"Hi, Dr. Reneé. I'm glad you're going to have the article and I thought it was ironic because on the day I read it, I was not happy! I'm thinking of having gastric bypass surgery. Everyone tells me I have a pretty face (and I always get a lot of likes on my FB pics) and if I lost weight it might make it easier to get a husband; and that I would feel better about myself. I've looked into it and they'll require counseling before I do it. In my career, I’m successful and always surrounded by men, but no one has approached me. I just wanted to know what you thought.
- Sincerely, V.
Before having the surgery, it sounds as if there are two others areas to focus on first – self-esteem and dating skills. I mention self-esteem because a person with healthy self-esteem is usually not negatively affected by his or her general appearance. (Think of the really skinny guy who truly believes he looks like the Greek god Adonis!)
Self-esteem is taught – usually by your parents during childhood, friends, or other people whose opinion you regard as important. You wrote, “Everyone tells me I have a pretty face and if I lost weight….” Despite good intentions, what you are being taught is that you - just as you are - are not good enough. You might have heard similar messages before and so often that you eventually began to believe them. When a person is taught to view herself negatively, she is also taught to have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem, in essence, is the learned belief that the self is “low”er than everyone else.
According to research, people with low self-esteem are more likely to have less happy lives. People with higher self esteem are more likely to be content and live abundantly. This is because low self-esteem falsely leads a person to believe, “Because I’m not good enough as I am, I am also not good enough to have the best in life.” This is seen in everyday life when a low self-esteem person expects little or less from themselves or others. She may not date because she believes, “No one will want me anyway.” She may not pursue a job promotion because she thinks, “I probably couldn’t handle the pressure.” Or, she may settle into a marriage of convenience because she questions, “Who else will want me?”
If you are having difficulty dating, it may not be because of your weight. It may be because of how you present yourself to potential dates. Do you act insecure? Do you reject compliments? When you do go out, do you hide in the corner? Self-esteem is a self-fulfilling prophecy – what you believe about yourself determines your behavior, and your behavior strongly influences the outcome. If you believe, because of low self-esteem, that guys wont find you attractive, you will act in ways to make yourself unattractive. You may be hard to approach. You may wear sweat pants all the time (and not because they are comfortable). Or, you may decide to not go out with friends. By preventing yourself from attracting others to you, you are preventing yourself from opportunities to get what you want.
So, let’s kill two birds with one stone. If you want to lose weight for health reasons and if you want to meet a future boyfriend, why not consider activities where you can do both. For example, join a bowling league or a team-sport activity. Or, for just social activities, join at least one organization (one with at least 40% men) that has regular outings or meetings. You might also consider a counselor to help you with low self-esteem and dating.
Regardless of which activity you choose, first remember that you - just as you are - are good enough for whatever you want in life. You just have to believe it then, act on it.