Katie Willcox, the founder of the Healthy Is the New Skinny movement, shares how she learned that being in love has nothing to do with the way you look.
Ladies, we need to stop thinking our worth (and worthiness of love) is defined by our weight. I used to think this way, then I met my husband and learned that love is so much more than that.
I was living in New York but working in L.A. when I first met my husband, Bradford. One of my friends dragged me to a co-worker's house for a Christmas party where I saw him for the first time. My first reaction was, "Oh my gosh he is so handsome," but I immediately looked away because I thought there's no way he'd be interested in a 19-year-old that weighed 200 pounds and was a size 14. I was so insecure and uncomfortable in my skin at the time, which is why I was so shocked when he walked right up to me and started talking.
"I don't mean to be creepy," were the first words he said to me—and usually when someone says that they're probably going to be super creepy so I prepared myself. But he surprised me by saying that I was the most naturally beautiful girl he'd ever seen and that he had to come over and get to know me.
Naturally, I was smitten. After talking to each other for a little bit we found that we had a lot in common. He was from Wyoming and I was from Missouri, we were both drinking Diet Coke because we don't drink—and before I knew it he asked to take me out to dinner the next day. I went and we stayed up all night long talking before I had to leave to go back to New York. We've been together ever since.
It's been 13 years since that day we first met. But every time I talk about that story I'm reminded of how I used to feel about myself. I genuinely felt that I was too big, too out of shape, too unhealthy to be deserving of love—and those were all sentiments I was projecting onto others until Brad made me realize that people don't see me the way I see myself.
Unfortunately, a lot of women feel this same way. They actually believe that they won't find someone unless they lose weight. But by setting that standard for ourselves, we pretty much give men permission to expect that from us as well. (Related: Why This Woman Forgot Her Bikini on a Date to the Beach)
I worked through a lot of those emotions with my husband over the years and fought to find that confidence from within myself rather than searching for it in other people. But it wasn't easy. Brad has always been super fit. He was a fitness model for some time and has been a personal trainer—which was super intimidating considering I was so out of shape. But even though health and fitness have always been such an important part of his life, he never tried to fix me. Instead, he showed me a whole new way of living that had nothing to do with the way you look, and everything to do with the way you feel.
I've been a size 6, size 14, pregnant with a giant belly, back down to where I'm at right now, and everything in between—and my husband really doesn't give a sh*t. I'm the same person he met and fell in love with all those years ago, regardless of my size. As long as I'm healthy and actively taking care of my body, that's what matters most. (Related: Why 'Fit is the New Skinny' Movement Is Till a Problem)
And that's something we don't get to see or hear about in relationships and something I really struggled to embrace. Your significant other is connected to you on an emotional, human, and so many other levels that are so much more important than physical aesthetics. To a huge extent, we can't help the way we look—it's just a part of our DNA. But beauty is both subjective and complex. Being smart, funny, and talented are also incredible gifts, as is your unique shape. But it's up to us to really value those gifts and know that there's someone out there that's looking for the special combination that makes up who you are.