‘Mixed weight’ is one of the newest labels being attached to couples in love where one half of the duo is larger than the other. Our newest contributor, Madeline Wilson-Ojo, is calling out the unsubtle fat-shaming and ponders the need to categorize a relationship because it’s unfamiliar to us.
Marriage can be an awkward, difficult journey to navigate. You’d be hard pressed to find one that has not had to go through the delicate process of blending and melting together two different sets of experiences, walks of life and beliefs to make it work. So, the scrutiny, opinions and labelling of your relationship by others, if you and your significant other look like an unlikely coupling, can add some extra pressure.
The term ‘mixed weight relationship’ is attributed to couples with notable size differences. I first came across the term in a Metro article bemoaning society’s obsession with affixing labels on anything that deviates from the norm. In it the author, Rebecca Reid, argues that giving pointless titles to such relationships does nothing more than draw attention to how unusual they are when in fact they’ve existed since marriage and relationships began. Most interestingly, couples in which the woman is larger are most likely to attract this annoying label, rather than the other way around.
On the eve of my wedding, a well-intentioned family member warned me to not to ‘add any more weight’, lest I lose my husband to a slimmer woman. I was saturated with anger, not only at her apparently low opinion of my husband, but at her internalized fat phobia. I’m a UK size 20, and weigh 18 stones, which is the heaviest I have been. Next to my 14 stone husband, I am definitely the chubby one, and as a couple we fall into this unfortunate categorization of ‘mixed weight’. This family member’s well-meaning advice left me hurt but not shocked. After all, it is symptomatic of society’s problem with accepting the fact that fat people are deserving of love. Studies have suggested that couples of different sizes are less likely to be viewed favourably than matched weight counterparts. The same study suggested that whilst pairings of the same size were encouraged to go out on more dates and introduce their significant other to friends and family, ‘mixed weight’ couples are more likely to be told to date in secret.
Dating my husband cost me some friendships with ladies who were always happy to be my friend, provided I did not have the audacity to be unequally yoked with a partner who was ‘not of my kind’. I remember witnessing the glazed stare of a girlfriend the first time I introduced my then boyfriend to her. The episode was followed by an onslaught of snide comments about my partner somehow fulfilling a strange fetish until I decided I was not going to take it anymore, and finally ended the friendship.
When speaking about fat people in relationships, the topic of fetishism follows closely behind. Whilst there is no official data to quantify the proportion of men who fetishize fat women’s bodies, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that it’s a thing. An anonymous blogger who goes by the moniker, Your Fat Friend cites her dating woes with partners who felt entitled to her body because of the size of it. ‘I love my women fat. Big girl usually means a big mouth too’, she recounts the lewd message she received from a fellow dater on an online dating app.
But that does not mean every man in a relationship with a curvy girl is fulfilling a weird obsession. Believe it or not, some of us are quite comfortable in our birthday suit. The term ‘mixed weight relationship’ a problematic one. It suggests that behind the smiles of two people in love, lurks something more sinister. Some people have suggested that it’s nothing more than a convenient descriptor, and of course, they are more than welcome to accept this title for their relationship if they wish. For me though, the bottom line is that couples whose relationships are based on mutual love, trust and respect are the best-looking ones.