Tuesday, March 13, 2007

HTT, I'm fit to be tied!

Dear HTT,

I'm sick of people equating thin with fit! Just because you're a size 4 does not mean you are a triathlete! It means your measurements are such that a size 4 fits you.

I am far from a size 4, but that doesn't mean that I'm not fit. I would pit myself against many punier gals in an arm wrestling challenge, a long uphill hike, or a 20-lap free-style swim race.

But, when a man says he is looking for a "fit" "fun" date on one of those online dating sites -- he doesn't mean my brand of "fit". He means size 4 -- and he's imagining some less ummmm rotund "fun".

How in the world do us fuller-figured gals compete in this thin-centric world?

Not Size 4 in NC

Dear Not a Size 4 (NS4),

Let me be blunt, NS4. If your potential date were really concerned about your “fitness,” he’d bring a blood pressure cuff to y’all’s first meeting at Starbucks.

Actually, according to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, you need the following tools to assess your fitness levels:

• A stopwatch
• A cloth measuring tape
• A yardstick
• Heavy-duty tape
• Someone to assist you with a flexibility test

Granted, it would be extremely creepy if a guy pulled out this bag of tricks mid-latte. And any first-date offers to test my flexibility are likely to be met with a frown and a raised eyebrow. Unless he’s cute and funny, wears cool glasses, and has an above-average vocabulary (a foreign accent couldn’t hurt).

So that’s just silly. But the point is that size (or BMI) is just one of the four fitness tests, the others being aerobic fitness, muscular strength, and flexibility. And I personally have never had a potential date ask me about my pulse or the number of push-ups I’m able to do. What this all comes down to is that yes, I believe you are correct in assuming that when a man says he’s looking for a “fit” woman, he probably means “thin.” Or trim, or petite, or shapely, or height/weight proportionate…you get the picture.

So why do people use the word “fit,” when plenty of other adjectives are more accurate? I think they fear that they sound shallow for being driven by aesthetics. And I used to think they were shallow. But here’s the thing (oh, I love when I can throw that around!), we like what we like. I like what I like. I’m not sure that we can drastically change what we’re attracted to. To an extent, our attractions are shaped by society, and the media, and our upbringing, and our culture, but even if attraction isn’t written into our DNA, it’s pretty hard to buck all that other stuff that shapes our desires.

As a big gal myself, I’ve often wished I were born into a time when the beauty standard leaned a little bit more in my direction. Maybe the pendulum will swing closer to us one of these days. But, in the meantime, how do you compete with your size 4 sisters? Honestly? You don’t. Why beat your head against the wall? If you’re going to try on-line dating, search for the guys who aren’t looking for someone “fit,” no matter how many people you can take in an arm wrestling contest. Look for the men who like a beautiful, active, full-bodied woman! They might make up a smaller slice of the pie, but it's a slice all the same.

Good luck, NS4.


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