It used to be said that inside of every fat female there’s a skinny woman screaming to get out. Then, as times changed, the perspective shifted and it became “inside every fat woman there’s a thin man dying to get in.” Especially, if the woman is better educated than her peers.
Annie Karnie, writing in the New York Post, in an article headlined, “Money Trumps Weight”, says that a Columbia University researcher, Pierre-Andre Chiappori, has created a mathematical formula to calculate the exact trade-off between billfold and belt-size both men and women make in choosing their partner.
Chiappori found that single people looking to get married, rate each other’s eligibility by assessing two traits: physical and socioeconomic attractiveness. Both men and women prefer slim, wealthy spouses to poor, fat mates, according to data collected from 667 white American couples by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.
But fatter men and women don’t have to settle for less desirable partners. According to Chiappori’s formula, men compensate for flab with cold, hard cash, while women make up for an extra layer of pudge with an extra year of education. A hefty woman can make up for her less-than-perfect body by being more educated. If a single woman who is 5-foot-8 and weighs 140 pounds gains seven pounds, she must have one year more of education to remain at the same level of attractiveness to potential suitors.
The option for women is to decide whether it is easier and cheaper to lose seven pounds than to spend an extra year at University. Whatever option women choose, it is expensive and stressful. Men have it easier. Hot women don’t mind overweight men as long as their wallets are fat. The example cited is that though Donald Trump is “doughy” he has been able to attract really gorgeous women like his present wife, Melania.
There is a double whammy for overweight women because the workplace punishes them. New research by University of Floriday psychologist, Dr. Timothy Judge, quoted in the Queensland Sunday Mail, shows that any weight-gain by women has a detrimental effect on earnings. Dr. Judge found that a woman who is average weight earned around $380,000 less across a 25-year career than a woman who was 10kg below average.
“The results suggest society rewards women who conform to the improbably thin female standard,” Dr Judge said. In fact, a woman who begins her career with a slim physique but gradually puts on 10kg can expect to earn up to $15,000 a year less than if she had kept the weight off, researchers say. Women who were larger to begin with and gained more weight suffered a loss of earnings, but the discrepancy was much smaller than for those who started out slim.
Men don’t have to worry. While women earn a lot more during their career if they manage to stay super-thin, for men the opposite is true. A bigger belly leads to a bigger bank balance. A thin man who gradually acquires a few extra kilos is likely to see his salary rise by about $8000 a year. The Sunday Mail cites research which has found that the differences were due to the subconscious judgments employers make about men and women according to their shape and size.
“Well-proportioned” men are judged to be friendly, polite, happy, smart and brave. Thin men, on the other hand, are seen as sneaky, sad, weak and sick, while obese males are perceived as dirty, lonely, stupid and lazy. The trick then is for men to be fat but not obese enough to show up on the radar or leave footprints on concrete.
Being fat, whether you’re male or female, can be embarrassing. The rather broad lady showed up at the theatre just before the performance started and handed the usher two tickets. “Where’s the other party?” asked the usher. “Well,” said the lady, with a blush, “you see one seat is a little small for me and rather uncomfortable so I bought two. But they’re both really for me.”
“Okay with me, lady,” the usher replied, scratching his head. “There’s just one problem. Your seats are numbers fifty-one and sixty-three.”
It’s not just women who are literally the butt of jokes. US President William Howard Taft (1909 – 1913) weighed over 300 pounds. One of the Supreme Court Justices remarked, “Taft is the politest man in Washington. The other day he gave up his seat in a street-car to three ladies.”
So what about love and marriage for fat people? Are there really thin men dying to get in to see their transcripts or fat men waving their wallets saying, “Look me! Look me!”? The perfect couple had to be Jack Sprat and his wife. They did not need any kind of compatibility testing to make the ideal match. Given normal metabolism and the fact that Jack ate only lean and his wife consumed only fat, they would have been physical opposites. Yet, the only problem, given their appetites, would be that the dog would starve and the cockroaches would pack their suitcases and leave.
For those who don’t fancy compatibility testing in a restaurant seeing whether the steak would be completely eaten or whether fat only or lean only would be left, there is DNA testing.
It has replaced the T-Shirt test which was based on smelling the dirty laundry of prospective partners and ranking them in order of attractiveness. Scientists in Switzerland concluded that we’re more likely to favour the smell of partners with dissimilar immune systems from our own, so our offspring have a broader range of immunity.
DNA testing costs about US$250 per test and promises “a successful relationship, a more satisfying sex life and higher fertility rates”. It is a little bit early to tell whether a DNA match would last. In fact, it most likely means that instead of a woman catching hell once, she might end up with he-lix doubled.
*Tony Deyal was last seen saying that his increasing weight is a good sign that while he is a financial underachiever he is a nutritional overachiever.
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I have been doing columns since 1988. I have been a major columnist with the Catholic Standard, Stabroek News, Kaieteur... more