Lose 15 Pounds or Get Out!
The Atomic Dog is a weekly feature that isn't necessarily about weight training or bodybuilding. Sometimes it's about sports in general, sex, women, or male issues of some kind. At times it's inspirational, but it can also be informative, funny, and even a little weird, but hopefully, always interesting and a little controversial. We hope it reflects the nature of Testosterone magazine in that, just as no man is completely one-dimensional and only interested in one subject, neither are we. If it makes you think or laugh — or even get angry — it's served its purpose.
In the beginning, there was Abby.
Abby begat Ann, and Ann begat Judith, and Judith begat Amy, and Amy begat a whole slew of other advice columnists.
One of the latest to be begotten is Carolyn Hax, who shovels out advice on relationships three days a week in the Washington Post.
To her credit, Carolyn doesn't pretend to have any special training in psychology. Instead, she says she has a liberal arts degree and "a lot of opinions and that's about it."
Since I don't have any special training or a degree in psychology either, I'm eminently qualified to squelch her advice, which is best described as Pollyanna pie-in-the-sky idealism over-seeped in a high-octane estrogen, with just an occasional smidgeon of in-your-face Testosterone thrown in for spice.
This recent column in particular caught my eye and fueled my ire:
I am 25 and have been with Dave, 30, for almost three years. We live together and plan to get married and have kids. One thing that repeatedly comes up, though, is my body, and my failure to go to the gym or eat right. This has been our only real disagreement. He thinks I would be perfect if I dropped 15 pounds. I am stubborn and prideful and any requests for me to change have been met with anger and tears.
After I recently complained about the burden of school loans, Dave said he would give me money toward my bills if I could lose 15 pounds in two months. I have told my friends about it, and some say I should kick him to the curb and the others think it's a good idea. The latter are all gym-going people. They tell me if I let myself go it will be harder to get in shape later.
I have always been uncomfortable about my body. I think I can lose a few pounds but I don't think I am grotesque enough or that my health is in jeopardy. I need an unbiased opinion.
Carolyn's answer lets us know she doesn't think much of Dave:
"Whatever gave this guy the idea that he was entitled to 'perfect'? That he had any right to 'improve' you to suit his own needs — especially since he apparently met you as is?"
She continued to berate Dave:
"You're also ready to believe, enabled by friends, that his offer is about your health. It's not. It's about a guy making his love for you conditional.
"He'll only get harder to satisfy, as your body ages and stretches for kids. Are you ready to spend the rest of your life fighting for the love of the person whose love you want most?"
Her final advice to "G" is to "Run, run, run. And not in the exercise sense."
Carolyn, Carolyn, Carolyn, you're absolutely right. Twenty-first century man has totally subjugated 4 billion years of evolution and now, whenever he looks at a woman, sees only her inner beauty.
Dave is obviously some throwback to a more primitive, superficial time.
In fact, Carolyn, while I've never seen a picture of you, I already know that I love you. Our minds are simpatico. Let us grow old together, ignoring your physical trappings, regardless of how repugnant they may be. Rather than resort to odious physical procreation, let us place our foreheads together — let us mind fuck — and from our pure loving thoughts there shall arise a supernatural child born of such love and noble intent that nature itself will burp forth from the ground millions of celebratory puppy dogs that will lick the faces of every man, woman, and child on earth in a slobber fest of love, an act which will vanquish war and hate and poverty and pestilence and nourish and preserve each of us until we die blissfully in each other's arms and Lawdy, Lawdy, rise clear up to hebben where de angels am!
For chrissake, Carolyn, get real.
Here's how I might have answered G's letter:
So you met someone. In this bizarre, cold, lonely world, you somehow bucked the odds and found someone to love you.
He overlooked your physical flaws and fell in love with you.
That's pretty amazing. You know how many people get engaged on looks alone, only to eventually find out they've married the intellectual equivalent of a tree stump — one with lovely tits, but a tree stump nonetheless?
But still you're unhappy because he doesn't think you're perfect.
Personally, I think he's doing it the right way; he's found someone who he liked for non-physical reasons; somehow noticed the chubby girl standing in the corner with a Mai Tai and for some reason actually approached her while every fiber of his loins told him to instead saunter up to the moist mammal in the tube top whose ass is such an example of geometric perfection that Archimedes himself would have shouted Eureka at its sight; somehow seen the diamond in the rough that is you and is willing to help you hack at the overgrowth to get to the jewel.
He's not insisting you develop a passion for midget wrestling or that you give up meat. He's not asking you to give up your religious beliefs and instead worship the Rutabaga god that commands his faith. And neither is he asking you to submit to his sexual perversion, which involves nipple clamps, a bucket of canned meat, and a 15-horsepower leaf blower.
All he's asking is that you lose 15 pounds. He's not demanding it, nor is he making your nuptials conditional on it. In fact, it sounds like he's given you a very nice incentive.
You say you're stubborn and prideful, but I think you're guiltier of another one of the seven sins: sloth. Your entire letter reeks of it. I've no doubt you're one of those women who, once they get married, let themselves turn into a toad. Of course, chances are if Dave says you'd be perfect if you lost 15 pounds, he's being charitable. You probably need to lose 30.
It looks like you spent a lot of energy in finding someone to agree with you; to tell you that you're right and that Dave is soooo unfair. You probably had yourself a lot of comfort food, too, to nurture your damaged pride.
Listen tubby, in the time it took you to seek out the advice of numerable friends and write your letter to Carolyn, you could have been well on your way to losing the 15 pounds.
Let me tell you a deep dark secret that most men know but never admit. Despite the love they might have for their tubby women, the one thought that keeps going through their heads upon rising and seeing that hulking, amorphous shape beneath the covers is, "Why-oh-why aren't you hot?"
Every time a group of friends talks about someone's sexy wife, there's that little knife prick to his heart because they sure wouldn't talk about you that way.
Yes, it's superficial. Yes, it shouldn't be that way. But it is that way. I promise you, once we get around to eradicating pride, jealousy, anger, and envy, we'll dump superficiality, too. But you better be prepared for a long wait. Man covets beauty. It thrills him. It makes his life worthwhile.
Telling him to cut off these primeval likes and yearnings is akin to telling him to chop off his fingers, which he would gladly do, along with drinking raw sewage or being chained to a rock and having vultures chew at his liver for a solid month, if it meant you'd devote a little time to cultivating your personal beauty.
You want a happy marriage? You want hubby to stay blissful, lower the odds of him straying, and ensure a satisfying sex life for yourself — the kind of sex life where you're in such a perpetual chemical euphoria that you can't even get out of your bed and that it's all you can do to brush your teeth, turn your head, and spit at the trash basket? Hell, that kind of sex burns fat and keeps the pounds off because there's little interest in eating food.
You want to enjoy an active social life because he's proud to take you out and show you off? Do you want to lose the burden of those college loans?
Lose the 15.
If you had written to Carolyn complaining about how Dave was badgering you to get better with money or pick up after yourself, she would have no doubt sided with Dave, but since you're talking about something that rubs close to the bone of almost every woman — body image — she wants you to kick Dave to the curb.
And don't think for one minute this is a sexist thing. If you had written to Carolyn complaining how Dave wouldn't lose 15 pounds for you, I'd be on your side, just like I'm on Dave's side now. My argument would be a little different, but my advice would be the same.
If you're not willing to make the effort, G, then I have just three words for Dave: Run, run, run. And not in the exercise sense.
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