“I’m Jealous of Calendar Girls”

I’m 24 and have had a relationship problem since I was 13: I find it offensive and hurtful when my boyfriend looks at other women, watches movies or even when he goes to his parents’ house where he works in his dad’s shop that has calendar girls. I get angry at him and want to break up with him when he sees a stripper in a movie or a naked woman. It’s so painful because those people in movies and on the calendars are perfect and I can’t even come close to looking like that. When I asked my boyfriend if he thought they were better looking than me, he said yes and ever since then, I think about it.

I don’t know what to do with myself or how to fix this. Everything my boyfriend needs he can get from movies these days; I’m useless to him. How am I supposed to compete with good-looking women who get hours of work done on them before a photo shoot? Or a woman who seductively dances well? I can’t do anything sexy. I have tried losing weight and working out which put me at an unhealthy 100 pounds and it seemed like he thought I was more attractive by how he acted. I gained back 10 pounds and stopped working out because I got really sick and didn’t have the energy to stay tiny anymore. I lost my breasts with the weight loss and it made me feel even worse that he was watching movies with busty women. I can’t win. When I’m with him, I find myself always thinking about how I look, if he thinks someone else is better looking, or if a certain position makes me look okay. Every time we cuddle I suck my stomach in so it feels and looks small. I am obsessing about how I look and how other people look but can’t seem to stop. I need help.

I know you will probably say be yourself to be happy, but how to people know who they are? How can people be okay with their partners looking at other women? It’s like cheating to me. I mean, people on TV are being sexy to entice the people watching. Where are the limits? That kind of thing is meant for the bedroom between two lovers. How is it right that my boyfriend is being turned on by another woman and then has to sleep with me after seeing perfect people do things I am not capable of? I just feel so lost. What are some ways to boost my self-esteem? — Not a Calendar Girl

I’m so glad you added your final sentence which implies that you know the problem here is entirely yours and not something your boyfriend is doing wrong — although, I do find it odd that he told you he thought the women in movies are prettier than you, but I suspect such a statement may have come after endless and accusatory questioning on your part so that your exasperated boyfriend finally threw up his arms and surrendered, offering whatever answer he thought might pacify you for the time being. But I could be wrong. If I’m wrong, and your boyfriend thoughtlessly feeds your insecurity, you may want to consider whether you’re with the right person.

But back to your insecurity, which is the driving force behind your unhappiness. If you’re insecure because you think some girl on a calendar or some woman in a movie can offer your boyfriend something you can’t, you’re crazy. You offer him something way, WAY better than they ever could: a third dimension. You’re REAL; those woman are merely images. They can’t do anything for your boyfriend besides provide a momentary diversion. They can’t touch him. They can’t kiss him. They can lie next to him in bed on a Sunday morning. They can’t smile at him with a slight overbite that makes his heart go all aflutter every time he sees it. They can’t sit with him when he gets bad news, or celebrate with him when he hears good news. They can’t go to baseball games with him or bake him a birthday cake or hold his hand in a movie theater like a lovestruck teenager. They can’t remind him to get a birthday card for his grandmother or play him at Scrabble or tell him he needs a haircut. And if you’re worried that they can turn him on in ways you can’t, then lady, it’s time to get in touch with your sensuality because that’s something that every woman, no matter what she looks like or where she’s from, has and can use with amazing results if she knows how.

So, how do you get in touch with your sensuality? Lots of ways! For me, relaxing in a hot bubble bath works. Maybe yoga works for others. Or satin sheets, or wearing sexy underwear or baking a chocolate soufflé. Maybe it’s learning to give a kick-ass back rub, or making a dirty martini, or wearing stiletto heels. You know what I would recommend to you? Belly dancing classes. Since you seem to think only skinny women with perfect calendar girl figures can turn a man on, it would behoove you to surround yourself with women who will not only prove you wrong, they’ll inspire you to use exactly what you have to express your sensuality.

Finally, whether you ever gain the self-esteem you need to maintain a healthy relationship, you need to understand that watching a movie or looking at a calendar (which, by the way: hello, 1987), or simply living among beautiful people does not constitute cheating. You may feel like you can’t measure up, which is something I hope you’ll work on with the help of therapist and some of my suggestions, but in the meantime, know that if you continue to suggest to your boyfriend that he is somehow wronging you by watching a movie, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot. Giving the guy a break will be step one in turning him on.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.


  1. I agree with Wendy.
    I’m not sure what caused you believe that every time a man looks at a woman other than (whether it’s tv, movie, the street) it constitutes cheating. Do you feel the same way when you look at any man other than your boyfriend? If he’s openly flirting, yeah, that’s a problem, but it’s pretty hard to cheat with Counselor Troi on Star Trek if she’s isn’t there in real life.
    As a woman who is definitely not perfect in the looks or body department, sure I get insecure when I see other women in better shape and with prettier faces. But you need to let that go. (And don’t want to judge, but unless you are like 4 foot tall, 110lbs is probably perfect for your body) Everyone has issues with their body. Do you think those models look that pristine when they lay down and snuggle with their boyfriends? No because, no matter what you look like, bodies are flexible moving things, not statues. So you shouldn’t worry about that. If he didn’t like how you looked or felt while doing those things, he would probably avoid doing those things.
    And, there is nothing wrong saying someone is attractive, but telling you they’re more attractive than you, is kind of a jerk thing. But if, like Wendy said, you pushed and pushed until he said it, well then you need to lay off the badgering.
    If he is with you, there is a reason. You have sex, you snuggle, so he obviously finds you attractive.
    Please take some of Wendy’s suggestions and get in touch with your sexy side. It’s not always easy, but with the right mindset and the right support, you can do anything you want. Give those calendar girls a run for their money!

    1. Honestly, 110 lbs is probably too skinny for her height. 110 lbs is a healthy weight for someone as tall as 5’4″, but anything taller than that and you’d be considered underweight. )

      1. You’re right, sorry I didn’t do my homework, too early this morning!

        But I hope you look at the link LW, BMI is not a perfect indicator for everyone, but it should help you understand what your safe weight should be.

      2. caitie_didn't says:

        If she got sick at her lowest weight and didn’t have any energy, it is NOT a healthy weight for her. Regardless of “normal range” or BMI.

      3. I’m glad someone mentioned this. The whole time I was reading this letter it was apparent to me that she probably has an eating disorder of some kind. 110 lbs is skinny and she even admits she lost weight in an unhealthy way. I hope the LW considers seeing a therapist to help her through this. The fact that she’s so unhappy with herself and that she puts so much value on her boyfriend’s opinion that she’s resorting to making herself unhealthy is a serious problem.

      4. Yes, when I first started reading this, I immediately though eating disorder. Most models are 110lbs. If the LW thinks that she needs to suck her stomach in at 110, there is a major issue with her perception of her and other women’s bodies. I don’t think it’s a matter of not feeling sexy, but a matter of getting major counseling..especiall if she’s been feeling like this for a while.

      5. theattack says:

        Well, it really depends on how old she is too. Up until I was about 20, I could not for the life of me gain weight over 110 pounds, and I really tried. If she is 30 years old and 110 pounds, that’s probably an issue. If she’s pretty young though, it very well may be normal for her.

      6. theattack says:

        Oops. I have such a bad habit of not paying attention to important things in the letter and then being clueless in the comments.

      7. I’m 5’4″ and used to weigh 110 lbs. And I’ll tell you what, I was waaay too skinny! I didn’t see it at the time, and I, like you, had insecurity issues and tried to get fitter and lose weight.
        I actually think that BMI isn’t always a good indicator of whether or not you’re underweight. I am now 10 lbs heavier, I am still slim but with sexy hips and breasts and my boyfriend LOVES me this way. Gaining that weight actually helped me gain more confidence in my body – maybe it could work for you as well, LW!
        all the best of luck to you!

    2. I think you win today for using Counselor Troi in context – one of my prepubescent 90’s heart throbs.

      1. Britannia says:

        Yeah, anyone who uses Counselor Troi as a reference for a sex symbol gets permanent BAMF status, in my book! I wish I could give more thumbs up, just for that.

      2. While we’re talking sex symbols and Star Trek, hellllooooo Captain Picard! Chain of Command was an amazingly prescient and compelling two-part episode; Patrick Stewart’s body was also pretty compelling.

      3. Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich says:


        Although, call me crazy, but I have a tiny crush on Data.

      4. Painted_lady says:

        I was a Worf girl all the way. So I have a bit of a thing for the tall, silent type with an incredibly sexy baritone voice. Sue me.

      5. Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich says:

        No, I totally get that too. But come on, Data, he’s programed with three or four different love-making styles.

      6. Britannia says:

        It was so cute when he built “dating programs” when that blonde girl wanted to be his girlfriend.

      7. I was definitely a Data girl.

        ….still am.

      8. Britannia says:

        I loved the way that Worf raised his son. He tried so hard to be super-Klingon-y, but you could just tell that he loved Alexander in a human way. I love how Star Trek intertwined real human relationships and lessons into their science-based plot lines.

      9. Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich says:

        No kidding. I love their methodical exploration of ethics and human/nonhuman natures. *sigh*

      10. this is still my favorite name on DW, always makes me laugh.

      11. Britannia says:

        DATA DATA DATA ALL THE WAY! omg I love him. Shortly behind him is Seven of Nine, though (I’m bisexual). Data is the absolute best!

      12. Britannia says:

        Oh and 3rd in the line up is Q’s girlfriend (from the Voyager series, her debut was in “The Q and the Grey”), the red-headed one who ends up producing the first child Q in the Continuum. She was SO hot… and her accent and wit were just too sexy.

  2. I know we need to build this LW up, because she has low self esteem. But seriously, I have never heard of a more shallow person in my life! She is this obsessed with looks? How does this even happen? Girl look- your body will change when you have babies, and it will change when you get old. It will have stretch marks and wrinkles and sun spots and saggy skin. It might even get cancer and parts of it will be radiated and removed. You’re complaining that your boobs aren’t big enough? Go to a nursing home- one day you WILL look like that. I bet when you’re 80 years old, you will wish you appreciated what your youthful body looked like. One day when you can’t walk up steps anymore- you’ll wish you had appreciated what your youthful body could DO.

    Your body is there to be used. It is there to hug your loved ones and run around and play games and create life and nurture babies and there so you can experience the world and LIVE YOUR LIFE. You need to start appreciating your body for what it can do, and not how it looks. If you need to remove every mirror in your house until you get a fucking grip on what matters in this world, do so.

    1. caitie_didn't says:

      Seriously. Your body is an instrument. The LW should be proud of all the things it does for her.

      It’s therapy time for this LW. Her boyfriend probably feels like he can’t win no matter what he says- the LW really isn’t being fair to him and honestly, I think she needs to break up with him until she’s got her shit together.

      On a less-harsh note, I’d also strongly recommend the LW take up a sport. I started rock climbing this year and it’s totally changed how I think about my body and how much I appreciate my strength.

      1. I thought of the athletics angle, too. I was pretty down on my body in early high school (who isn’t, right!?) until I joined the swim team. I never was very fast, but after awhile I started to really appreciate how my body’s strength could be used to move through the water. My looks didn’t change all that much, but the confidence boost (and endorphins!) you get from *doing* is great.

    2. SO true! I used to obsess about my body even more than I do now, which is still a lot, but then I heard someone say “Right now is the best that you’re ever going to look, so take advantage.” It’s so true! Someday I’ll have wrinkles, saggy skin, maybe I’ll have had a baby and my hips will be wider, etc. Not that those are bad things, but the point is, if I can’t deal with my body the way that it is right now, how am I supposed to be equipped to deal with it when these things happen to it later?

    3. Thank you for saying that!! I was reading this letter thinking, “Are you Fing kidding me?!”

      1. All I thought while reading was “YOU. NEED. THERAPY.”

    4. A round of applause and fists fulls of glitter in the air for this answer. You nailed it. Plus, I think this is an exit ramp past low self esteem and well on the way to obsessive fixation land. She needs to talk to someone to figure out the root of this issue…without without the baggage of a relationship. I hope she gets help.

      1. i want fist fulls of glitter!! thats awesome!

        oh, and that painting of you on yesterday’s post was amazing FYI. i didnt comment for whatever reason, but it was awesome.

  3. In all those debates about the media´s role in self esteem issues (of regular women), I usually think but if everyone KNOWS it´s photoshop, special filters, special lighting, makeup, etc.
    Apparently I was wrong…
    Like Jess says above, your body will change so many times through life. After my 1st baby I was back to usual. Now my 2nd baby is 7 months old, I still have a small pouch on my tummy, cellulite (I hardly had any before), muffin top, not to mention my boobs, after breastfeeding 2 babies (the 1st to nearly a year, this one probably longer, she´s hooked!!). Do I wish my body was how it was 5 years ago? Sure. Would I give up what I have now to have that body back? No way. And I´m sure my husband doesn´t either, no matter how much he might appreciate Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba or whoever (I don´t mind, I´ve got George Clooney ;)).
    These women your BF looks at aren´t real, YOU are.

  4. I’m going to give you some advice that might not be PC, but it has helped my confidence level and it might help you too. Find someone who is morbidly obese and sexy. I have a friend who is substantially (and unhealthily) overweight, but it doesn’t stop her from hooking up with random dudes, and it didn’t stop her from having a happy and fulfilled six-year relationship. Sometimes I would get a touch of body dysmorphia and feel like I was her size, but then I would remember that she’s still sexy because that’s how she presents herself, and guys (and girls) like that. They don’t care that she’s morbidly obese. It’s all about her confidence level.

    And now to my more important point: you might have body dysmorphia. Check out the Mayo Clinic’s page on it:

    1. I’m happy you brought up body dysmorphic disorder. That is the first thing I thought, especially knowing she is 110 lbs and still thinks she needs to suck in her tummy. It is a real and very serious disorder that can (and apparently has since she said she got since) have really horrible consequences.

    2. YES! I definitely think, regardless of what happens in her relationship with her BF, the LW seriously ought to consider therapy to help her with both her body issues and her ideas about what constitutes a healthy relationship.

    3. It’s actually really nice to see you say that! We’re all so worried about being PC all the time that sometimes we go too far. People are what they are, and you’re still being respectful.
      You actually made me remember how I felt when Jennifer Hudson lost all that weight – because I thought she was the sexiest woman ever, and she was so confident and positive and had this great budding career and it was awesome. When she lost weight, I felt like okay, sure, good for her if she’s doing it to be healthy, but…I couldn’t help but feel a little sad, because now she’s just kind of another superthin superstar. I and wonder if some little girl somewhere has internalized that she *has* to lose weight, because famous successful people can’t be big.

  5. The last poster, Christy, mentioned an important point that occurred to me almost right off the bat. This poster may have some psychological issues such as body dysmorphic disorder and/or an eating disorder. Please start therapy with a qualified counselor who specializes in issues like this. Your current issues are not related to your current boyfriend, they will stay with you so please get help sooner than later. You do not have to live like this.

    Also, she mentioned that she’s had this problem since age 13. I wonder if some kind of trauma happened to her at that age. Definitely worth exploring the root cause of this in therapy to help work through it.

    1. Sorry, in second sentence meant LW, not poster 🙂

  6. There was a recent article on photoshopping, and the before/after is amazing. Im on my mobile now, so I can’tcan link. Fascinating how scientists can detect how truly well-done photoshopped morphs celebrities and models.

      1. Thanks for posting that!! It was very eye opening!

      2. Wow! That was amazing! I mean, there’s knowing about photoshopping, and then there’s actually seeing it.

      3. Yes, in fact creepy. Some models don’t even look like themselves. All were naturally attractive, but the photo-shopping actually just made them look plastic. No wonder why so many individuals use Botox.

      4. I was really interested in how their actual skin color changed. Not just evened out, totally different color! And how beautiful, thin women were slimmed even more.

      5. And now I’m just sitting here watching Fergie’s boobs go in…and out….and in….and out…

      6. theattack says:

        This may be a stupid question, but isn’t photoshop just for still images? Can they change stuff in film to the extent they do in pictures?

      7. bittergaymark says:

        It’s much more expensive, but yes… The photoshop moving pictures all the time in Hollywood. I personally was in a session where the smoothed out on actresses bulging tummy for Charlie’s Angels….

      8. They can also do amazing things with wardrobe to pinch and push where it’s needed.

  7. You know intellectually that even the models don’t look like the models in real life – right? My dear, there will always be someone prettier, smarter, taller, shorter, less attractive, more delusional etc. than you. Pick whatever adjective you want – someone will be more and someone will be less. There are almost 7 billion people on the planet. That is just fact. You know what else is fact? None of that has anything to do with you. Just like you have no bearing on the women less attractive and sexy than you are. We are all given one life to do the most we can with it. Why on earth are you wasting yours worried about things that have nothing to do with you? Your low self esteem seems crippling. I think you need a little therapy to get to the bottom of it so you can be grateful for the body you have and fully embrace the life you have been given. Maybe some volunteer time with people truly in need would put your life in better perspective. Good luck.

  8. There is something so deeply rooted that I don’t think the LW can just “shake” her insecurities herself. It may be body dysmorphic disorder, as mentioned above, but her issues seem more with other women, rather than herself per se. I realize that she’s trying to “compete” with them (hence the weight loss), but I don’t think it’s the same as the obsessing over one’s own body image that goes along with that disorder.

    Regardless, she is in need of professional help.

  9. Haven’t met a model or seen an actress in movies that looked better or even the same in person than in their shoot photos so don’t focus on that so much. Your insecurity will just push your bf away – try to work on it with Wendy’s advice and recognize you are probably projecting a lot of your boy friends “perceptions” because of your insecurity. I don’t know many guys that would be pumped their gf’s breasts went down a cup size because she was underweight and if they are they are a bad influence.

    1. I think he responded to her weight loss because she felt better about herself.

      1. “I have tried losing weight and working out which put me at an unhealthy 100 pounds and it seemed like he thought I was more attractive by how he acted.”

        I would group that in with her projecting those feelings.

      2. Yeah…no mention of him actually *saying* anything that would indicate he was more attracted. I’d bet he could care less, or possibly even wished she had stayed the same, but acted supportive because she seemed happier.

  10. LW,
    My heart goes out to you. It sounds like you are truly in pain. Your debilitating insecurity need not be a permanent fixture in your life, however. Please take Wendy’s and the other posters’ advice to seek professional help for this. You may also need to take some time as a single person to build up your sense of self- it sounds like being in a relationship feeds your harmful self-hatred. Having respect for yourself is fundamental to having healthy relationships (and a healthy life!), so take any measures necessary to work on fostering that respect. Please do not wait to get help, or assume your this problem will magically self-heal. Recognizing your own worth is too important to wait.

  11. LW, I think you should seriously consider finding a qualified eating and body disorder counselor. They would be able to guide you through what is and isn’t healthy, ways to cope, etc. Your letter was really alarming for me since I had a very good friend in high school that really could have written this letter if she were still with us. Unfortunately, she became anorexic and it did so much damage to her body and we lost her when she was only 19. Please please please seek professional help.

    Here is something I like to reference any time I start feeling crappy – its not about models but its about the original “model” for many of us as kids – Barbie vs the real woman:

    Average woman’s height is 5’4″
    Their weight is approx. 140 lbs.
    They wear a size 14 dress
    Their bust is between 36″ and 37″ (B cup)
    Their waist is between 30″ and 34″
    Their hips average between 40″ and 42″
    Their shoe size is estimated to be between 8.5 and 9.5

    Barbie’s height would be 7’2″
    Her weight would be 101 lbs.
    She would wear a size 4 dress
    Her bust would be 39″ (FF cup)
    Her waist would be 19″ (same as her head)
    Her hips would be 33″
    Her shoe size would be a 5


    1. Sounds like she would topple over – small feet, tall, 20 lbs hanging off of her front.

      1. Gwen Soul says:

        I think I read somewhere that a real Babie woudl eb so underwieght she would never have a period and would not beable to support herself.

      2. When we discussed it in a psych class, her body would be so disproportionate that her organs wouldn’t have the room they need to function properly. Plus her head would just kinda wobble because her neck wouldn’t be able to support it.

    2. Britannia says:

      I don’t think ANYONE really, honestly uses Barbie as a role model for how they should look or how they should act. After all, she was originally modeled after a high-class escort.

  12. Sounds cliche, but I’d 100% recommend taking up a hobby, any hobby that you know that you will enjoy. The belly dancing idea is great, but if that’s not for you, then literally ANYTHING that really interests you. If you’re obsessing over something, it’s really, really helpful to have a more positive place to direct your energy. I didn’t believe it until I tried it.

  13. Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com says:

    Just loving every sentence that Wendy wrote today.

    To LW, I am so sorry honey that you are struggling with these issues. I do think, it gets easier for many women as they get older. When you are new to your identity as a romantic partner and sexual being, you only have these (destructive) images of women in the media to compare to. It’s misleading and unfortunate because all of us in the real world, men and women, have so much, much, more than what can be visualized on a screen. Particularly as Wendy mentions, the tactile sensations and the emotional connections we share with our partners.

    My only additional piece of advice, building on what Wendy said, is to seek out and amplify your female friendships. Choose strong, kind, and genuine women to befriend. They will boost you up, give you healthy examples of how real women develop confidence, and share their similar stories, fears, and insecurities.

  14. LW, surely you’ve noticed an attractive man in a movie or on TV. That’s not cheating. And it doesn’t mean you don’t find your boyfriend attractive. Models and actresses just look like slightly more attractive people, and then they are photoshopped and caked with the best makeup there is. And then sometimes they get big heads or act bitchy or have stupid hobbies. That’s why normal people don’t ACTUALLY want to date them. Why date someone who is only attractive because they are wearing a lot of makeup and who may be kind of obnoxious to be around? Personally, there are some actors who I think are really hot. They may be tall with striking blue eyes and lots of muscles, but I have never actually been attracted to a guy like that in person.

    Self-confidence is something that a therapist could help with. It sounds like this is really ingrained in you, so it might take a while to work on getting rid of those beliefs.

    1. Absolutely yes.

      Actors are hot and fun to watch (just watched Goldeneye again last night and mmmmmm Pierce Brosnan) but whenever I see someone that model-esque in real life (and have to interact with them) I actually get kind of…weirded out. Definitely not attracted. (Sorry sorry sorry to any actor-hot dudes who may have picked up on my creepy vibe. Not your fault.)

      My boyfriend, on the other hand, is certainly not model-esque…and I wouldn’t have him any other way. I’m actually slightly sad that he has recently determined that he needs to be healthier and lose a little weight. I mean, it’ll be cool to see him with ripped abs or whatever, but I will mourn the loss of my nice snuggly teddy bear tummy.
      ….but don’t tell him, he’s really pleased with himself. 🙂

      1. summerkitten26 says:

        totally agree with this! my boyfriend’s overweight and got a ton of ish for it growing up and from exes. I myself have had problems with how I perceive my body even though I’m a healthy weight. it broke my heart when early in our relationship he asked me why I was with him since living a healthy lifestyle is a big thing for me and he is obviously heavier than he wants to be/should healthily be and I told him that healthy actions mattered more to me than weight. he was trying to be healthy, exercise and eat right. I’ve known far too many people who get told that they’re unhealthy because they look heavier than society thinks they should be even if they lead textbook healthy lives. I’ve also known far too many who will take every drug/engage in unhealthy practices to get that society image. LW, get yourself healthy, mentally and physically. the guy who is right for you will be the guy who loves healthy you, and this may be your boyfriend. he could value you for you when you’re in a healthy place, but you won’t know until you get to that place

  15. GatorGirl says:

    LW, you sound like you’re in a lot of pain. As Wendy and many of the other posters suggested, please get some help. If you’re in college there may be low or no cost counsiling avaliable. The National Eating Disorder Association has a toll-free hotline that could help as you hinted around at an eating disorder. You are not alone. Having doubts about your physical appearance is part of every man and womans life. I struggled with anorexia in high school, I was 20 pounds under weight. I had a wonderful teacher reach out to me and help me recover, but honestly it is a daily struggle still. I’ve maintained a healthy weight for 5 years now, but just like an alcoholic it is a life long struggle. My point is – there is no magic fix for how you’re feeling. You’ve already taken the first step in recovery by reaching out for help. With good counsiling and developing coping methods that work for you, you’ll be able to live a long, happy, productive life. Good luck!!

  16. You really need to get some therapy. These started when you were 13? What happened as a teenager that you have that little self esteem? Really you’re basically saying your boyfriend shouldn’t leave the house, shouldn’t watch tv, read magazine, or speak to another woman ever again. Hopefully you do realize that is unrealistic and bordering on crazy. Hopefully you take Wendy’s advice. If you’re not careful you’ll end up without a boyfriend to worry about.

  17. John Rohan says:

    One of the big ironies here is that many of these same supermodels and Playboy playmates are also very insecure about their appearance! BTW, as some people mentioned, unless the LW is very short, 100 lbs is ridiculously thin, and most men don’t find that attractive at all. Supermodels often look thinner than they are because they are very tall and their bodies look a little stretched out.

    The LW reminds me of my own SO when we started dating. Thank heaven she got over it, or we would have split apart a long time ago. Every time I inadvertently glanced at some short skirt or bikini-clad woman walking by, she would either give me the silent treatment or it would start a fight. And I never said she was less attractive than anyone. She was very attractive, and I told her so, many times.

    But here’s how I solved that problem. Instead of constantly denying it or apologizing, which wasnt’ working, I embraced it. I told her: “look, it’s not rocket science. You committed to a heterosexual man. I like women. That’s how I am. I was born this way. If you want a man that doesn’t find women attractive, you could choose an asexual or gay man instead”. She started to “get it” after that point, and it wasn’t really a problem again, unless I really went overboard. In fact, now we joke to each other about attractive men/women we see walking by. This LW needs to understand that not everything in the world is about her. (Most) men really enjoy looking at attractive women (studies show that most women do too – flip through any issue of Vogue or Cosmo and see for yourself!). They are wired that way. So don’t hate it, embrace it, and enjoy it!

    1. Your last couples of sentences are so true. I’m a heterosexual female and check out other women. In fact, I’m rather small in size, everywhere, so I too, will look at a woman’s cleavage. Mainly because I don’t have much to look at and I’m slightly in awe, or envious. Although not enough to ever consider implants.

  18. silver_dragon_girl says:

    LW, please, please seek out professional counselling. The problems you describe here go beyond simple self-esteem issues. 100-110 pounds is almost certainly underweight, and the fact that you still think you have to suck in your stomach is really worrisome to me. You are obsessing over appearances and comparing yourself to every other women you see or meet. This is not healthy. It’s very possible you have an eating disorder of some kind, and trust me, you don’t just “get over” those.

    Please, seek out a qualified therapist to help you with this.

    1. Eagle Eye says:

      Eh, not to be overly obsessive or anything but please don’t say that 110-100 lbs is underweight,

      I’m 5’3″ and I usually fluctuate between 115-110 and that’s perfectly healthy for me, especially since i have a pretty narrow build (what I wouldn’t give for some actual shoulders…, see EVERYONE has body issues).

      But what this LW does need is some counseling to help her deal with her body/ eating issues, if she can be a *healthy* 110 then that’s one thing but if she’s starving herself than that’s quite another story.

      1. So true. For slender women, weight between 110 – 120 is normal as long as they’re healthy and getting the nutrients their body needs.

        And everyone does have body issues. Also, can I just say sometimes I wish magazines would show more clothes options for girls with a boy shape. I’m in serious need of work pants for longs legs, flat ass that don’t cost a fortune. Yes, everyone has body issues.

      2. iseeshiny says:

        I feel you on that – I have no hips or butt and carry all my extra baggage on my tummy and chest and so anything that fits in the waist is huge in the hips. Like, hammerpants. I wear a lot of skirts to work and for jeans I wear a 34″ mens. Dress pants are almost impossible!

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Gap pants long length, with back pockets!

      4. silver_dragon_girl says:

        That’s why I said, “almost certainly.” If she updates and says she’s 5′ 2″ then, well, she’s fine.

        But I’ve heard WAY too many “recovering” girls with eating disorders talk about how “that’s just where they are naturally” and “but I feel much better at this weight” and “but I have a really small frame, so 104 is healthy for me even though I’m 5′ 8″” etc, etc. If 100 pounds was so low that she had no energy and got “really sick” then I doubt 110 pounds is all that much better. Now, obviously I don’t know that, I’m just speculating. But I’ve watched my sister fluctuate from about 110 pounds to about 250 (and she’s 5′ 7″) while dealing with her anorexia, and I’d much rather err on the side of caution with this LW than let her think this is just a “self-esteem issue” if it’s more than that.

    2. GatorGirl says:

      I’ve got to second what Eagle Eye said; 100-110 can be a perfectly health weight. I’m 5’2 and am considered healthy when I’m with in that range. But if you’re 5’7 you’d be underweight. It is impossible to pick one weight and say it is healthy or unhealthy for everyone.

      I’m having a hard time phrasing this, but to someone with an eating disorder 100 is a magical number. I’ve struggled with anorexia since high school, and although I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight for a few years the scale will forever be an enemy.

      1. Eagle Eye says:

        Yeah, i don’t own a scale anymore – I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder but I can get myself super obsessed with my weight – which is clearly not useful or helpful so I don’t own a scale so that I can’t obsess over a number

        Also, LW, this is not a bad idea for you either, get rid of the scale, it helps to focus on how your body feels – do you feel healthy this morning? Maybe go for a jog and just focus on how it feels to let your body run and move and do all of these wonderful things. That’s one of the ways I combat my body issues.

      2. silver_dragon_girl says:

        I think one of the issues with that is that we, as women, tend to have totally unrealistic ideas of what everyone else weighs. We hear a celebrity say she’s 117 pounds and think “OMG I’m so fat, I weigh 165!” But what we don’t realize is that she’s probably 6 inches shorter than us, or with a much smaller frame, or something. So we get these numbers stuck in our head as “normal” when they may be entirely unrealistic for us.

      3. She’s probably also lying about her weight. If I was a celebrity, I’d certainly knock 20 pounds off my actual weight.

      4. Eagle Eye says:

        well, i think that we loose sight that as women – well, our bodies are awesome, i mean, just look at Wendy and how she actually created a baby! Our bodies allow us to live and experience life, and move and feel things that I think that we forget when we’re obsessing about weight…

        I really think that numbers are only useful when talking to your dr about how much you should weigh to be HEALTHY, but besides that, a scale is really useless

      5. Britannia says:

        Getting rid of the scale did me a world of good. Now, I measure my body’s awesomeness in terms of how far and long I can run, or how long I can tear up the dance floor on. When you start fixating on what your body can DO instead of how it LOOKS, things get much easier and more enjoyable.

  19. LW, just wanted to add my voice to the chorus: you–real, flawed, imperfect, beautiful, intelligent you–ARE. By that alone, you are 1000% more than those air-brushed, touched-up, fantasies you fear.

    Get counseling. See your doctor and a nutritionist about achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Find clothes that make you feel beautiful, and a haircut that makes you feel good. Consult friends with style, or hire a fashion coordinator. Throw yourself into your hobbies and develop your full, non-physical potential. Intelligence is HOT. Beauty fades, but brains last.

    And as a woman of…ah…modest curves, let me tell you what my husband once told me: anything more than a handful is just wasted.

    1. My frined Mike has a gift for making anyone – man or woman – feel special. About curvy women, he says that if woman has a healthy appetite for food, she probably has a healthy appetite for other things.

  20. I used to have similar feelings… for some reason my first boyfriend would *ALWAYS* say to me, “[whatever girl was on tv or in a magazine] looks like you.” BUT THEY DIDN’T! hahaha… so I thought he was trying to say I *should* look like them… anyway, confusion & insecurity ensued.

    basically, i just learned the fine art of appreciating beautiful women. though I have my *own* look & i will never look like anyone other than myself in whatever moment i’m in… now I look at other women – EVERY woman, not just “pretty” ones – through the eyes of the person that loves her. it makes everyone the most beautiful : )

    in particular, paintings of women in museums might be a good place for you to start. it’s amazing to see the loving embrace of art & to realize that if the artist had wanted to, he/she could have “edited” that extra tummy roll or whatever… but he/she saw beauty there & you can too

    Love makes beauty. Your boyfriend should think you’re beautiful because he loves you. Confidence is sexy because it shows self-love. Focusing on love opens up the beauty all around.

    1. also, now when i’m with men i notice men & women equally & it honestly makes me look & feel really cool & open. I always point it out – with a guy i’m interested in or not – & i point out both genders too. it makes my dates more confident that i’m interested in them if i’m so comfortable to indicate, yes, i can also appreciate other men & other women… if that makes sense – i’m rambling typing super fast so i can get back to work

      just last night, i was out with a group of men at an industry party & i said out loud, “awww!” & my coworker turned to look where i was looking – at a really beautiful blonde woman who was super cutely accessorized… – he looked back at me kind of surprised & i go, “oh, i just love a cutie : )” his reaction made me feel like *I* was the beautiful one & I did feel more beautiful just for having seen & loved the woman stranger…. : )

      good luck, lw!!! you’re very beautiful, i promise.

    2. lets_be_honest says:

      Check out the websites that show before/after photoshopping. Crazy!

      1. dartmouth.edu REPRESENT lol

  21. Landygirl says:

    I’m just gonna throw this idea in the pot because it immediatly popped into my mind when I read this letter…LW, were you abused as a young girl? I can’t help but think that this extreme insecurity doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, it has to be ingrained in you. Who in your past put the idea in your head that you weren’t good enough? This problem needs more than just a response from Wendy on the internet, it needs therapy.

    1. I didn’t want to ask because I’ve been accused of projecting in past columns’ comment sections, but this is what I thought too. In the past, or even currently.
      Maybe the guy is, like Wendy said, a nice guy tired of being pushed around by her insecurities. But maybe he isn’t. I was in an abusive relationship once, and the guy used to tell me all the time I wasn’t as pretty as his ex girlfriend and that I was awfully fat (at 5’5 and 130 lbs). And then I lost like 20 pounds and he started complaining that I didn’t have boobs anymore. I could have written this letter then. I felt all of this things.

    2. GatorGirl says:

      Your question is a great. Maybe the letter writter wasn’t abused but maybe some other traumatic event happened. I know my eating issues came out of my mom getting married and having two other children. I felt like I had zero control and food was one thing I could control. Maybe the LW had/has a mean mom/sibling/dad/grandparent that has told her she isn’t good enough for her whole life. It’s not something the LW can deal with on her own, she needs real professional help.

  22. Wow, this was a really painful read. LW, I’m really glad you’re acknowledging there’s a problem and taking steps to help yourself. As many others suggested, therapy with an appropriate counselor would probably be a really good idea. I’ll also second Wendy’s suggestion of a belly dancing class (this is a great idea!) – usually these are women only classes, and if you go into it with an open mind and the idea of having fun, it can be really good for your self-image.
    A few other suggestions that came to mind:

    1. You say you’re useless to your boyfriend, so consider making a list of things you can do for your boyfriend that have nothing to do with looks. If you have trouble with this, start with a list of the things your boyfriend does for you that men in movies don’t. Start with 5 things. Keep it simple. Do you cook him dinner every once in awhile? Did you bring him a gift he loved for his birthday? Do you help him pick out a tie? Repeat this list to yourself every day, and make a goal to add just 1 thing to the list every week.

    2. Enlist your boyfriend’s help in learning to value yourself (assuming he’s supportive). Maybe he can remind you when you’re with him to focus on him and whatever fun thing you’re doing rather than how you look and whether your position is flattering. Maybe you can agree to avoid watching TV when you’re together for a couple of months, and focus instead on having fun – playing board games or video games (if you have a wii or a kinect, there are a lot of active fun games that have animals as characters). Ask him to help you focus on non-body things. Challenge yourself – see if you can go 30 minutes without thinking of how you look, then 1 hour, etc.

    3. Play with your boyfriend. Playing is one of the most important activities we can do for ourselves and a lot of adults ignore it – they think it’s for kids, or a luxury they can’t afford right now. But it’s crucial to physical and mental health. Play is any activity that you can get completely immersed in, that you enjoy, and during which you lose track of time. In losing track of time, you’ll also lose track of your self-consciousness. Check out this website for information and ideas on playing:

    1. I was pretty psyched to see the belly dancing suggestion as well. I just started taking classes a few months ago, and it is SO MUCH FUN! Not only that, but all the women are really accepting of each other – regardless of size or appearance. There are a lot of “bigger” women that can belly dance REALLY well, and look super-sexy doing it.

    2. “so consider making a list of things you can do for your boyfriend that have nothing to do with looks.”
      “Enlist your boyfriend’s help in learning to value yourself ”
      “Play with your boyfriend”

      I’m sure this was well intentioned advice but I have to say it’s pretty dangerous. She already derives her non-existent self worth and value from her boyfriend. Keeping her dependent upon his love and approval is a pretty clear path to having her always look to her boyfriend for personal validation. God forbid they break up. She’d probably become very emotional unstable.
      She needs to stop looking for outside validation and find it within herself, not from her relationship. I actually don’t think she should be in one right now. As my mama said ‘if you can’t love yourself, then you’re in no place to love someone else’.

      1. I see what you’re saying, but I still think my advice is valid. It’s not intended to be keeping her dependent on her boyfriend. It’s intended to be a first step in focusing her attention away from her looks. This is a cycle that she likely can’t get out of on her own. And her problem seems to be directly linked to how she values herself as part of a relationship.

        She needs to get it out of her head that she doesn’t add value to the relationship beyond what she looks like, so she needs to see where she DOES add value. If my advice had been “ask your boyfriend to tell you all the reasons he loves you”, then yes, I would agree with you. But coming up with reasons why you add value to a relationship is a valid method of moving yourself beyond thinking that your only value in a relationship is your looks and your ability to arouse your partner. It’s self-validation. It’s the same as saying to someone who thinks they’re ugly to make a list of the parts they like about themselves, and remind themselves everyday of the fact that you always like how your hair looks, or whatever.

        As for enlisting your boyfriend’s help, why is it a problem to ask for help focusing on what’s important? If you’re spending all of your time focused on how you look, you probably can’t snap out of that on your own. Having someone to say “hey, pay attention to what we’re doing” can be the reminder she needs. This could be anyone she spends a lot of time with – she only mentions her boyfriend, so he’s the logical choice.

        Same goes for the advice to play. Play with your boyfriend instead of paying attention to whether there are other women in his field of vision. When someone is playing, all of their attention is focused on the activity – if it isn’t, they’re not in a state of play. So beyond all the psychological benefits she can get from playing, there’s also the fact that she think back on the playtime and go “I spent three hours without once thinking how do I look in this pose, am I doing something that makes me look fat?”.

        It’s wonderful to say “find validation within yourself”, but that’s not a first step. Nor is it a concrete example of ways to boost your self-esteem and refocus your life away from an obsession with your looks. Love yourself, find validation within yourself, like yourself for who you are, these are platitudes. I don’t even know how I would begin taking any of that advice. She needs goals and small things she can do to change her outlook, which will hopefully eventually lead to the boost in self-esteem she asks for.

      2. I understand the need for concrete advice but don’t you see the issue with this statement? ‘And her problem seems to be directly linked to how she values herself as part of a relationship.’
        Isn’t that link dangerous? isn’t that link something that should be disassociated? Her self-value needs to come from a lot of outlets, her relationship is just one small and more likely than not temporary piece of the whole picture. And again what happens when/if he’s not around anymore?

        ‘This is a cycle that she likely can’t get out of on her own’- i think thats exactly how she’s going to get out of it. In fact I think thats the only way.

      3. Interesting. I was coming at it from the assumption that she had some self-value from whatever else she does with her life – friends, job, family – and that her problem was relationship-oriented. She doesn’t mention that she thinks her friends only like her because she’s pretty or she only got her job based on her looks, so I was thinking that her problem is that she believes men only value women in terms of their looks, and therefore the only thing that she can bring to a relationship is her looks. There didn’t seem (to me) to be an indication that her self-esteem issues were affecting all parts of her life. In hindsight, that’s probably naive of me.

      4. hmm. That perspective is also interesting. But I do wonder if people can really compartmentalize how they feel about themselves in that way.
        On top of that she wrote this:
        “I know you will probably say be yourself to be happy, but how to people know who they are?”
        which further lead me to believe that she seems pretty lost in general and within this relationship and that it was affecting her feelings about her self-value at large.

  23. LW please seek professional help. You need to work with someone on fixing your self-esteem and finding out why you got this way. I would also suggest talking to a professional about your relationship. I suspect the boyfriend is exasperating this issue. Have you been dating the same guy since your were 13? If so then something is definitely wrong with your relationship.

  24. lets_be_honest says:

    I haven’t read the other comments so maybe I’m reiterating things already said but here goes…

    I think to a degree, we’ve all been there, LW. I can look in the mirror somedays and see a fat, freckled covered face with a broken nose and crooked teeth that aren’t white. Somedays I see what I want to see. Somedays I can be jealous.
    What’s worked for me is to remind myself I’m the only person on the planet who is me. I know, sounds silly. But so does what you’re saying, so who cares! No one else has, as Wendy put it, a smile with a slight overbite that makes his heart go all aflutter every time he sees it. If you are with a man that truly loves you, you should know this.
    Its flaws that make people different, and flaws that while horrible in your eyes, are probably the things that make your boyfriend love you (and your friends and family too). My first boyfriend was not a typically cute guy, but to me, he was insanely cute. I loved his flaws, they made him him. My stepdad recently told me that no one in the world has a smile as contagious as mine. As I already said, I’m not really a fan of my crooked browned teeth. I never thought anyone could be. But apparently people think I have a great smile.
    And finally, I was very flat chested in high school (still am). If your high school was anything like mine, boys wanted big boobs and the girls who had them got a lot of attention. You know the only reason they probably got any attention (at least intially)? Yup, only because they had big boobs. Not because they were amazing girls, had brains, were funny… I guess I was pretty smart to realize then that I was glad I didn’t have a big chest, because if a guy liked me, it was because of ME, not my big chest.

  25. I really second Wendy’s advice here — especially thinking about reasons the LW’s boyfriend is with her/what she gives him that a girl in a magazine doesn’t.

    One of the telling things I picked out of this letter was how she felt that he liked her more when she lost weight. That could be her own perception of his attitude, since it was a bit of a throwaway comment with no evidence… but I also get the feeling that he may have expressed more attraction toward her then because she gained a little bit of confidence at that point.

    Don’t make the mistake of correlating skinniness with attraction!! Improving your own body image and self-esteem will probably do a lot more for how people perceive you than changing your body would… loving yourself and being comfortable and confident in your own skin is the most attractive quality to have.

  26. I don’t know if this will help (it depends really) but try to remember how your thoughts sound when you notice an attractive guy. Do you compare him, feature-by-feature, to your boyfriend? Probably not. Are you still thinking about him 20 minutes later? An hour later, do you even have a clear picture of what he looked like? Not really, right? And when you’re home with your boyfriend, does your mind ever go back to that random attractive dude? Are you like “Oh, I wish it were him instead of my boyfriend next to me!” No. (I would hope!)

    So your boyfriend isn’t doing this either. If he makes disparaging comments about you or willingly admits other women are more attractive, then get rid of him (because men who do this are also doing it to the best-looking girls. They’re douches). But keep in mind that any attractive women your dude looks at are taking up more space in YOUR head than his.

    1. Yes, that exactly. That’s what I do and it really works for me. It’s a very good one.

  27. I used to be the same way, but then I finally accepted myself. Surprisingly this happened after I had children and realized what my body could do. Instead of comparing myself to what I thought was perfection, I embraced what I had and learned to dress accordingly and have my own style. Confidence is the key-no matter how you look, if you are confident you have a radiance that attracts others. Just recently as I realized I am approaching 40 and still have not gotten into the shape I wanted I started to feel a bit down. Fortunately, I am in a relationship with someone that makes me feel beautiful and loves me the way I am but I couldn’t shake the tinge of sadness I was feeling realizing that I was getting older and changing. I wanted to feel better for myself so I made my mind up to just jump in and do something I have always wanted to do but held myself back from. I went and joined my local roller derby team! I cannot tell you what a HUGE difference it has made! To see girls of all shapes and sizes, some of them over 50 years old, being totally badass and beautiful was awesome and once I strapped on the skates and started I felt so awesome- feeling my body working and being unaware of what I look like in short shorts and fishnets. It is the most liberating thing I have ever done, and the family of strong women I have now has changed me forever. Since I have started, those feelings have turned into confidence and it shows with everyone that I see- they comment on how happy I look all the time. Life is too short, do something you have always wanted to do and it will take your mind off the negative. Roller derby may not be it for you, but there are plenty of things out there that will set you free- I guarantee it!!!!

  28. You need help. Period. Go see a therapist right now. Go see a DOCTOR right now. Your boyfriend is with YOU, not with these calendar girls. You aren’t seeing that. What you are seeing is the images that the media has put out there for advertising. You need to learn to accept yourself, as HE has accepted yourself.
    Your boyfriend may have very well been pitying you when he paid more attention to you when you were smaller, and you took that for “more attracted”. You have always been attractive to him, regardless of what you weigh, regardless of your size.

    Stop dieting, stop messing with your size. You will only make yourself sick. Get help now. Please update us as soon as you are well and continue updating us periodically so we KNOW that you are okay.

  29. I agree with the other posters that the LW suffers from low self-esteem and likely an eating disorder. She needs to become comfortable and happy with her body. Clearly, her bf must find her attractive, otherwise, he wouldn’t be with her.

    The biggest thing is, she needs to stop thinking she has to be the most attractive woman in the world, even in her bf’s eyes. The bf really doesn’t need to and shouldn’t see her as the most attractive woman in the world. He should see her as the most wonderful woman and the best woman for him. For this, being seen as attractive is only the first and far from the most important thing. He needs to enjoy her sense of humor, be impressed by her intelligence, kindness, sense of purpose, and honesty. Ideally, they share common interests and values and are happy around the same group of friends. She has such a one-dimensional view of herself. She is either the most attractive woman of all time, or she is nothing and worthless to the man she loves.

    She clearly needs a lot of reassurance about her physical appearance and I’m going to assume that bf is trying to provide that. If he is criticizing how she looks, then he is a big part of the problem and she won’t be able to get healthy while she is with him.

  30. Two thoughts…

    It seems to me that comparing yourself to anyone is an invitation to crazy-making behavior. Either you’re making an incomplete comparison by looking at a few individual pieces of the whole (her tits are bigger, my SAT scores were higher, my eyebrow hair grows more symmetrically than his) or you spend your ENTIRE life trying to understand everything that went into making that person who they are (when he was four the neighborhood stray dog adopted him, the runoff election for class Historian went in her favor, Drew Carey gave her an off-handed piece of advice that honed her improv comedy skills) and attempting to make a highly-subjective qualitative judgement look like a quantitative result. I think a healthier path is to acknowledge the reality of who I am, accept that I cannot change anything in the past, and set goals that help me become the best I can be in the future.

    Also, beware of loaded questions! (Is she prettier than me?) When the person answering a loaded question knows the inquiry is asked with the expectation of a perticular answer for the purposes of boosting the ego, it puts them in a tough situation. The problem is that the real answer isn’t in the words, it’s in the subtext of the answer. If he says “Yes, you’re prettier,” it could mean exactly that, it could mean that no one in the world is as amazing as you, or it could mean that he thinks you aren’t prettier but it would be unkind to say so out loud. How will you ever know the truth? If he says “No, she’s prettier,” it might indicate that for that short, heavily-prepped instant-in-time his subjective opinion is that she’s more appealing (in that case see last paragraph), or it might be as others said a knee-jerk reaction to being asked loaded questions too often. Again, how will you ever know the truth?

  31. ALSO!!
    I thought of this as soon as I saw “calendar girls”, but I couldn’t remember her name, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to find it, BUT THEN I TOTALLY DID.

    Meet Hilda. Calendar girl from 1957 to the early 80’s. (Created by a man, in case you were wondering.
    Makes me so happy.

  32. bittergaymark says:

    Wow. Okay, yeah. This really does seem to be entirely the LWs problem. I mean, people are exposed to beautiful women in the media no matter where they go. I must see hundreds of gorgeous 10s each week without even trying (and obviously, why would I be trying?)

    I’m not sure what the best tactic would be to curb this problem.

    Therapy, I suppose. But I’m not sure that she should really be dating right now as she works on this simply because it has to be enough to drive any guy batty. I mean if a man became angry and bitter at his girlfriend each and every time she just happened to watch a movie with a handsome man in it, you’d all be telling her to run for the hills. (And wisely, I might add.)

    And so, I think she should focus on herself and get herself ready to date. Clearly, she simply isn’t there yet. And I don’t think its fair to subject your significant other to any of this irrational tantrums… This is a SERIOUS problem that must be addressed now. So kudos to you, LW, for recognizing this. Now, get to work. And good luck.

    1. Rachelgrace53 says:

      Seconded x 1000.

  33. cookiesandcream says:

    At the risk of getting flamed, when I read the letter I actually thought that the LW seemed pretty normal. Her insecurities about her looks began when she was 13, which is probably when puberty was in full swing for her. It’s extremely common for young girls to have a dramatic decline in self-esteem when they begin puberty and then continue to have low self-esteem throughout their entire lives. LW, you are most definitely NOT alone in your feelings. I literally don’t know a single female who can honestly say that she is 100% comfortable about her looks and the way her body is. I mean, if you ask a group of women which of their body parts they like the most, they are most likely to answer “their eyes” or “their hair” which are incapable of gaining weight. Very few women would answer that they love their butts, thighs, breasts or stomachs, and if they did, you can pretty much guarantee some harshness will be coming her way.

    As for the LW’s feelings about constantly seeing images of “perfect women” and feeling inadequate, those feelings are also extremely normal. Society teaches women from day one to compete with one another, especially with their looks, which is something the media highlights. While I agree with Wendy about what the LW has to offer to her boyfriend, it’s important to acknowledge that characters in movies and calendars offer a fantasy world. The LW is basically saying that she can’t compete with fantasy, which, on some level, is true because those fantasies are products of hours of discussion, makeup, costuming, and intricate placing of cameras. Again, I don’t know too many people who don’t try to achieve some of the fantasy and then feel down about themselves when they realize they can’t be someone who they see on TV. Why else would the industries of plastic surgery, cosmetics, clothing, dieting and media be worth billions upon billions of dollars?

    As for the LW’s feelings about her boyfriend seeing sexy women, some women have stronger boundaries about what they feel comfortable with their significant others seeing. If the LW does not feel comfortable with her boyfriend seeing strippers and naked women on a regular basis, then she’s entitled to have her feelings validated. Does she have the right to stop her boyfriend from watching whatever he wants? No, but she can certainly discuss her boundaries with her boyfriend and be realistic about her limits.

    My main concern for the LW comes from the way her feelings and insecurities consume her life. I would definitely agree with the other comments about getting therapy and learning to embrace her body. I also think that the LW should consider taking a break from her relationship in order to feel more comfortable about herself, since being around her boyfriend seems to exacerbate her low self-esteem. Also, females are constantly being encouraged to gain self-esteem through their looks, so I’d definitely recommend that the LW pursue hobbies that have nothing to do with what she looks like.

    LW, I hope you learn to stop comparing yourself to other women and embrace yourself! I’m sending many good thoughts your way, LW!

    1. John Rohan says:

      I think you are reaching quite a bit. I suppose it’s “normal” for a woman to not want her SO to watch strippers, but to get angry when a stripper pops up in a movie they are watching, or freak out when he visits his father who has a girl calendar on the wall? Is that normal?

      She is entitled to these “boundaries” if that’s what she really wants, but if she keeps them, then I predict a long, lonely life for her.

      1. cookiesandcream says:

        I don’t understand why you think I’m reaching. I didn’t say it was normal; what I did say was that women have different sets of comfort levels when it comes to their boyfriends watching strippers. I also said that she doesn’t have the right to dictate what her boyfriend sees and that while she’s entitled to set her own boundaries, she should be realistic about them. Also, it’s impossible to define what’s normal because everyone has different life experiences. That’s why no one can say whether it’s normal that she gets angry when her boyfriend sees a stripper in a movie and sees a pin-up calendar. All you have is her reaction and how it affects her life.

        I’m glad that we agree that she’s entitled to her boundaries, but I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say that she can find someone who’s willing to respect her limits and agree that sex is something that’s supposed to be the “kind of thing [that] is meant for the bedroom between two lovers.”

      2. bittergaymark says:

        Whoa! None of the numerous women I have befriended over the decades with have ever even been close to THIS insecure. It is so beyond NOT normal. If you really don’t think the LW’s irrational thoughts highly unusual, then seriously, you may want to look into a bit of counseling yourself as none of her thoughts here are normal or healthy. They are very destructive to both herself and her relationships. She needs to get a handle on them asap. To even suggest that they are normal is a seriously dangerous statement because it could stop her from getting the help she needs.

      3. cookiesandcream says:

        I said in my first comment that I was concerned at how much her insecurities are consuming her life, so I definitely agree with you that her situation is not normal. I completely agree with you that they are being destructive and she needs a professional in overcoming her problems.

        I didn’t mean to suggest that her situation was normal, and I guess it was sloppy writing on my part. Like I said when I responded to another commenter about this, the reason why I wrote the first two paragraphs is because I didn’t want to make the LW feel like she was alone. She said in the last paragraph that she “feels so lost,” so that’s why I wrote that. What I was trying to do was help her grasp why she feels the way she does and that there are other women out there who are struggling with those same issues (not to the same extent that the LW does, necessarily).

        I did not mean in any shape or form to suggest that her feelings are normal, and I should have made that more clear. I also did not mean to prevent her from getting help because that’s not my intention.

      4. bittergaymark says:

        Ah, I misread that then. Sorry. 🙂

      5. cookiesandcream says:

        haha, no it’s okay; I reread my comment and I definitely could have edited it more and made my point clearer.

      6. Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich says:

        The problem is that she’s not just setting boundaries on who participates in their sex life, she’s setting boundaries on HIS INNER fantasy life. That’s just unreasonable, it’s just not going to work. People look. Men and women. Fantasy is an important aspect of a person’s sexual identity, and pretending that when you date someone you suddenly get to control or shut off their fantasy life is ridiculous. And it sounds like a 13-year-old. I feel bad for the LW, because it must be very painful being threatened by her boyfriend’s fantasy life, but she does need to work to get over it. It’s not unreasonable to ask someone to make a monogamous commitment. But it is unrealistic to ask someone to keep THEIR THOUGHTS monogamous. You don’t own that when you date someone.

        I hope that the LW can begin to see how she’s probably so much more valuable to her boyfriend as a living, loving, breathing human being than the images that her boyfriend sees. I hope that she can come to appreciate herself enough not to be threatened by the idea that her boyfriend sees other women as attractive, but still comes home to her.

      7. cookiesandcream says:

        I wasn’t trying to suggest that the LW set boundaries on her boyfriend’s fantasy life and that she demand that her boyfriend keep his thoughts monogamous. I was referring to her statement about sex being just for two lovers to keep in the bedroom. If she’s particularly conservative with her views on sex and doesn’t want to be exposed to sexually charged images, then she is entitled to her feelings (and she should also be realistic about her limits). I know that she’s not the only one who would rather keep sex strictly in the bedroom and between two lovers.

      8. Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich says:

        I see what you are saying. I guess I still believe that the kind of compartmentalization of sexuality that comes across in the LW’s description is really worrisome to me. I mean, obviously, she is setting herself up for constant disappointment.

        Really, it’s the compartmentalization: you can’t expect your partner to turn on their sexuality for you, and turn off their sexuality for everyone else like you can a light-switch. To a point, when you make a monogamous commitment, you are keeping sex between two people, and probably mostly in the bedroom. But only up to a point. There’s still some sexual energy that each person in the dyad will have that extends either outwards to other people, or inwards with themselves. You fulfill that monogamous commitment by not acting on it, not by never feeling anything.

        So I think I was a little hung up on her language than yours.

    2. i feel really bad for anyone who would describe the LW’s thoughts as ‘normal’. Note she is not jealous about success, intelligence, sense of humor, kindness, worldliness, or anything. JUST LOOKS. She actually believes that all she or any person has to offer another person is their physical appearance. This is totally disgusting. Sure, everyone wishes they could look better. But usually people wish they were more patient, more intelligent, more successful too. Not this LW. All she cares about, and thus all she thinks her boyfriend or anyone cares about, is how people look. Not normal (thank god)

      1. cookiesandcream says:

        The reason why I wrote the first two paragraphs is because I think what some (not all) of the comments missed is the impact society has on women and their relationships with their bodies. I guess I should have chosen a different word than “normal” because what I meant to convey is the sense that many women feel the same way that the LW does, and I didn’t want to make her feel like she was alone or that her issues were solely her fault. Plus, her feelings began when she was 13, so she’s been living with this for almost half of her life. That leads me to believe that she doesn’t really have many positive role models in her life, and I felt concerned about how much these insecurities have affected her.

        I feel like you were being too harsh on the LW because she clearly states in her letter that she knows that it’s unhealthy and needs help. Calling her behavior disgusting and saying “thank god” this isn’t normal won’t help her gain self-esteem. Her obsessiveness with looks is definitely worrisome, but I didn’t want her to feel like she was being brought down. I’m not trying to attack you, but letters like these really strike a chord with me. I know *exactly* what it feels like to hate yourself based on what you look like. Reading this letter just reminded me when I was growing up and how much I hated myself for being so ugly and worthless. It doesn’t make me shallow or ignore the other things that I, and other people, have to offer to the world, but when you feel like that you can really feel alone and unwanted by everyone.

      2. You are right, my reply was too harsh. The LW is obviously in a really delicate state, and I’m sure calling her mindset disgusting won’t help.

        It’s hard to say which came first- the superficial/shallowness or the insecurity. I would say it was probably the superficalness. After all, if you don’t value the personalities/achievements/insides of people, and only value the outside… i mean that’s a losing battle every time.

        Personally I don’t think telling the LW- “oh you’re probably pretty too!” will help matters. I think what is wrong is a deep-seated value system. The LW needs to realize humans are individuals with *much* more to offer than their outer appearance. I completely agree with the commentators who suggest she has a personality disorder, or has been abused, or something, because I don’t think this type of mindset just develops from watching too much tv or a critical mother.

        But anyway, what I’m saying is that its not her “low self esteem” that is the problem, but the fact that she only values her appearance and the appearances of others. Once she learns to value things besides looks I believe her confidence would naturally go up.

    3. Betty Boop says:

      This level of insecurity is Absolutely. Not. Healthy. I understand your point that self esteem issues are normal, I agree it really is, but to define yourself so negatively because of the mere idea that the person you are with may, possibly, look at another human being on film and find them appealing is not okay. This is not a problem with her boyfriend, her relationship or her future relationship(s), it is an issue she has with herself and to allow it to fester will encourage further extremes of self abuse that could go horribly wrong. It’s also not fair to her current boyfriend to punish him for simply being in the same room with a picture of a good looking woman.

      1. cookiesandcream says:

        I absolutely agree with you about the unhealthy aspect of her insecurity. I was concerned by her obsession with comparing herself to other women and thought that therapy would definitely help her overcome her unhealthy relationship with her body.

  34. I agree that this LW should get some professional help for her self-esteem issues. I have been there. She is a prisoner of her own insecurities and she will need help to get out from under them. However, I think the boyfriend is getting off too lightly, here. Some people have suggested that perhaps he responded to her question the way he did because he felt badgered or exasperated. Maybe so. But I am bothered by the LW saying he seemed more attracted to her when she lost so much weight that she was unhealthy. Who is attracted to an unhealthy-looking person? What kind of person would encourage someone to make themselves unhealthy? I really think she should lose his weight and focus on making herself happy with herself. That is a gift you can give yourself that will never lose its luster.

    1. She said “seemed” – which if she does have body image issues she may have thought “this is what he wants, look how much happier he is”. You may be right, but I don’t think that is the case here.

      1. I made a comment earlier… but I agree that I don’t necessarily believe the boyfriend responded positively directly because she lost weight. Her perception of his reaction could be, as Budj said, because she projected her own “look how happy he is now that I’m thinner” thoughts… or, possibly because he responded positively to her increased confidence from losing weight.

        I think the LW needs to learn how to build up that confidence without feeling the need to lose weight/change her appearance, and I think she may see or feel the same or greater positive results in a much healthier way than she would by losing weight/changing her appearance.

  35. Man, your boyfriend must be really in live with you if he puts up with all that. Beauty is nothing without confidence anyway, confidence is what matters, just give it a try! Good looking people can have their own body issues as well, because nobody is perfect, and there is always someone prettier or skinnier than you and so on. Constantly thinking like that is very unhealthy, instead think of it as a normal thing. For example, there are many guys that are cuter, much better looking than your boyfriend and that’s a fact, but you have picked him and he has picked you hasn’t he? And that is a fact too. He obviously likes you. Next time you see your guy look at a poster, just be like: oh, she really is pretty! Smile and enjoy the moment with your boyfriend, instead of ruining them with silly things like that. You are doing it to yourself, quit being so harsh on yourself!

    1. I meant: your boyfriend must be really in LOVE with you 😀

  36. Addie Pray says:

    “They can’t smile at him with a slight overbite that makes his heart go all aflutter every time he sees it.”

    This was my favorite part. And it makes me long for someone to love my slight overbite. Sigh.

    1. Trust me, somebody does.
      You just don’t know it yet.

  37. LW, this is what I do when i am feeling not so good about myself. when i see other beautiful women or when my boyfriend sees them. i just remember all the things that we DO together. i think of all the things wendy said- the things we have done, experienced, fought through, gotten over, cried about, jumped with joy for… all those things. those are the things that really matter- they are the things you remember in life, the things you will value for the rest of your life.

    i wish i had better fashion sense. i wish that i didnt just wear tshirts all the time and i understood how to make clothes look good together and how to wear them. i am actually fine with my body (i guess, lol)- i just dont know what to do with it! all the time i see these women- all kinds of body types- who dress so well. they look so good! and i just wish that i could be that and i wish that my boyfriend could have a girl like that on his arm. but, then i remember all those things that REALLY matter. i remember that it doesnt matter what I wore, what mattered is what happened and the things that I experienced. that is how i deal with my insecurities. i dont know how you should deal with yours, but i definitely echo everyone else who says that you need to get some kind of help. your letter seems way too heavily charged to be dealt with any other way.

    1. also, i dont know if this would be a good or a bad thing for you to do… but have you thought of actually becoming one of those calandar girls? like doing a burlesque photo shoot or something?

      also, i think you need to watch the TV series how to look good naked with carson cresley. that was an absolutely eye opening show for me. i have no idea where to find it, but i loved that show.

      1. Painted_lady says:

        I LOVED that show. Wish it had run longer! Carson Kressley is like Glinda the Good Witch with better clothes.

      2. thank you for spelling his name right. i took a total shot in the dark lol

        i seriously loved that show. i was so so so mad it was canceled!! and it just made me even more mad because i was like, this is what the media wants. they dont want a show to make real women feel good about themselves. they just want more shows to make us try to look like the girls in the shows…. dumb.

        ok, i just thought of this. if the LW did in fact do a burlesque photo shoot, she would effectively doing what how to look good naked did. they made their ladies face their fears about their bodies and showed them how unfounded they actually are. so i now think that is a good idea for the LW. LW, go have someone do an awesomely sexy (and tasteful!!) on you!

      3. It’s still running in Canada! Our version, but just as awesome. You could probably find it online somewhere.

  38. Painted_lady says:

    Two quick things to add to everyone else’s fantastic insights:

    LW, who are you, exactly? Not what you look like, but who are you? What do you love about yourself? And not in terms of your probably-decent-but-possibly-a-douche boyfriend? If you’ve been obsessing for 11 years about your looks to this extent, you may not have had the chance to develop other aspects of yourself. A lot of people suggested picking up an activity like swimming or bellydancing or rock climbing, and definitely do that, but also use that and all of this energy you spend tearing yourself and your boyfriend down over your insurmountable imperfections to focus on who you want to be. A few years back, I made a New Year’s resolution to quit living safely – not to make unsafe decisions, but to step out of my comfort zone. At the end of the year I wanted to look back and say that, when confronted with a new adventure, “Yes” would be my default answer. By the end of the year, I’d had my first one-night stand, my first tattoo, tried pot for the first time, walked across a stage in nothing but a bikini, dyed my hair green and black, then platinum blonde, and aggressively pursued two theatre gigs I really, really wanted and got both. I had the time of my life, so I haven’t stopped since. My comfort zone was being the funny, acerbic girl snarking on the sidelines. It was easy for me to do that, so instead I became the girl who gets off her ass and does what she wants. Your safety zone is being the girl who’s terrified she’s not enough. Just like my sarcasm and disillusionment didn’t make me any better than the people actually out living life, your obsession over your looks won’t make you any prettier. What is it you’re actually trying to control? What is it you’re afraid will happen if you stop feeding your own demons? That, I think, may bring you closer to the root of the problem. Your fear isn’t protecting you; it’s a prison.

    Second point: I am not physically perfect. I have a chin that disappears into my neck if I hold my head at certain angles. But it’s an exact copy of my dad’s chin, so I can live with that because I like seeing my dad when I look in the mirror. I have several scars on my forehead from running into things because I’m really clumsy. But I think the stories where I’ve run into stuff are hilarious. I have kind of a weird nose, but it’s actually a carbon copy of my grandmother’s, and I miss her a lot, so having that piece of her is wonderful. My thighs are big from years of riding horses, and I wouldn’t give up those memories just to look a little cuter in short dresses. Find spaces where who you are and what you look like intersect in the best of ways. Those things make you, you. I’m 29 and I have crow’s feet, but it’s because I smile with my whole face, and I have a life where I can smile all the time. And when I smile, I look like my mom, which is wonderful. What great stories does your body tell, LW?

    1. i love everything that you just said. wow.

  39. Oh sweetie, please get help. The girls on the calendar are fantasies. They don’t look like that in real life. Everyone gets older . Looks go away. I have never been conventionally pretty. Hell- I look like a dude. Yet -at 56 I rock. My hubby thinks I’m hot – scars & all. He is hot too- even after a 50 lbs weight gain over the years. My beautiful daughter looks like Adele- yet she struggles with body issues & she is only 14. Please please get help. I know it hurts- my heart ❤️ is with you. You deserve better.

  40. As someone with body dysmorphic disorder, this young girl definitely sounds like she also has it. As for the behaviour and thoughts and insecurity. I’ve been there. I couldn’t even watch music videos with my boyfriend, if a half naked women would pop up I’d immediately have a panic attack. I’m aware it isn’t normal, or healthy, but it’s fuelled by a mental illness. And it is a really complex one with quite little research or awareness. As for some pretty insensitive comments.. Encouraging her to get help is the way forward. Not shaming her more. Trust me, her view on herself is already rock bottom. Be kind and supportive, or maybe don’t comment at all. Bdd is a living hell, not a choice. Her behaviour may possibly be toxic to the relationship, but she is, like I felt, unable to grasp it or deal with it. She has been brave enough to be honest about her own behaviour and personal thoughts. Saying that, I strongly encourage getting help, I didn’t and it got worse and worse. I was projecting my issues onto my relationship and it wasn’t ever his fault. It was mine., sadly I didn’t choose to react the way I did to imagery. I’m still working on it. This disorder needs therapy and support, and sometimes meds. Thinking of you.

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