate the message he has given me from his decades of porn use. Actions always speak louder than words, either positive or negative.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, Anna. I really am.

      Reply
    • Betrayed wife

      I wish this would have been addressed in the article along with a mans wandering eyes. He can say what he wants to try to make me feel better but the minute his eyes stray, it says a different message.

      Reply

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