Appearance and Self-Acceptance

by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, Clinical Psychologist and eHarmony Founder

Appearance and Self-Acceptance

Dear Dr. Warren, I consider myself a healthy, attractive woman, but I am also on the heavier side. I assume that a lot of men may be turned off when they see that I do not have a perfect figure. What do you suggest I do?

Dear Dr. Warren,

I consider myself a healthy, attractive woman, but I am also on the heavier side. It has been a long time since I have put myself out there to date, and I find myself extremely self-conscious. I assume that a lot of men (but not all) may be turned off when they see that I do not have a perfect “10″ figure, and I do not want to mislead anyone by not sharing my photo until way in to the communication stages. But at the same time I am afraid that a lot of men will close me out from the beginning. What do you suggest I do? I am a really good person with a lot of love to share.

Thank you,
Caycee in Atlanta, GA

Answer

Dear Caycee,

Thank you for your question. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, as you say, and I want to commend you for taking a look at yourself and what you have to offer as honestly and as objectively as you can. It takes a healthy mindset to be able to do that.

Attraction and appearance are such interesting subjects because on the whole, they are very personal preferences. What is attractive to one person may be unattractive to another. One man may prefer the “perfect 10″ frame as you mentioned, but another may not mind extra curves on a woman whose face and personality he has fallen in love with. I do want to be honest with you, though. Most men (and women) are first attracted to one another visually, and for most chemistry must be there up front from the start.

Chemistry is the sense of physical attraction that draws someone initially toward another. Shared chemistry between two people is mutual attraction. It’s not to say that love can’t happen in which two partners’ attraction for each other develops more slowly, but I believe that a base level of chemistry must be there from the start. Both partners must get enjoyment out of looking at one another. If a match does not feel that from the start, it is probably best that they free you up to consider other options.

However, across the board sex appeal (regardless of body size) and confidence are two of the most attractive qualities that a person can have. To have these qualities, you have to love who you are independent of what other people feel. I am so glad that you mentioned that you consider yourself to be a healthy and attractive woman with a lot of love to share—that’s exactly the right attitude for someone looking for love. Yet, I know how difficult it must be to put yourself out there and be closed by matches that perhaps you yourself thought looked and sounded pretty interesting. You may begin to doubt yourself and wonder if you’ve “still got it” and are worthy of finding someone else.

In that very moment, I want you to ask yourself the question “Why?” List the reason(s) that you believe makes you less worthy than other people to find love, and you’ll have insight into the area(s) in your life that offer the greatest potential for positive change; these are the beliefs you have that cause you to devalue yourself.

Let those specific negative thoughts about yourself serve as signals to you that you need to do some work on those areas. If these areas that cause you doubt about yourself can be changed, and after some soul searching are things that you really want to change, then find out what you need to do to improve yourself, and start down that path. And if they are aspects of you that cannot change, then you must come to peace with them. All in all, you must accept yourself. You appearance is something that you must accept—it’s part of who you are, but you should feel good about it, at any size.

In terms of the Guided Communications process, the best policy is to post your best photos right from the start. Choose photos which show you smiling and that radiate your authentic self. You want to choose ones that make you feel beautiful about yourself. If you don’t feel good about your pictures, take some new ones that do make you feel good—feeling good about your profile is absolutely essential. If you do not feel that your profile puts your best qualities through, how can you expect your matches to see them?

I find that when I’m unsure of something I’ll ask a friend or family member who I trust to give me his or her honest opinion. Ask a friend to take a look at your profile and photos and inquire how they think you could make it better. The answers might surprise you. You can also have a friend or family member take new photos of you, or consider sitting down to a photo session with a local photography studio. Your profile is your chance to shine, so spend some time on it.

Caycee, have the courage to be yourself and put your best image of you forward. For all of the matches who may close you out or not respond, there will be a special group of men who will be excited to communicate with you. It takes some time, but many of our success stories will tell you that it was worth the patience to find someone interested in and attracted to exactly who they are. I wish nothing but this type of experience for you. Let us know how you do.

Sincerely,
Dr. Neil Clark Warren

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