So… I'm fat! Still wanna meet up?
December 6, 2008 6:38 AM   Subscribe

I need to gracefully let someone I've spoken with on the phone, and who I'm developing feelings for, know that I'm kind of fat before we meet in person. How can I do this? Please AskMe help me work out what to say and how to say it.

I'm a girl, he's a guy. A mutual friend introduced us and we've been chatting on the phone. I definitely did not expect to develop feelings for him other than friendship. As far as I know, neither did he. So when we started talking appearance wasn't really an issue. But we unexpectedly hit it off and gradually, over a couple of weeks, feelings have developed.

It's only gradually dawned on me that he likes me as more than a friend. Long conversations and texts have escalated into jokes about what are you wearing and, uh, jokes about phone sex and how much he likes my voice and wants to meet me. In fact, he's said about four times now that he really wants to meet me. Now it's hit me, hard, that I do like him a lot 'like that' and would like to meet him too.

Despite the strong indications that he also likes me a lot, it's still at that awkward stage where everything has been implied and nothing has been said outright. Complicating things even further, we can't meet face to face for at least another three months. We live about 1800 miles apart and for a variety of reasons neither of us can travel for a while.

I know being overweight can be a deal breaker and I need to let him know that I'm, well, fat, before spending weeks talking with him on the phone, both of us getting attached and then him being (possibly) horrified when he meets me.

He's seen pics of me (Facebook) so he knows what my face looks like. You can tell I'm not, you know, Jessica Alba. You can't tell that I'm quite fat. I'm 5'3 and 163 pounds. None of it is muscle. Quite a bit of it is boobs. And bum. And belly and thighs. I don't need to be levered out of the house by crane and I shop in the normal sizes part of the store, but I am definitely hefty.

I just… can't think of a way to bring this up that's not hideous awkward. Everything I think of to say is just so cringe-y. And makes me sound like I'm really insecure about how I look. (Which, I kind of am, truthfully.) And now that I've realised I LIKE him, I feel very awkward too, which isn't helping.

So, the way I see it, possible solutions are:

Somehow I convey to him that I am Not Thin. At all. I just can't imagine how I'd begin to phrase this gracefully, or how to create an opening where it'll seem natural. Him:'How bout that weather, huh?' Me:'So! You seem great. And I'd really like to meet you too! It's so lovely that you think I have a sexy voice. But, just so's you know, In person, I'm kind of ordinary and short and round – quite round – and uh… yeah.' Him:'Uh…'. Even if I do manage to phrase it better than that, if he has some hidden horror of big girls, well. Awkward. Silence.

Less than ideal
Ask the mutual friend who introduced us to let him know, gently, that I am kind of fat. I'm thinking something like: Friend:'So you and Miss Anonymous have really hit it off, huh?' Him:'Uh huh'. Friend:'She's lovely. She's really curvy.'Him:'How curvy?' Friend:'Curvy. And short. She's not obese. But pretty… curvy.' But they're my curves, surely I should be able to tell someone about them myself? And I cringe at the idea of phoning up my friend and basically asking 'Uh, can you u tell Anonymous Boy I'm fat plz?' Ugh.

Really not a good idea
Say nothing. Risk possible horror/disappointment when we meet in person.

'If only' solution
Undertake a radical change in eating and exercise, meet in three months, a radiant new me. He is smitten. Downside: I suppose it is possible that I could get down to 140lb in 12 weeks. But it's not likely.

AskMe, what should I say to him? If anyone's wondering, I'm asking anonymously because, although I've been quite flippant here, it hurts terribly for people not to want to be your friend or kiss you because you're fat and the rejection and shame is too hurty for me to put my username to the question. The obligatory throwaway email address is
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Is there any way you could work in sending him a picture via e-mail? It would get the job done without you having to actually say anything directly about it.
posted by smalls at 6:47 AM on December 6, 2008

You're not hideous, you know. If you're still shopping in the normal sizes, he probably won't even notice. I *don't* shop in normal sizes, so I know how you feel. You can always drop some hints, talking about the media or something, and how not every girl is a size 2, and see where he's at with those kinds of issues.

But for yourself: go get yourself some fantastic outfits. You can look smokin' hot at any size. Feel good about yourself. You have every right to.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:50 AM on December 6, 2008 [4 favorites]

Why don't you, without making a point or fuss about it, add some pictures on Facebook which have full-length (and, full-figure) representations of you? Of course they should be of you having fun with friends, etc. In all likelihood, if he's interested he'll look at them as soon as he sees on his feed that you have new pictures of up. He'll certainly see them before it's time to pull the trigger and meet, if you have three months.
posted by MattD at 6:51 AM on December 6, 2008 [21 favorites]

Post of full body pic on Facebook and set it to your default pic? That's what I did.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 6:51 AM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

Why do you feel like you need to tell him about this before you meet? I read the question carefully to see if there had been a point in the past where you'd told him you were much thinner. In that case you'd have to come clean. Otherwise it's not necessary for you to admit something like this about yourself and it'll also put him on the spot about how to react. And if he meets you and is all awkward about it he's a jerk.
posted by sweetkid at 6:52 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I automatically went to the height / weight chart.

5'3 and 160 pounds really doesn't seem all that fat.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:52 AM on December 6, 2008 [34 favorites]

Are you actually committed to losing weight by eating right and exercising? Or do you just want him to comfortable with who you are now?

If the former, I think the 'if only' solution is a great way to go, because you'll eat right and exercise, and that's the most important. But you don't have to wait three months to see him. Just explain to to him that you haven't been focusing on eating right and exercising lately, and have, therefore, put on a few pounds.

Start the conversation by asking him first: "Do you work out/exercise/like to run/whatever?" No matter what his answer, you can follow up with what I said above. Have this conversation while you yourself is on the way to the gym. "I'm on my way to the gym -- do you work out? -- I've put on more weight than I'd like lately.... etc."

Personally, someone's weight doesn't really bother me, but if that person was sitting around eating junk food and not exercising or caring anything about their health and body, THAT would bother me.
posted by nitsuj at 6:53 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yes, what Justin said. Just take care of yourself. If you eat right and exercise for a few months you will be a radiant new you, whether or not you lose a bunch of weight.
posted by sweetkid at 6:57 AM on December 6, 2008

I have had to do this. In fact, I was about your height and weight when I did it- perhaps a bit more, about 5'3" and 170 lbs. The thing is, you're not incredibly overweight. I know that people never could guess my weight correctly, mostly because I dressed in a flattering way and stood tall.

My bet is that he won't notice unless he has a strong preference for very thin girls, and if that was the case, he probably would have already noticed in some of your photos and discontinued talking to you.

Yes, I knew all this too at the time, but I still wanted him to be aware. I didn't do it subtlely- I basically came right out and said "I'm not skinny. If you have a preference for skinny girls, I am not it." And then I proceeded to send him some full-length photos and held my breath.

And he said, "Oh. Well, you look great."

Don't sweat over it. Chances are, if he's been spending a lot of time talking to you, he won't care that you're a curvy girl. In the meantime, get yourself a great little black dress that shows off your strong features and knock his socks off when you finally meet.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:01 AM on December 6, 2008

According to BMI, you are less "fat" than me. And although I am not currently satisfied with my extra poundage, I do not consider myself an eyesore, and neither does my man friend!

Through your phone conversations, maybe get on the topic of diet and exercise, perhaps mention that you'd like to lose a few pounds through improving your diet and starting to exercise a bit. Maybe mention that you'd like some motivation, and what does he like to do to keep himself active? What kinds of stuff does he usually like to cook? You're looking for ideas for healthy recipes? Man, isn't it tough to keep the pounds off during the holidays? Ya know, that kind of stuff that is not really talking about your weight.

If his answer to these questions is "I play WoW all day and eat only cheeseburgers" then clearly he is not a man who should be caring about how much his lady exercises and if she's getting all of her veggies. If his answer is "Well, I workout three times a day in preparation for my next Ironman! Also I am on this super macrobiotic diet in which I eat 3 lbs of celery per day!" Uh, well maybe you are a bit mis-matched. But my guess is that you and he (like most people, including me!) are somewhere in the middle. You try to be healthier, but sometimes that cheeseburger/ice cream/marathon Pride & Prejudice watching session just gets in the way of diet and exercise. (uh, hypothetically?)

And maybe, like you, he wants to be healthier and you can be in this together, and it can be something you both work towards. I'm not saying you have to get down to 140 in 12 weeks to be a "radiant new you" but trying to eat healthier and being more active could make you more radiant than you think! At least it would help you be more self confident, and that is definitely a great start.
posted by sararah at 7:01 AM on December 6, 2008

Oh, honey! I've been 160 and I did NOT look fat. I strongly doubt you do either.

What I did look was out of shape, though, and if that's something you feel you may want to take a look at, then that is possible -- but do it for its own sake, not just because of this guy. I'll tell you another thing -- when I started going to the gym and eating healthier, my WEIGHT didn't actually change at all for the longest time. But the way I WORE it changed. So the number on the scale may not mean as much as you think it does. And -- that took only a month. But that was largely because I'd been eating way too much butter and cheese and Fritos, and I started to switch to stuff that was just better for me anyway.

I really doubt that you are "fat." It's always a good idea to take care of yourself for any reason, though, so if you've decided maybe you need to start doing that, that's fine, but don't necessarily trust the scale. Trust the mirror first, and I bet you'll notice that "hey, I'm seeing a difference even though the scale says otherwise."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on December 6, 2008 [6 favorites]

I realize this isn't a situation where cold logic is going to solve much, but do consider:

a) he could have many perfectly noble reasons for deciding after meeting you face-to-face that you two don't click - reasons having nothing to do with your being (slightly) fat;
b) if he does reject you because of your weight, he's not going to tell you this;
c) either way, because your weight is something you're sensitive about, you're probably going to conclude that he rejected you because of your weight.

Therefore, by taking any actions in advance of your meeting to emphasize your weight, you're almost certainly increasing the chances of you two never meeting up - a meeting-up that could lead to much happiness - while not in any way reducing the chances of you ending this whole episode feeling bad and upset.

And at the risk of a derail, please never forget that the cultural pressure on women to be rake-thin comes in large part from the fashion industry and media, which is run by women and gay men, not straight men. I'm not saying "the patriarchy" isn't to blame in some broader, sociological sense - but those super-thin models were not selected for the magazine covers by straight men, and do not represent straight men's tastes in women.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:10 AM on December 6, 2008 [11 favorites]

1. You're not fat. Sure, you're carrying a few extra pounds, but if a guy is already so smitten by you, he probably won't notice. You're not 200 pounds.

2. Like others said, mention to him that you've put on a few pounds lately and this is the biggest you've ever been, and you decided to do something about it. Slight lie, but it'll put the idea in his head.

3. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! You don't necessarily need to go and drop 20 pounds, obviously that's hard to just do, but start working out. Or increase your work outs a little if you already do work out... although if none of your 163 pounds is muscle I'd guess that you maybe don't. You'll start feeling better about yourself. Even if you don't lose weight so quickly you'll have more confidence, and you will be more toned and clothes will look better on you. And off you. Ha.

4. You could post a picture on facebook. Make sure it's still a flattering one though, don't just find a bad one so he can see the worst case scenario! But if you're committed to diet and exercise, maybe wait a month until you see some results and then post a picture. You'll feel better about it all.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 7:14 AM on December 6, 2008

Just checking: are you assuming that he's in great shape, or do you know? Judging from the straight couples I see -- i'm gay but I work and live in a straight neighbourhood ;-) -- heavier women actually do get dates and attract partners.

I appreciate that you don't want to get hurt, but I can assure you that he's not thinking the same way about himself. By all means, post a full length picture of yourself on facebook, but don't worry about posting a flattering one. Nobody else worries about doing that.

One of the sexiest things for gay and straight people is being comfortable in one's own skin. Too bad it's so much easier to said than done.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:19 AM on December 6, 2008

Maybe he's fat.
Or married.
Or has two heads.
And maybe the meeting will be a really anti-climax.
Maybe you want to use that 12 weeks to become 100lbs (or whatever).
Maybe he likes curves.

I think you should ask him. About what you are each expecting when you meet.
Point out to him that you both don't know what each other look like.
And then talk about it.

But you're right, I think it's good to get this out of the way before the meeting.

How about "Hey do you ever use the metafilter website ...?
posted by Xhris at 7:28 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing that you're not that big. Really, from the tone of your question, I thought you'd be about fifty pounds heavier.

And honestly, if you want to lose some weight, three months is a long time to do it. I dropped about twenty pounds my first three months on the Weight Watchers points diet, and I wasn't exercising at all. Your mileage may vary, obviously, but if you want to slim down a little before meeting him, start today and you can definitely do it.
posted by EarBucket at 7:31 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

You're forgetting that you could meet him and not be attracted to him for a variety of reasons. He is probably nervous about something, too!
posted by Airhen at 7:55 AM on December 6, 2008

Have you thought about the fact that he may already know? I mean, if your mutual friend knows you in real life, there's a pretty good chance they've described your characteristics. People usually give a quick snapshot of a person when they say, "Hey you'll really like her." Stuff like personality, hair color, body type, tattoos, etc.

But what I really want to say is this:

Any guy who likes you over the phone then changes his mind because you're overweight in person is a douchebag.

So meet him, be confident and if he doesn't like what he sees, too bad for him.
posted by missjenny at 7:57 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

I wonder what he's trying to change before meeting you? Rogaine, much? Push ups for those measly pecs? Proactiv on his back? (note these are all things that, while not flattering, would not detract from your attraction to him, I imagine. If the physical attraction does exist)

We're all human and none of us are perfect, just keep being yourself and meet him as you are--exchanging a few full-length (flattering) pics never hurt anyone, but it's not necessary.
posted by agentwills at 8:12 AM on December 6, 2008

Quite a bit of it is boobs.

Have you gotten professionally fitted for a bra? Wearing the right bra size, especially for curvy women, can improve your looks so much. Check out Bravissimo's before and after pictures.

One of the reasons I suggest this is because it's a simple change that can alter the way you look and make you feel more comfortable and confident. The second you are convinced that you look good, you will relax and smile more and flirt more, and therefore be even hotter. So treat yourself right! So much of this is about your relationship with your sexuality, not his.

You might also want to check out Joy Nash's Fat Rant, which covers a lot of the confidence issues you're mentioning. Have the courage to feel beautiful WITH the weight!
posted by heatherann at 8:48 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Don't drop the weight for him, but meeting him in 12 weeks could be a good opportunity for you to set a goal for youself. If you want to loose the weight, twenty pounds in twelve weeks is very possible without making radical changes to your life. My BMI is much higher than yours, and I've been loosing ten pounds a month for the last three months, without any crazy exercise regime or starvation diet. Every day, I eat a piece of fruit or a serving of vegetables for breakfast, a salad with nonfat dressing for lunch, and a sandwich or small (4") pizza for dinner. I know how many calories I eat (1100-1400 per day), and never cheat. It's a bit boring, but anyone should be able to do that for twelve weeks.
posted by paulg at 8:51 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hi, I'm about your size. When I feel really bad about myself, feel really fat and ugly and unworthy, then I look less attractive: I wear my "fat" clothes, I don't speak up in social situations, I don't carry myself in an elegant or attractive way. In more confident moods, while physically I am exactly the same, I get compliments aplenty (and I'm modest to boot!). If you feel like you have to warn him that you're "fat" and fear he might be "horrified" then it sounds to me like you are feeling bad about yourself in a way that isn't just about weight. Maybe I'm projecting here, and I was hesitant to say anything because you sound pretty confident, but your comments about last-minute weight-loss as a possible "solution" strike me as extremely problematic. There's nothing wrong with losing weight, but doing so in order to hide your appearance from him--doing so in a last-ditch effort to keep a man's attention? I've done that (or at least, felt that way, and tried it) and it just makes you feel worse about yourself and even less worthy of the person's attention.

Under no circumstances should you feel the need to say, as some have suggested, something like "I'm the biggest I've ever been--but I'm working on it!" or "Do you work out? Because I do, but I'm sort of heavy now--but I'm working on it!" That markets you all wrong. I mean, sure, get in shape if you want, do it in order to feel more attractive if you want, but don't apologize to this guy for something that doesn't require an apology. And moreover, if you don't bring it up as a Big Thing, I suspect he either won't notice or won't care. If you were set up by a mutual friend, the friend probably would have known if this guy only dates super-fit or super-skinny girls and wouldn't have set you up, right?

Sorry for the novel. And I don't mean to be flip and say "confidence is sexier than being thin!" but your attitude of feeling obligated to be other than you are in order to make yourself worthy of this guy's attention struck me as the first priority you ought to address, rather than losing weight.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2008 [17 favorites]

Hey, you aren't fat. And if you are? So? You can still be gorgeous, you know. Seriously, you can be! Met Mr G when I was at the heaviest I've ever been in my entire life. He likes girls with curves, true. And yes, my curves were more ample than the ones he'd normally prefer. But he also told me that by the time he'd actually met me in the flesh, that as long as I didn't have a tusk growing out of my forehead that he could hang with just about anything. Me carrying around more weight than he'd prefer wasn't a dealbreaker in our case. Weight comes and goes. Who you are and how much he likes being with you? The way you smile or laugh? All that sort of thing is what he likes about you.

I have a couple of guy friends for whom a woman carrying around even 10 lbs too much is a dealbreaker. I don't think this is the case with your Mr. Interesting. If it was, he'd have asked to meet you or to see a full body pic long before now.

I think it's so sweet to see people fall in love. :D You must really like this guy to want so hard to be "perfect" for him. You might already be just that. You won't know until you meet. Don't make a big deal about your weight. Just go meet him. See what you think. At the very worst, you'll have a friend, right? And the best... well... you never know.
posted by Grrlscout at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

You're not overweight enough for it to be an issue by itself. Really, you're just not. Now, it may be that you are too overweight for this guy. I'd be surprised, but there are some people who just have an incredibly narrow range of people they are attracted to, and it's possible this guy could be one of those people. But if he is, it's more about his own narrowness than your weight. Your blonde hair, freckles or green eyes could just as easily be a deal-breaker.

Now, it is possible that either one of you will not be attracted to the other. These things happen. But please do yourself a favor and don't blame your weight for this.

Also, don't bring it up like it's something he needs to know, along the lines of a criminal record or other deal-breaker. What's likely to happen, especially given the way you think about your weight, is that he will think you are a lot fatter than you really are. Post the full-length Facebook photos - maybe even email him a link - and leave it at that.
posted by lunasol at 9:06 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

My experience with long distance communications of a romantic nature, even with extensive pictures involved, is that it's really hard to see how things will feel in person. So please mellow out and be excited about things, and if you want to send more pictures, that might be a good idea, but most things like this don't work out, so you may be getting really wound up about something that won't make you feel anything when it actually happens.

But maybe it will, and maybe it will be great. Do the best you can to take it as it goes. Really hard advice.

One thing I notice about women who I think might be self conscious about their bodies on dating sites is that they tend to have pictures of themselves from really far away, underexposed, at parties. These pictures are never flattering. So you might want to have a friend help you select (or take) a flattering picture of yourself. Not a dishonest picture, just one that looks like you.
posted by sully75 at 9:11 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll bet this guy has already considered the idea that you might be overweight, especially if he's seen pictures of your face. Appearances are pretty important to men when considering a partner. (Not that your attractiveness is directly related to your Jessica Alba-ness, but more like, if I like a girl, I'm going to like looking at her and I'm going to spend a lot of time looking at her. I don't know if I am explaining this well.) If he has already intimated that he *likes* likes you, either consciously or subconsciously he's probably decided he's ok with what you may look like, or at least enough so that he wants to take this to the next level. Unless of course he's an asshole.

I think the advice about putting up some full body shots on Facebook is a pretty non threatening way to solve this problem for you.

And, from personal experience, I would totally echo what was said about confident vs. thin. A confident overweight woman is *much* sexier than an insecure thin woman!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:41 AM on December 6, 2008

First off, 5'3 and 160 pounds probably isn't fat. Then again I've never cared much, myself, since I've known very small and very large women who were each attractive in different ways. There are a lot of ways to be pretty/ugly, and fat/thin isn't really top of the list.

Second, you can get a lot of mileage out of a sweet/kind/funny "You realize I'm totally fat, right?" during a light conversation. I mean, all women SAY this, sure, but at least then it's out there, and you'll be able to judge how much he really cares (or doesn't) from ensuing conversations. If he brings it up a few more times on other days to "talk about some more", you're in trouble.

Third, don't ever tell anyone a number. And as for anyone who asks... DTMFA.
posted by rokusan at 9:45 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I didn't read any of the other comments but I think if it's meant to work out it will.

I think if anything you should be more worried about what happens if you guys really hit it off and then there is a situation of 1800 miles being in between you =]

I'd stop being so worried. Maybe try to eat really healthy over the next few months. Try to do a bit more physical activity then usual and see what happens.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:49 AM on December 6, 2008

Whether you look fat or not, whether or not you're "overweight enough" for it to "matter", you are who you are and look the way you do and you're worried about meeting this guy and need a way to quell your concerns without selling yourself short or making a mountain out of a molehill (potential pun acknowledged as inevitable).

Putting him off for months is just going to make this seem like an issue. Trying all kinds of fancy preparation plots is more likely to backfire on you or do you no favours.

Figure out when you guys are going to get together, dress appropriately (great idea to get a friend's input on outfit to make sure it flatters, since we all have blindspots in our wardrobes), and show up confident that you are worthy of meeting other human beings as you are.

You can mitigate any concerns about being accused of misleading him regarding your size (which would be silly, but we have to take reality into account) by asking that you guys exchange recent photos so that you know precisely who to look for when you meet up, then make sure your pic is full-length or shows enough to get the idea across.

If he reacts poorly, his loss.
posted by batmonkey at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

follow-up from the OP
Thank you so much everyone for your insight and also for your kindness. I actually got all teary reading all the nice things everyone wrote.

It's so easy to get trapped inside my head and just see things from one rigid perspective that it can be terribly hard to imagine there ARE other ways of looking at it.

I really hadn't seen it before, but after reading all these responses, I think saying something about my weight is going to look like I'm ridiculously insecure and believe I have some terrible defect that needs confessing. It might also make him think I look like Bubbles Devere. I do feel insecure and defective. But I'm pretty sure awkwardly broadcasting my deep-seated, neurotic, body loathing is going to be as much (or more) a turn off as the extra weight. So I'm just going to leave it be.

But will think about digging up a decent, flattering, full body pic, or take one of myself if I have to, and either Facebook it or email it to him. Not in a confessional ''Here I am, FAT!'' way. Just in a casual ''Hey! I was mucking around with the camera and the cat in the garden!'' way.

As far as losing the weight goes, ironically, a medical scare has me living like a pretty good imitation of a healthy person for reasons entirely unrelated to my appearance. This is a first, believe me. I'm walking every day, cutting out chocolate and coffee and swilling green smoothies like my life depends on it. I think I will just try and keep this up with the added incentive of, uh… radiance.

To all the kind people who've suggested that I'm not that fat - I know I'm not humungous. But I have a tiny frame and I'm not wearing it well. Also, I didn't pile it on by eating too much spinach, you know? I've lived a pretty unhealthy life in the last few years. And it shows.
posted by jessamyn at 9:59 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

First, you're actually not fat.

I know you feel fat, but you're just not. I know you think you're an exception, you're unusually un-muscled and fluffy, but you're not. You're just not especially slender...which is normal. Which is the definition of normal.

But, to go beyond definitions of normal -- healthy, attractive, desirable bodies come in all shapes and sizes. This is not a lie. I met my husband when I was about your size, and he was blown away by how attractive I was. The parts of my body I loathed most, and thought were freakish and horrible and wrong, he literally adored. One-hundred pounds later, guess what...he still thinks I am physically attractive. Other people think I am physically attractive. I pass for "somewhat chubby, but basically normal" though according to the BMI I should be dead right now.

The problem you're having here is with your perception of yourself, and with what you assume his perception will be. In truth, you have no idea what his perception will be -- though it sounds as though he is predisposed to like you. Haven't you ever been attracted by someone's personality and had that halo effect spread until you find them physically attractive as well? Well, I have. I bet he's not immune to this either.

Here are the three possibilities for what he will think of you:

1) There is a small chance that this guy will be one of those rare assholes who requires a woman to weigh a certain (small) amount before he will consider dating her. You can't discount that possibility, but I think it is a small one, or else he would have INSISTED on you sending a full body (preferably nekkid) photo before deigning to speak with you further.

2) There is a much greater chance that he will think you're attractive because you really are, and will think your weight is normal because it really is.

3) And, on the other side of things, there is a small chance that he will actually prefer larger women, and will think you're too thin. You may think that's ludicrous, but it happens. Again, the possibility is small, and he likely would have mentioned his preference by now if it were a serious deal-breaker.

Before you invest a lot of time and travel and more emotional energy into this, you need to test your hypothesis (which seems to be "he'll think I'm fat and gross if he knows what I look like.") In order to do this under the most neutral experimental conditions, you must not infect him with your own bias about your body.

What you must do is send him an honest photograph of you that shows what your body looks like (in clothes. Although without them is also an option if that appeals to you.) Make it a recent photograph that accurately reflects how you look now. DO NOT include with the photograph any apologies for what you look like, any mention of your weight, or how fat you think you look, or how unflattering or unrealistic the picture is. Just send the photograph with some casual commentary like, "Here's a photo of me doing _____ last weekend. It was fun!"

Make a contingency plan NOW for how you will take care of yourself if he responds badly -- promise yourself a night out, or a special treat of some kind. What I've done when I'm irrationally worried about flunking some test is promise myself that I will not beat myself up, that I will allow myself to call in sick to work and go do something frivolous and fun (manicures, shopping, etc.) You must solemnly swear not to beat yourself up if the response is not what you want.

The odds are well in your favour you will receive back a positive or even complimentary response. If you don't, the problem does not rest with your body, but with his perception, and with society's perception that only a ridiculously narrow range of physical characteristics may be considered 'attractive.' And if he can't find you attractive, then he really doesn't deserve you. Someone who genuinely thinks you're hot shit is the only person who does.

You've reached the point in your relationship where you need to know this, now. It is time to test your hypothesis with as much removed, pseudo-scientific objectivity as you can muster.
posted by peggynature at 10:13 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Suggest an exchange of photos, "just so that you can recognize each other when you meet." I see no downsides to this. Hell, for all you know, he could be overweight, too!
posted by Afroblanco at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2008

I'm 5'3 and 163 pounds. Quite a bit of it is boobs. And bum. And belly and thighs.

Send him a copy of Baby's Got Back and see how he reacts?

That's not really a joking suggestion, either; a woman who made some laughing mention of carrying a few extra pounts - which, from your description of your wieght and shape, is all that you're doing - it wouldn't bother me or, I suspect, most men.

On the other hand, if someone, metaphorically speaking, sat me down for a big serious conversation about being overweight, I'd build up an impression of vast size in my mind: when I read your intro on the ask page, I'd been assuming you were really overweight, as in "medically obese." On reading your description of yourself, I had the same reaction most of the other people here do: "that doesn't sound overweight to me."

Which brings me to my second suggestion: if you do want to describe yourself, be aware that most of the euphemisms we used to use for someone your weight now carry much heftier connotations, so while terms like "chubby" or "curvy" are probably quite accurate in a dictionary sense, their appropriation by people much, much bigger than your may give the wrong impression. I'd echo the people above who say "swap photos."

Moreover, both anecdotal evidence and the odd study tend to suggest women worry way more about their weight than there shape - in the few (not terribly scientific) studies around this, guys generally have a perception of "physically attractive" that skews heavier than women.

Finally, remember that, while men don't have the same degree of social pressure around our appearance as women (although underwear ads and Men's health are working on it!), I'm sure there's stuff your possible paramour has about himself that he's not that happy with. Hairy back, spare tire, birthmark, penis, whatever. You won't be the only one going into this with some physical anxiety, I'm sure. Be as kind about his flaws as you want him to be about yours.
posted by rodgerd at 1:47 PM on December 6, 2008

I have a friend who fell in love online and she was really quite overweight and she was terrified of meeting him because he was thin and athletic. She told him and they met and had a very hot affair which ended for reasons that had nothing at all to do with weight.
posted by Maias at 6:18 PM on December 6, 2008

send a naked/scantily clad picture, I am not being snarky
posted by Acer_saccharum at 6:30 PM on December 6, 2008

I don't know if you're fat or not. It doesn't matter; you feel self-conscious and you're afraid of rejection. This is normal EVEN AMONGST "PRETTY" PEOPLE.

But will think about digging up a decent, flattering, full body pic, or take one of myself if I have to, and either Facebook it or email it to him. Not in a confessional ''Here I am, FAT!'' way. Just in a casual ''Hey! I was mucking around with the camera and the cat in the garden!'' way.

Absolutely do this. If he is not attracted to you, it's much better to get this out of the way before you get way too attached. Have a friend take a bunch of pictures, and pick out one or two that are most flattering. I'd email it and say "Here's me and my cat!" or "I went to the concert in the park last weekend!"

Anecdotally, I have scoliosis (severe curvature of the spine), which initially puts some people off. Unlike weight, this will never change. While dating online, I figured out that I had to send men a photo post haste or I'd get hurt quite a bit. And I did, but I don't hold it against the guys; you can't really control to whom you're attracted. They might not have liked me anyway, even if my spine was normal, because I have short hair or small breasts. So even if he says "no thanks," do NOT take it as a reflection of your self-worth. He's not necessarily an asshole, but neither are you unattractive.
posted by desjardins at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2008

update from the OP
So, before I posted, I was totally ready to get on the phone to Mr Anonymous and make an idiot of myself by apologizing for being fat. And I was convinced that he wouldn't want me. How COULD he? I'm FAT. And ugly. Who in their right mind would think I'm desirable or lovable?

Instead, I decided to follow everyone's advice, take a risk and send a flattering/realistic full body pic. And to shut the fuck up about being fat and let him decide for himself if he liked me.

I actually cried after I hit send, I was so convinced I'd never hear from him again.

But!!!! He was still talking to me after I sent the pics. And teasing me about sending less PG photos. So after a bit of back and forth and teasing and flirting... I took some very mildly saucy pics with some cleavage and sent them. I was a bit less scared, but still pretty nervous. I've never done anything like that before.

Anyway, he LOVED them! And then we met. (Turns out we didn't have to wait til March, in the end.) And spent four days in bed with him telling me how hot I am and how much he loved my boobies. I think he's pretty sexaaaay too.

I've never felt beautiful or sexy or wanted or desired before, but I do now. It's pretty incredible. I'm tearing up writing this.

Seriously, everyone who answered this question really helped me find the courage to act as though I'm worth loving and kissing and making sexy-time fun with, despite a life-long burden of shame and loathing about my body. And because of it, I met the best, most awesome wonderful amazing guy, in the history of the world, ever.

I'm pretty sure, without the outpouring of kindness and support from AskMe I would have done my best to sabotage things cos I was so convinced of my own ugliness and unworthiness.

But I didn't! And we're going to meet up again soon for more, uh, good times. Heh.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you AskMe.
posted by jessamyn at 5:43 PM on January 5, 2009 [67 favorites]

I love happy endings. Good for you and good for him.
posted by desjardins at 1:57 PM on January 6, 2009

Yay! Great story, great update -- brilliant to hear. You go, anon!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:17 AM on February 23, 2009

Aww. That's awesome. Thanks for following up on that!
posted by Phire at 6:27 AM on February 23, 2009

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