Brittany Gibbons is a model, author and body image advocate – and men are writing to her about their partners. This is what she has to say.
Ladies, your husbands are emailing me. Repeatedly.
You may or may not have any idea this is happening. It’s probably while you’re in the shower, or after you go to bed. Or maybe when you think they’re texting a co-worker on the couch, or in the bathroom on their iPads.
It usually happens late at night, after my husband has fallen asleep beside me and my kids are snoring upstairs. I open my email one last time before dozing off, and I see that Greg’s and Shawn’s and Dave’s fill my inbox. It’s always one of two things.
1. Thank you.
2. Help me help my wife stop hating herself.
Number one is easy. Whether it’s a thank you for helping you feel confident and strong, for getting you to agree to have daily sex with him after he forwarded you some of my posts, or a thank you for helping you find clothes you feel beautiful in at last, nothing makes me happier than saying, “you’re so welcome.”
Number two is way more complicated and emotional. The responses are always sent back between tear clenched eyelids and snotty sweatshirt sleeves. And while the words are always intended to be helpful and meaningful, sometimes it’s hard to face someone and say … I have absolutely no idea. So, I don’t. I suck it up, blow my nose, and in words that are often paused and considered, I tell him these 4 things.
1. Let her hate her body.
Don’t try to pacify her with But you’re beautiful or you’re wrong, let her tell you how much she hates it. We have to carry this shit around every minute of every day with us in our heads. When we order food, when we wash our hands in the bathroom sink, when we look down at a red light and notice our thighs squishing together. Every single second of every day is directly effected by how we feel about our weight.
It’s suffocating and exhausting, and sharing the burden of that with her is a welcome relief. So listen to her, don’t interrupt or shake your head, listen and nod, and when she’s done, resist the urge to shower her with every ounce of beauty you already see in her, and instead, say, “how can I help?”
2. Be prepared to not be able to fix this shit at all.
I held on to teeny tiny jeans from high school in my closet for 14 years, until finally throwing them away a few months ago. They were an entire person smaller than my current size, but I couldn’t let go of that guttural need to maintain the hope that I would one day fit into the stupid pants again, thus making me a better woman. Fourteen years, dude.
It was adorable that Andy thought he could in some way override the longest relationship I’d ever had with unconditional love and commitment. There is no duct tape fix for a woman hating her body.