Dear White Men: Stop Telling Me I Should Lose Weight

by Lisa Martens
Scary Mommy and FotoDuets/Getty

This has happened to me so many times that I have a sort of script for it, and it happened again yesterday — On Valentine’s Day.

I’m talking to a white guy who seems nice. Smart. Good-looking. And he seems into me, too.

He tells me I’m funny, and bright, and beautiful. There’s just one thing…sure, I’m pretty, but I would be, like, supermodel hot if I just lost some weight.

He says he hopes I’m not offended. I say no. He’s attracted to what he’s attracted to. I tell him I hope he finds what he’s looking for. I tell him that I once was really thin, and I starved myself, and drank and took pills instead of eating food, and that I love my body now and I’m much healthier now than I was then, so if he values thinness, he should look elsewhere.

This is the part they’re never really prepared for. I think they honestly think they’re trying to do me a favor, or that they’re telling me something I’ve never heard.

Do you think you’re the first person to tell me to lose weight? I have a white mom who used to be a model. Donald Trump hit on her once after a photo shoot. I know about unrealistic body expectations. I know about white man body expectations. You’re not concerned about my health. You just want a woman like a status symbol, something you can parade around that you’ve won.

There’s also the strange idea that white men have that I must have never been thin. Because if I had been, I would have preferred it, and I would have done anything to stay that way. I think they’re genuinely surprised when I tell them that yes, at one point, I had the attention of rich white dudes, of the sexiest white dudes…and it was…pretty meh.

It wasn’t that great. I wasn’t happier. I’m happier now…I’m heavier, healthier, and doing what I want with my life. I’m not as worried about what other people think about me.

Because I am a Latina, I’m supposed to be on the path of this hero’s journey. The white man is supposed to discover me, perfect me, and by virtue of his golden penis, heal all my mental anguish. So the idea that I was once “perfect” for a white dude and chose another life goes completely against the concept that I exist solely for them.

I don’t say all this, because it’s a waste of my breath. I just tell him that it’s okay, and we can just be friends.


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He backpedals. He talks about how great I smell, how lovely I am, how he can talk to me about anything, how he’s never met anyone like me before.

I tell him that’s great! We can still know each other. Just not in a sexual way.

I’m not interested in anyone who doesn’t worship me as I am. How am I supposed to be comfortable in bed with someone who is just thinking how hot I “could be”?

One day, I might weigh less. I might weigh more. But white men who tell me to lose weight need to move out of the way for the men…of all backgrounds…who like me for who I am (the whole package).

Why do I specifically point out white men? Because I only have this issue with white men. Not all white men (ha-ha)…but when it does happen, and it does happen often enough that it’s a pattern I have an internal script for, it’s with white men.

You know what it feels like? It feels like they’re offering me a charity I can’t say no to. That I, as a Latina, have to say yes to dating a white guy, and so it’s okay for them to put terms and conditions on me — terms like having to be literally everything. I have to be thin, funny, and smart…but a white girl just has to be a white girl, and in his mind, we’re somehow on equal footing.

And when I am repulsed by this, and I flat-out reject the “offer” as being grotesque, they know they’ve overplayed their hand. I don’t value their whiteness over my health and self-love. Over being respected, confident in my body, and confident in my ability to be sexy at any size.

And so, like this man did, they backtrack. They try to reclaim my attention. They see the things they’re losing, but a little too late, because now I’ve seen the big red flag.

They can’t pretend it’s for my health, because I’m healthier, and more fit, now than I’ve ever been. I rarely drink alcohol or even coffee. I don’t even smoke weed. I work out every day.

They can’t act like it’s for any reason other than for them. They threaten to leave me for thin white girls, and I’m totally okay with that.

I do not have to account for my non-whiteness or make up for it by losing weight, by being smart, by being funny, by being extra-easygoing, by having no needs of my own.

Who I am, I do for myself…

and that shocks (scares?) them.