The obesity epidemic has afflicted men and women equally, but weight gain causes women to lose far more sexual market value than men do. What will happen to dating now that two-thirds of the nation’s women are overweight or obese?
Men Are Judged On Everything—Women Are Judged On One Thing
Weight gain in the population is causing plenty of anguish for all of us, but when it comes to romance, each gender is affected very differently. Men are lucky, or unlucky if you will, in that no single factor determines their overall desirability. Women like tall men, certainly, and they like them handsome, but a nice looking 19-year-old, awkward pizza delivery boy generally has a hard time getting laid.
On the other hand, a plain looking, semi-charming multimillionaire with a yacht likely does pretty well for himself. In a woman’s eyes, a global judgment is made involving height, facial appearance, wealth, ambition, personality, family and social networks, talents (music, art, athletics), and even the opinions of other men and women. The relative weighing of all these factors is fairly even. A very handsome man needs less to get by, but he needs something. A shorter, not so attractive guy with a lot of other things going for him will still do okay.
For women, however, beauty and youth are paramount. Other elements, such as mental health, personality, and intellect do matter, but their relative importance is far less. No level of other attributes can overcome unattractiveness in a woman. A great personality will move a woman up a notch in the dating pool, but only a notch. Yes, some men like “curvy” women, but these women are still quite fit and never is a widely sought-after women going to be fat. With so many overweight women nowadays, thinness has become the single most important beauty standard.
The Disparate Impact Of Being Fat
Although both genders have gained substantial amounts of weight in the past 60 years, the effect on attractiveness and desirability is not the same. A man can be 35 pounds overweight and this might bring him down a notch, but plenty of bigger gentlemen have very desirable wives and girlfriends. Such a man simply has other qualities which make him of value. On a 1 to 10 scale, his 35 pounds drop him from an 8 to a 6 or 7, hardly catastrophic.
But a woman who is 30 pounds overweight, drops from an 8 to a 4. In fact, with so many overweight men, a truly normal-weight man appears too thin to many people. In 1970, the average man weighed around 165 pounds; now the average is 191. If you meet a guy who is around 5’ 10” and 165, he may look skinny. It is instructive to look at male movie stars from the 1950s and earlier. Men like Humphrey Bogart, Laurence Oliver, and Fred Astaire were all quite thin.
One way to view the epidemic is to imagine that an entire generation of young men lost their ambition, that all they wanted to do was to hang out and play video games, that they were perfectly happy in dead-end jobs, making little money, smoking weed, and looking at porn. This is a net negative, analogous to weight gain in women, for men’s dating desirability. In fact, a popular book claims such an epidemic currently exists among young men.
If this epidemic of un-ambitious young men really exists, can it be accounted for by the scarcity of slender, attractive women? Why are young men driven to achieve? Evolutionary biology hypothesizes that males pursue achievement to attract women. But if there are so few desirable women, a young male may conclude that all efforts toward self-improvement and success are futile. With so few thin women, even years of herculean effort will not provide him a reasonable chance to mate with someone highly attractive. So why bother?
Out In Public
In social settings, I am often amazed to see zero or maybe one woman of a truly normal body weight. Average weights have gone up so much that one cannot see “average” as normal. Earlier in the 20th century, the average woman was 5’ 4” and 122 pounds. Now she is 5’ 4” and 144 pounds in some studies and 155 pounds in others. Today, a woman 5’ 4” and 120 pounds is considered skinny, but this is a perfectly healthy and attractive weight. Some Asian women at 5 ‘ 4” are under 100 pounds and healthy. In fact, the current average Chinese woman is 5’ 4” and 125 pounds, suggesting that about half of all Chinese women 5’ 4” tall weigh less than that.
One sees many more ethnically mixed couples these days, with successful, attractive white males matched with Asian females. This change is most likely driven by the obesity epidemic. When a man is considering a long term relationship, including marriage, one of his greatest fears is that his wife will gain weight and become unattractive. Bad eating habits and even a little bit of pudginess in a 28-year-old could translate to a very overweight woman of 40 after the kids are born. The rise in the desirability of Asian women is due to their lower rates of obesity.
Why do men value attractive partners? Well, you might say it is because it is more fun to have sex with a pretty woman. But another, perhaps more important reason, is that the type of woman a man is able to attract is an advertisement, a direct reflection of his worth in society. Watch a reasonably normal-sized man leave a building with his overweight girlfriend or even a platonic friend. He often walks ahead of or behind her. He cringes at the thought that people will see them together and conclude that he is such a loser that this is the “best he can do.” A woman might have a less attractive man, but a $90,000 sports car, a nice suit, a powerful job, any of these things will make up for his big gut. If a woman is fat, nothing can compensate for the problem.
In The Land Of The Fat….
The obesity epidemic has made many women vastly less desirable romantic partners compared to most men. Fatness just doesn’t knock as many points off a man’s sexual market value as it does a woman. “The end of men” may well be a rational response to the scarcity of thin women where some men conclude it is no longer worth the effort to work hard and gain wealth in the hopes of having sex with slender, attractive women.
The repercussions for society are substantial. Although there are many reasons for the decline in marriage rates, one reason is that men don’t want to marry overweight women. They worry enough about a woman gaining weight after the wedding or when kids come along. Imagine starting out with someone overweight? I am often amazed that when I see a wedding, the bride is much more likely to be slender than chance would suggest. The few remaining thin women can easily seek out men who will marry them. The rest are likely to go unmarried or to marry men incapable of earning a living. From a matchmaking perspective, the appropriate fit for an overweight woman is not an overweight man, it is an unemployed one.
Men now focus on body size even more exclusively than they used to. This is because normal-sized or slender women are so rare. In dating settings, you can be a woman with an unattractive face, bad personality, mentally ill, and a substance abuser, but look around — you may be the only normal-sized, non-overweight woman in the room. Every man there wants one thing: a slender woman. You are in the land of the fat, where the one thin girl is queen.