Why It’s Risky to Admit You Used to Be Fat

two people, the one on the left has short hair and is wearing angel's wings and is smiling with their eyes closed. The one on the right is wearing devil horns and appears to be tickling the other person's chest and has an open-mouthed expression.
Image by rom@nski photo / CC BY

The Halo and the Horns

In 2009, I lost 160 lbs. It took me two years and a very consistent effort (a mix of low carb, calorie counting, and exercise). But I’ve kept most of it off. This far out? That’s a minor miracle.

I learned a lot about myself as I lost weight. In particular, the way that people’s attitudes towards me changed was very telling. When I was my largest, I was practically invisible. But as parts of me melted away, people began to treat me as though I were noteworthy. Even when I hadn’t yet done anything to earn that regard.

The halo effect is alive and well. Halo effect is a psychological bias via which a person who has positive qualities in one area is perceived as “good” and assumed to have positive qualities in other, unrelated areas. So when you’re perceived as physically attractive, people tend to assume you have a lot of other positive qualities as well. Even if they’re not consciously aware of this.

And yes, the opposite is true. Sometimes known as the horns effect, if you’re perceived as unattractive, people will assume you have other negative attributes as well.

“You’ll Let Yourself Go”

Common wisdom is to not tell anyone you were ever fat. Especially on dating sites.

The idea is that potential dates will worry that you’ll revert back to what you once were when you get comfortable. Settle down. Let yourself go. That they’ll sign up for the thin version of you but get stuck with the fat version.

But there’s much to be said for a person who is beautiful who was not always considered by others to be beautiful. Who didn’t have the advantages of wowing others with their exterior.

Who had to work to build up their inner selves and came into their outer beauty later.

The beautiful person who was not always that way is a rare and breathtaking combination. Something that should be celebrated.

But no. We’re ashamed of who we were. We know telling others what we overcame won’t go well. We want acceptance, so we edit out our best qualities, the fact that we strove and overcame, in order to get there.

*

My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

Liked it? Take a second to support Poly.Land on Patreon!

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

You may also like