I am 26 years old and have been having a hard time with shidduchim. The problem has always been my weight. I am more than 50 pounds overweight. Even though I take good care of myself aside from my weight, guys have always rejected me because of the extra pounds.
A few months ago, my neighbor introduced me to her nephew. At first he did not complain about my weight, and we have been having a lot of fun going out on dates and talking on the phone.
In our last conversation, he asked me, “What would it mean to you for us to get married?” I was so excited to hear those words, so I answered, “It would mean so much to me.” He responded, “Lose weight and we will get engaged.” I quickly agreed.
I started a liquid diet and my parents became furious. They say that this guy has no right to demand that I lose weight to marry him. They tell me that it is dangerous to marry such a guy, because if I gain the weight back, he could divorce me. They want me to break up with him immediately. Are they right? Do you think that he will get turned off if I lose weight but then gain it back?
By Baila Sebrow
Your parents are not the only ones who have the right to be furious. Any level-headed person hearing this story would become infuriated upon becoming aware of such an ultimatum. I know that you like this boy, but for him to demonstrate such chutzpah by implying that unless you lose weight he will not marry you is outrageous. For all anyone knows, he might deliberately be placing this roadblock in the hopes that you will not come through with your end of the deal.
Being in shidduchim these days is a difficult stage for most single girls. Those who do not fit the accepted mode of appearance tend to suffer even more. Oftentimes, girls who are overweight are repeatedly told that it is their weight that is holding them back from finding a shidduch. As a shadchan, I am not entirely convinced of that.
I have seen many girls who are overweight get married. At the same time, there are many thin girls who are not even getting dates. If you look around your own community and observe the many young married women, you will find that not everyone is slim, and many are struggling with weight issues. To be fair, it is quite possible that the overweight girls might be a bit more open-minded than their thinner counterparts. It is likely that their willingness to date guys whom their non-overweight friends would not consider might, in essence, be bringing them to the chuppah sooner.
Putting shidduchim or any particular guy aside, do you realize that you may be putting your health and possibly, G‑d forbid, your life in danger? People use liquid diets because they are known to promote quick weight loss. These diets decrease calories to such an extent that the weight one loses is not necessarily just fat, but lean mass as well. The foolish aspect of such a diet is that not only are you likely to regain the weight once you get back to the routine of eating, but there is a danger to your body on the whole.
Depriving yourself of healthy nutrients can create digestive and immune system problems, amongst other issues. The greatest danger is that some of the chemicals contained in liquid diets have the potential to raise blood pressure even in young, vigorous people. I do not mean to scare you, but there have been reports of fatalities resulting from self-imposed harsh diets. No one should start a crash diet without the guidance of a qualified physician who knows and understands one’s overall health history.
The way you describe things, it sounds like you did not consult a physician but rather prescribed your own diet. It is easy to appreciate how you got caught up in this frenzy. Meeting someone you like and can have fun with is no small thing. It takes some people many years to find someone they feel comfortable and compatible with. If it means losing weight just not to lose the guy, it is understandable that you felt compelled to do whatever it takes to get rid of those unwanted pounds.
All of that would be fine if you signed up for a healthy program involving nutritious meals in conjunction with exercise. But being that this boy gave you an ultimatum, you felt afraid to embark on a diet program that could take months to work, and instead went for the quick fix.
With regard to your dating dilemmas and rejections that you previously endured, I do not know the type of boy you have been looking for in a potential husband. But I will say the following: Marrying a boy on the condition that you will lose weight would be a self-destructive move.
Your parents are absolutely correct in assuming that if you gain back the weight, there can be problems in the marriage. And the way things seem right now, even divorce is possible. There is not a girl in the world, no matter how thin, who can guarantee that she will not gain weight as she goes through life. Pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, or a wide range of other health issues can wreak havoc on the metabolism. Everyone knows of women who used to be thin but, for whatever reason, no longer are.
And that is why I always discourage boys from marrying a girl specifically for her looks. Whenever a guy tells me that he is thinking of proposing, my first question to him is, What is it about this girl that makes you feel she is your soul mate? Some guys will sing the praises of the girl with regard to her personality, middos, etc. These guys immediately get a thumbs-up from me.
However, as soon as a guy tells me he wants to marry a particular girl because of her looks, without mentioning anything else about her that moves him, I gently encourage him to date her longer to make sure this is the type of girl who will make him happy and whom he would be proud to have as the mother of his children. Furthermore, I always stress that outer appearances can change for better or worse, but kindness of the heart remains the same throughout its beating lifespan.
The guy you are dating seems to like you for the person you are, but clearly he has an issue with your weight. I urge you to stop your current weight-loss program and please make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to discuss good alternatives for you.
With regard to your current relationship, it appears that you have an open line of communication with the guy you are dating. My advice is to have a long talk with him. Tell him that you appreciate his concern about your weight, but that your concern is the same as that of your parents. Turn his question to you around. Ask him, “What would it mean to you to be married to someone who gains weight during marriage?” Explain that even though you might lose weight, there is a possibility that you will gain it back. You can also add that he too stands the chance to gain weight at some point in his life.
Whatever path this relationship takes, you must never lose sight of something very important: You deserve to be loved for the person you are. Remain true to yourself and keep yourself healthy.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
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