Obesity, Fat Acceptance, and Romance

sizeThe ungrammatically titled web page “Photos: 7 Women You Won’t Believe They Actually Exist” features a woman who is literally wider than she is tall. With a height of only 5’4”, Mikel Ruffinelli weighs 420 pounds and measures 8′ around the hips. This is the pattern for women in her family. Her shape causes some problems, like having to go through some doors sideways, while others are impossible from any angle. At home, her chairs have been engineered with steel supports and her bed is 7 feet wide. She has to drive a truck because car seats are too small.

Even though she is unable to move around for more than a few minutes at a time, Ruffinelli told the press that she loves her shape, has no health problems, and sees no reason to attempt a reducing diet. This may sound like the world’s biggest case of denial. What can’t be denied is her happy home life with her husband and their three daughters. RippleEffectMag.com reported:

Mikel has been married for ten years to computer technician Reggie, who is wonderfully besotted with his wife. Reggie tells Mikel how beautiful she is every single day, and is really proud of his wife for happily accepting the way that she is… And as Mikel says, “Men don’t fancy skinny girls, they like an hourglass figure.”

Childhood Obesity News has discussed the phenomenon of fatlogic, which allows a person to rationalize away every aspect of dangerous obesity. One such horrifying story came from a Reddit contributor known as “Melaidie” who voiced many concerns about her mother:

She tells my sister she’s fine. She’s perfectly healthy, her blood pressure is FINE. Even though she couldn’t attend my sister’s speech that she promised she would. Even though she’s told me she has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Even though she has fibroids. Even though she gets dizzy because her blood pressure was too high…Her stomach is massive. She blames this on the large fibroids she has growing on her uterus. The fat everywhere else though? What’s that from?

Returning to the subject of romance, there are websites that cater to the dating preferences of men who prefer large women and women who prefer large men. Though cruder colloquial labels exist, they call themselves “fat appreciators.” Some fat appreciators cop a militant attitude, implying that men who do not chase extra-curvy women might be homosexual. Some oversize people of both sexes take it for granted that anyone who resists their advances must be a fat-shamer, which is the moral equivalent of being a racist. Many people do not want to entertain the notion that the problem might instead be their personalities. It all makes for a very tangled psychological landscape.

Do We Lie To Ourselves About Attraction?

An overweight person might be mistaken about the deep-seated reasons for a partner’s preference. A very insecure woman might become romantically linked with an obese man, based on her conviction that no one else will try to steal him away. A normal-weight man who feels inadequate might pair up with an obese woman for the same reason. Motivated by fear of abandonment, people of both sexes have purposely “fattened up” their partners because they mistakenly perceive it as a guarantee of permanence.

Some of the resentment felt by “fat acceptance” advocates seems to originate in genuine misunderstanding. They seem to truly believe that their fate is beyond their control, while other, more fortunate people are just destined to be thin. While it is true that people have different genetics and metabolisms, very few really fit people are able to simply eat as much as they want of whatever they want.

When people discuss mixed romances online, one thing they point out is how different a couple’s values and beliefs are likely to be. When someone is obsessed by the myth that a lean, toned physique just happens naturally and without effort, it is easy to think that physical maintenance is just an excuse for something disreputable. The happily overweight person might think those so-called gym sessions are excuses for the partner to be out flirting or even cheating.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Photos: 7 Women You Won’t Believe They Actually Exist
DailyMail.com, undated
Source: “My mother, the fat logician
Reddit.com, October 2014
Image by TRF_Mr_Hyde

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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