Hello, world. My name's Stephen LaConte, and this is Hey Stephen — a cozy little corner of BuzzFeed where readers like you can DM me for advice.
Today, we've got this woman, whose boyfriend of four years refuses to marry her until she loses weight. Here's what she wrote to me, via Instagram:
You should dump your boyfriend. And I could end my advice right there, because really, all you should do right now is get yourself out of this relationship, stat. But since I know that's a big ask, I'll show my work.
So, let's start here: bodies change. They're meant to change. They were built for it. And gaining weight is normal as we age, whether it's due to a health condition, a change in lifestyle, or our inevitably slowing metabolisms. Whatever the reason, we should try to see it as a blessing, because the only alternative to aging is dying.
You and your boyfriend are talking about spending the rest of your lives together — surely he cannot expect you to have the same body you had when you first met, from now until eternity. And what about his body? At some point, his own shape is going to expand, sag, wrinkle, look nothing like it did when he was young. Will that be permitted? Is his body allowed to change, if yours isn't?
What if you decide to have children? Does he know how pregnancy and childbirth might alter your body, irreversibly and forever? Would that weight gain be acceptable to him? And do you see how fucked up it is to even have to ask?
Even if you don't want children, time will alter both of your bodies in a myriad of unpredictable ways. Stress, work, illness, aging, tragic accidents, grief, global pandemics where you can't leave the couch for a year...all of these things and more may change your body, and they're all meant to be covered under your marriage vows.
I suppose I could point out that 20 pounds gained over four years is hardly notable — but I hesitate to say that, because even notable weight gain would not excuse his behavior. And I could also point out that your weight gain is the result of an autoimmune disease, something completely out of your control — but again, I hesitate to say that, because weight gain within your control would still never excuse his behavior.
Denigrating your appearance, ignoring your illness, calling you "cute" but "no longer attractive," dangling marriage over your head like some prize you'll get when you hit his desired number on the scale — none of this is okay. It's wrong. It's abusive. And it could do you significant harm, if it hasn't already.
I worry that you'll internalize his criticisms of you, that you'll believe him when he tells you that you're not good enough as you are. And I worry this will make you afraid to leave, certain that you don't deserve better. So please believe me when I tell you: You are good enough, you can leave him, and you absolutely deserve better. Your boyfriend is the problem here, not you.
Perhaps you're right when you say that we cannot choose our physical attractions. I don't know. But I do know this: You deserve someone who is attracted to you, not an outline of you. If your boyfriend's sexual attractions are so shallow, so weak, so conditional, that something as inconsequential as weight gain can derail him entirely, then he should not be your partner in life. He shouldn't be anyone's partner in life, for that matter. Life will throw far worse at us than 20 pounds of flesh. He sounds woefully unprepared.
So actually, I guess you DO have some weight to lose here: the man next to you. Fortunately, you won't need any diet or trainer to rid yourself of that. Please dump this man, and find someone more deserving of all the amazing things you have to offer. Good luck. I'm rooting for you.
That's all the advice I'm giving today, folks, but if you've got any words of wisdom for our DM'er, share them in the comments. I'll be reading...
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