Five Femail writers describe their own wars over the weighing scales

Should you ever lose weight just to keep your man? As Alice Evans says Ioan Gruffudd vowed to leave her if she gained weight, five top Femail writers describe their own wars over the weighing scales

  • Alice Evans claims Ioan Gruffudd threatened to leave her if she gained weight
  • Here, UK-based writers reflect on how weight has affected their relationships
  • Daisy Buchanan was embarrassed to admit to dieting because of her boyfriend 
  • Katie Glass, 40, says her ex’s comments started as backhanded compliments

The comments started after Christmas one year — on a grey day in January, when I always feel fat, and flat. We were watching TV and I was unwrapping a leftover Quality Street.

My boyfriend Tim looked at the chocolate, then at me. ‘You should be careful,’ he said, poking me. ‘You don’t want to get podgy.’

As he’d known me since we were children, I thought we’d talked about my anorexia. Maybe he didn’t realise how ill I’d been.

‘Ha, ha, very funny,’ I replied, trying to make light of it. ‘Seriously, though, please don’t make that sort of comment. It’s the sort of thing that makes me think about starving myself again.’

Alice Evans claims Ioan Gruffudd (pictured) threatened to leave her if she gained weight during their marriage

Tim looked at my midriff, meaningfully. ‘Yeah, well. You don’t want to go too far the other way, either.’

The comments continued and got worse after that. So it was with agonised recognition that I read actress Alice Evans’s account of her marriage to Liar star Ioan Gruffudd, and how she says he’d threatened to leave her if she gained weight. Alice, who has been criticised for her outbursts about their relationship on social media, said: ‘He told me several times over the years that he couldn’t abide fatties.’

If any of my friends went through this experience with their partners, I’d be screaming: ‘Leave them now!’ But I have, of course, been that confused, broken woman, and I know that the people who really loved me didn’t know how to help.

Occasionally, someone would express concern about the fact I was always on a diet. I was embarrassed to admit I was doing it for Tim.

Even our mutual friends told me he was damaged, and was clearly making me unhappy. But at the time, I only heard: ‘You’re not good enough.’

You see, Tim was tall, good-looking and sporty — he played a lot of tennis and rugby so I had never imagined he would fancy me. Yet, at 24, when I was feeling raw after a bad break-up, we shared our first kiss. He showered me with compliments and I fell for him.

‘You’re beautiful, I can’t believe you’re with me,’ he’d say. ‘You look incredible,’ he’d beam, as I was getting ready to go out for the evening.

I’d always felt insecure about my looks and my body. But Tim told me I could be sure of him. ‘You’re perfect,’ he’d say. ‘I can’t imagine being with anyone else.’

Alice (pictured) who has been criticised for her social media outbursts about her relationship with Ioan, said: ‘He told me several times over the years that he couldn’t abide fatties.’

So after six months, I started to relax and breathe out, figuratively and literally. Tim didn’t like it. Cue the ‘podgy’ chat. And the negative comments did not stop there. Tim liked to criticise what I wore, my job and my friends.

Looking back, I suspect the problem was Tim himself. He was cruel because he was chronically insecure. He didn’t enjoy his work, yet I loved my job as a journalist, I was good at it — and I cared about it.

So when he focused on looks, I think he was feeling threatened by a partner who had a purpose beyond being pretty.

We could be walking to a party, talking normally, and he’d pick a fight. ‘Why are you always like this?’ he’d shout, storming off while I stood on the pavement and sobbed.

I began to think Tim was right. I was fat and no one else would want me. I binge-ate and drank to numb the pain. When he dumped me, I begged him to stay, even though breaking up was the best thing he ever did for me.

After six months, I started to feel like myself again. But then Tim wanted to get back together. He again showered me with compliments. ‘You’re beautiful. I can’t live without you.’

But, when I agreed, he came up with terms and conditions. ‘If — if — we get back together, I need to know you’re going to work on your body and make an effort to get . . .’ he looked me up and down, ‘healthy.’

Daisy Buchanan (pictured) said she begged Tim to say when he dumped her, although  breaking up was the best thing he ever did for her 

I felt my spirit sink. Finally, I realised I had to go on a Tim diet. For a month, I didn’t see him, speak to him, or look at his social media accounts.

At times, my heartbreak felt impossible to handle, but it was the healthiest decision I’ve made

After Tim, I embarked upon a series of disastrous flings. But as my 27th birthday was approaching, I made a promise to myself. ‘I’m going to stop selling myself short. No matter how long it takes, I’m not going to date anyone unless I can be sure they’re decent and kind. Even if it means waiting years. It will be worth it.’

I met my husband, Dale, the day after my birthday, and for the first year of our relationship, I wondered if the critical comments would start. But he’s only ever been loving.

More importantly, he never makes me feel as though my only function is to look good on his arm. He doesn’t just compliment me — he makes me feel our marriage is a collaboration, and that he wants me to be confident about every aspect of life, not just my body.

Perhaps ironically, I’ve never looked or felt better — now that I feel happy and secure.

So Tim was wrong, I never needed to lose weight. All I needed to be healthy was to lose him.

I WAS TAUNTED BY MY FAT PARTNER

Katie Glass, 40, is single and lives near Midsomer Norton, Somerset.

Katie Glass, 40, (pictured), who lives near Midsomer Norton, Somerset, said her ex’s comments about her weight started as backhanded compliments 

Unlike Alice Evans, I have never been slim. In fact, I’ve never been especially interested in my image. I rarely wear make-up and pride myself on having more than my looks.

So I was caught off-guard to find myself in a relationship with someone who obsessed over my weight. And who, although I wasn’t thin when I met him, berated me about being fat.

My ex’s comments started as backhanded compliments — when I lost weight, he’d praise how much better I looked.

Who wouldn’t like that! Even though it was frustrating when he began policing what I ate — making ‘jokes’ if he saw me eating carbs — I brushed it off.

Over time, his negativity escalated. Soon comments about my size became a weapon. He’d compare me to other women and would say he was only attracted to me when I was slim.

I listened. I wanted to look good for him. When he was kind, he’d encourage me to get fit. We embarked on exercise regimens and diets together. But while he’d fall off the wagon — drinking alcohol or ordering pizza — he’d put me down if I did.

Although overweight himself, the way he saw it, I was the problem. Soon, how I looked became his go-to reply for any issue in our relationship. He didn’t do any housework? I was too fat. He was shouting at me? I was too fat. He was drinking too much? I was too fat.

He used the scales to justify going behind my back to try to meet other women. But when I stood up to him — telling him my worth wasn’t based solely on how I looked — he said I was arrogant. His constant pressure had a terrible impact on my health, as I embarked on fad diets and then, because I was so miserable, comfort-ate. I never felt good enough.

Like a lot of bullies, my ex hid his cruelty with concern. Weight, in particular, is easy to criticise while claiming you care. My ex would say he commented on my weight because he worried about my health. But if that were true, I think he’d have chosen his words more lovingly, rather than shouting at me that I was a ‘fat wh***’ when he was angry.

In the end, his cruelty about my weight was partly why I ended it. Not because I minded losing weight, which I did when I left him, but because I realised that when you love someone, you don’t make them feel horrendous.

HE SAYS HE’LL LEAVE IF I GAIN WEIGHT

Samantha Brick, 50, is married to carpenter Pascal, 60 . They live in Monpazier, South-West France.

Samantha Brick, 50, said her husband Pascal, 60 (pictured) made it clear that he fell in love with her because of her appearance and was honest about refusing to remain hitched to a fat wife

Most afternoons, my husband brings me a cup of herbal tea. Nine times out of ten, he will choose the diet brand (it’s a French mint infusion which is supposed to detoxify the system). Of course. I roll my eyes, but I’m accustomed to it. When we got together in 2007, he made it clear that he fell in love with me because of my appearance. He was honest about refusing to remain hitched to a fat wife.

And, actually, I have embraced this caveat to our marriage. That’s why every morning, I hop onto the scales to check those digits are still being kind to me. Most mornings they are, but if they aren’t, I’ll skip breakfast for a day or two.

While I’m #TeamAlice when it comes to Ioan Gruffudd’s alleged extra-marital behaviour, I don’t see anything wrong in the idea of someone saying they’d be off if their partner gained weight. I know my British friends think I’m setting the feminist movement back. But this approach works for me.

I view Pascal as my own food coach and personal trainer rolled into one. He times me when I go for my hike at dawn, offering encouraging words of motivation, such as ‘go faster’ or ‘move quickly’ when I’m almost home. In the kitchen, he is happy to cook my favourite steamed veggies for me.

At 50, I like the fact I can still slip into the same pair of jeans from decades ago. I happily boast about not gaining any peri-menopause pounds either. There was a blip when we were trying to start a family and I underwent fertility treatment. It wasn’t a success, and I struggled to lose the weight I put on from the hormones. At the time, Pascal was extra strict, watching how much oil I’d put onto my salad; one lunchtime, we had a row over if I’d used two or three tablespoons.

His attitude may sound despotic, but it’s pretty much the norm in South-West France. I’ve been out with French girlfriends who routinely check the size of one another’s clothes to ensure they aren’t fibbing about their dress size.

My husband has inherited this ‘fat-ist’ attitude from his mum. I adore my mother-in-law. She’s 80, and in her dressing room there is an exercise bike she uses daily. Her philosophy is: if you’re overweight then you are unhappy.

In French society, everyone compliments (or commiserates) each other’s figure. That’s why I see my husband’s perspective as a gift.

I WISH HE’D STOP MY MIDDLE-AGE SPREAD

Ursula Hirschkorn , 50, lives in North London with her husband Mike, 46, a head of e-commerce and her four sons, aged 12 to 18.

Ursula Hirschkorn, 50 (pictured), who has struggled with her weight for her entire adult life, said her husband never criticises her weight 

When it comes to will-power, I was short-changed. I can’t say no to a second helping, a decadent dessert or one more slice of cake. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire adult life and can now only just squeeze into a size 18.

It doesn’t help that my husband, Mike, never criticises my weight or suggests I do something about it.

By contrast, last week Alice Evans claimed Ioan Gruffudd threatened to leave if she put on weight. While I would never condone such treatment, it did make me wonder if it would be better for me if my other half were stricter. If he were to give me a nudge in the ribs every time I reached for the chocolate, or cancel our weekly takeaway, might it help me shift the pounds?

Of course, I’d hate to be married to someone who threatened to leave, but perhaps my husband is too kind. Instead of his legendary spaghetti bolognese, should he be serving me a dose of reality about my weight and health?

Although perhaps he keeps his mouth shut because he knows the truth may hurt me.

Years ago — during a row — he said he didn’t fancy me as much because I was fat.

He later said he didn’t mean it, but my reaction taught him silence on my weight was best.

But as I contemplate my middle-aged spread, I wonder if marriage to a fitness fanatic who kept an eye on my size would have been better. Should I have opted for a man who, rather than bringing me a biscuit, would expect me to partner him on his Ironman training?

Unfortunately (for my waistline at least), I am stuck with a man who loves me too much to wade in or boss me about. I suppose that means it’s down to me to take responsibility for losing my flab.

A MAN WHO INSISTS YOU HAVE A WEEKLY WEIGH-IN IS ENOUGH TO MAKE ANYONE REACH FOR THE HOBNOBS  

Author Kate Spicer, 52, lives in West London with her boyfriend, 47.

Kate Spicer, 52, (pictured) said men who can’t sustain interest beyond those fertile, slender years are shallow — a waste of a woman’s time

I’ve been trying not to swear so much lately, the goal being to save my verbal armour for when it is truly warranted.

However, if a man ever asked, told or even politely suggested I lose some weight, I’d pepper him with four-letter bullets. I can’t imagine there is any other answer to give.

Alice Evans married Ioan Gruffudd when she was a textbook-beautiful young actress. Now she’s a beautiful 50-year-old woman who no longer fits into sample-sized dresses, he appears to have dumped her for a 29-year-old.

Asking your partner to stay any weight is wrong, but to confine it to the abnormally small size of a starlet is basically saying, I want you to look like a woman in a magazine. For ever.

That person telling you not to get fat is meant to be your ally in the struggle of life. Instead, they are treating you like a car that needs to come out of the body shop looking perfect so their friends can admire it. They want a status symbol.

Women aren’t designed to look like coltish 14-year-olds into their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. And men who can’t sustain interest beyond those fertile, slender years are shallow — a waste of a woman’s time.

I grew up in a family with a fair number of fatphobes and if I erred on the chubby side there would sometimes be the odd comment, a certain awareness you weren’t up to par.

Subsequently, I’ve dated the odd guy who liked and fancied me but would never consider going public with me.

One told me he’d never go out with me ‘properly’ because I wasn’t ‘hot’; another simply started seeing a 25-year-old who wore Herve Leger bandage dresses without really telling me it was over.

So I feel some empathy with what Alice Evans says she is dealing with. It is about pure objectification of a human; of you only having value if you meet certain beauty standards.

So many of us turn to comfort-eating when we are struggling in life. Weight and how we eat is proven to be bound to our mental health, our socio-economic status, lack of sleep, trauma and depression.

So, gents, perhaps ask: ‘Are you OK?’ rather than insisting on a weekly weigh-in. Living with a man like that is enough to make anyone reach for the Hobnobs.

A man who can’t take those natural fluctuations and love you for who you are deserves both barrels of all the four-letter words. What a ****!

  • Some names have been changed to protect identities.

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