love handles

Over wine and polenta, a friend of mine told me a recent Cosmopolitan Magazine article claimed women prefer men with love handles over those without.  "Why?" he asked me.  "I just don’t get it."
"I don’t get why you’re reading Cosmo."
"Well, I’m not.  Mark is.  Ask him to send you the article."

Imperfection in our mate releases the pressure valve.  He’s not perfect, so I don’t need to be either.  She feels less inhibited with a softer body, and she panics when he mentions he wants to diet.  "God, I’m definitely in much worse shape than he is, and he wants to lose weight?  I can only imagine what he must think of me."  God, some women really think this way.  I’ve been "some women" many many times.

I used to get pissed when the Wasband said he wanted to go to the gym.  More pissed if he suggested we go together.  He might as well have grabbed a Sharpie marker and circled my flaws because "let’s go together" was interpreted as, "you could stand to lose some flab there, Missy."  I made it about me, began to cry at the suggestion, and then, he’d stay, setting his Walkman down on the table with his testicles.  I am embarrassed I was that manipulative.  I hate how much I hated myself and took it out on others.  I hate how miserable I was with myself.

When my boyfriend told me he wanted to shave off 10 lbs., I panicked, thinking,"if I’m happy with the way he looks, and he knows it, why would he want to change?  Obviously, he wants attention."  Of course, without a doubt, now I know that’s not the case.  I know it because no matter how secure I am with any man, and no matter how beautiful he says I am on repeat, I still want to fit into the jeans I wore last summer, and it has nothing to do with my want for him.  It has everything to do with my want for myself. 

Men aren’t off the hook.  He sees her in a bar, with her plunging neckline, and he thinks, "now she is hot."  Fast forward to their exclusive relationship months later.  She’s dressed to kill, and he wants to kill her.  "You’re not going to wear that are you?"  She’s wearing the exact outfit she wore when he first met her.  Now that she’s his, he doesn’t want anyone else to want her, unless he’s there beside her.  Even then, he’s not sure he wants men staring at her, despite his feeling lucky. 

Insecurity is our worst abuse.  Women prefer imperfection because it makes us feel safe.  It’s false security, but it does its job at soothing us here and now.  We don’t want more women to notice him, and we don’t want him to want beyond what we do.  But when we turn it inward, we know our desire to become more tone has less to do with him and more to do with our ability to be outgoing, personable, happier when things button without sucking it in.

When my boyfriend broke up with me, at sixteen years old, I phoned him months later to tell him I was thin.  I thought he’d love me again if he knew.  We can’t control who loves us or who will cheat on us if they get extra attention. Love handles more than love handles; it handles washboards, ripped triceps, and plunging necklines.



  1. Stephanie, I totally agree with your statement: "Imperfection in our mate releases the pressure valve. He's not perfect, so I don't need to be either."

    My ex –coincidentally a redhead named Stephanie– used to say that she likes guys to be a little chubby, and that she would be delighted if I gained weight, or sprouted a bit of a belly (maybe if she cooked once in a while, her plan would have worked). I *always* felt that she wanted me to gain weight so she would feel comfortable if SHE gained weight. It wasn't about me, it was about her; and I ain't gettin' fat to boost anyone's self esteem.

    About the outfits: I try not to be a hypocrite in life, so if I met her in a certain outfit, I can't complain when she wears it down the road, when we're together. Well, except for that one stripper…

  2. this just reminds me of my favorite will and grace episode, where will, karen, and gene wilder join the Lonely Hearts club, but karen and gene end up hooking up and will is all alone:
    (to the bartender) "get me some cheese sticks! if i am going to be all alone, i might as well be fat and shiny. they ain't love handles if nobody loves ya!"

  3. Stephanie:

    Four days. This is unacceptable. You don't understand – see, I have been sitting in the corner of my room, quivering, waiting for the next installment. I found you a month ago and have examined all of the archives and now have been left with just the comments. This stuff is e-heroin or cybercrack. Get a life? I HAD a perfectly successful CAREER until you came along. I don't need a life, I need a 12-step program to get me off you. Just no more cold turkey, alright?

  4. Very well said. Kinda making me rethink that my husband I and decided we need to get back to the gym….

  5. I'm a big fan of trying to maximize your potential. Feels like if you encourage someone who is with you to do the same the relationship strengthens because of it.

  6. "Men aren't off the hook. He sees her in a bar, with her plunging neckline, and he thinks, "now she is hot." Fast forward to their exclusive relationship months later. She's dressed to kill, and he wants to kill her. "You're not going to wear that are you?" She's wearing the exact outfit she wore when he first met her. Now that she's his, he doesn't want anyone else to want her, unless he's there beside her. Even then, he's not sure he wants men staring at her, despite his feeling lucky."

    Holy crap. This conversation just happened to me and the guy I am seeing. I just remember thinking to myself, "This is the same g-damn outfit I wore on our first date."

  7. Sometimes a workout has nothing to do with looks. It actually feels good and clears the head. There is evidence that there are health benefits to exercise, with or without weight loss. It's far easier to get into the habit of working out, running, doing martial arts, playing soccer or whatever when you're young, rather than trying to start when you're older.

  8. if wheatley is gonna chime in, i think people should know how great a friend stephanie was to people in school. yes she was a nerd and yes she and i weren't close but i would have loved to have been. since reading the blog, i have contacted her with congratulations and she was earnestly excited to know i read her blog. she remembered my favorite food and things we talked about even i didn't recall. she is truly as sweet, smart and funny as she seems. i wish only that my kids turn into such a success as a writer and a person.

  9. The guy i dated who had the biggest love handles also had the biggest heart!
    Love handles are hot, just not on me, theres nothing worse then dating someone who has a perfect body.
    Stephanie when are we gonna hang out?

  10. Unfortunately the reverse theory dosen't stand true. I never want my wife to gain weight or hit the wall purposly just so I can eat and drink more and grow a gut. My wife being very attractive and having a great body motivates me to stay in decent shape and not destroy my body physically. It also makes me work harder to make sure I'm always attractive to her.

    As for dressing sexy, guys who get made that their girl turns heads are stupid. There is no better complement when I notice men especially men younger than me check out my wife.

  11. These comments raise a good point. How does your boyfriend feel about you sharing all with the world?

  12. Wow!

    I've been reading your blog for about 2 weeks now, and with this 'life observation' you amazed me once again.
    I honestly envy you not only for your talent to formulate your thoughts so clearly and beautifully but also for your courage to share your life with the world (without even using a pseudonym).

    So thank you Stephanie for doing what you do. I regard it as a privilege to read your blog.

  13. I feel so sorry for you. How truly troubled you must be to expose yourself and others in this way. I wish you peace.

  14. Everything about women wanting imperfections in their men is true by my book, and I would say that most normal women would nod their agreement.

    Though, I must say that not all men tell their girlfriends to stop looking sexy after they get the girl, though I think it could be a sign of genuine possessiveness (the good kind?). The guy I dated kept telling me to dress sexier so that he wouldn't be embarrassed in front of his friends, but we all know men like him are assholes.

  15. interesting. when the guy I'm seeing said that he needed to get back to the gym. I took that as him wanting to workout for him. guess it's all in the way you look at it.

    of course maybe he meant it the way you wrote about, in which case his prompting won't be addressed. I do work out, but I do it for myself, not him.

  16. I agree with JoeA. I love when women notice my man, it's such a wonderful compliment to me not just to him. But if he ever told me what to wear, or what not to wear, I would grab him by the nuts and set him straight.

  17. Wheatley Alum- whatever… your comment is not constructive criticism- it is plain and out mean… why do you feel the need to leave such hate-filled garbage in someone's comments- especially when that said person has just written something that is obviously very personal and close to her heart?? what motivates you? i bet that you would never dream of saying anything of this kind to anyone's face… to write something so horrible to someone illustrates more about you and your insecurities than it does about stephanie… you're the one that needs help.

    stephanie- i for one would completely understand if you stopped comments altogether… i can't imagine how heart-breaking it must be to put up every day with this shit… yes i can understand the argument that you put yourself out their so, to a degree, you have to expect it… but jesus! some of these people are sick and deluded… never feel like you have to publish everything- i for one vote that anything not viewed by you (as it IS your blog) as constructive criticism be deleted… hate should not be given any type of 'airplay'.

  18. I agree, love handles. That was well put. A good arguement for a touchy subject.

  19. Thank you for sharing your story, Stepanie. I've had an MID break up with me because he needed to figure out if he really loved me. WTF? One year later, he tried to come back into my life, but it was too late for him. On the big "getting back together" night he had planned he approached me to chat. I simply said hello and good-bye, left him standing in front of the womens bathroom to go to the other guy, my guy… the one that really loved me. Not a good feeling…for him. I may not be perfect, but I do have a heart and he was by no means perfect. I guess we all live and learn.

  20. I am constantly in awe of how you can write what i feel and wish I could articulate. Thank you, Stephanie Klein.

  21. Love isn't about love handles or the lack thereof. It's about the person – inside, outside, and everywhere in between. "She knows the worst thing about me and it's okay," (Meet Joe Black). Accepting someone for who they are is the greatest gift.

  22. It's true, I'm a woman who prefer men with love handles because "it makes me fell safe". I'm lazy and even if I'm thin I not have a sculputered body. I will be in competion with a perfect body man.

  23. This is a bit irrelevant but I personaly am attracted to slightly chubby fellas- probably because I like them soft- that wear glasses, which adds some sort of sexy touch. I don't know why I'm attracted to these sorts of men, but I can tell you one thing; it has absolutely nothing to do with the way I feel about myself. Maybe I just want a friendly cuddly bear, and perhaps these chubby lads are friendly because they feel they can't physicaly attract women, who knows?
    The last ingredient to my perfect boy is… a sexy grin.

  24. I just finished a book that made me want to vomit–not in a "must look like Mary Kate Olsen" kind of way, but in a "I am truly sickened by this" kind of way. It's called "for women only" and I didn't realized when I bought it used from that it was written by a Christian writer (not that there's anything wrong with that) who references scriptures in the book (I do have a bit of an issue with this). Anyway, it basically underlies the sick double standard that applies to women when it comes to looks. It confirms that when HE starts a diet or HE goes to the gym and "invites" you it's because he wants YOU to shake your to pay more attention to your appearance (so that HE can be validated by being with a hot chick, basically). I'm getting the shakes just thinking about it. Definitely don't waste your $ on the book. Unfortunately, I think she's probably right. Where our thought paths diverge is the fact that she accepts this as the way God created man (gag me) and we women need to respect that. Makes me glad I haven't been to church for a long time. And makes me concerned for the day the author meets her maker. She won't be very happy…

  25. Haven't seen the Cosmo article, but I'm thinking the fact that women prefer men with love handles really means that women prefer men who are secure with themselves. I'm guessing that for a man, losing those lovehandles is probably a real bitch of a process, and those men with 6% body fat and who live at Crunch and are so proud of their lovehandle-less midsections seem to me to be either completely self-obsessed or totally insecure. I'd take Mr. Lovehandles over Mr. Narcissus any day.
    On a different note, it seems that Stephanie is censoring her comments even more now than ever. What's the point of posting comments at all when the only ones that make it to the site are the ones that say, "Oh, Stephanie, you're SUCH a great writer!" Personally, I think the controversial comments give as much insight into the writing (and the writer, perhaps) as any of the typical, "I know just what you mean" comments do. What exactly did "Wheatley" say that was so offensive, anyway? His/her post was apparently deleted before I got a chance to read it… Inviting comments on your posts but then censoring them because they're negative (albeit probably very very negative in the worst inexcusable kind of way) makes having a Comments section pointless, in my opinion.

  26. I agree with expat regarding censoring offensive comments. To paraphrase, nothing cleans shit like exposure to the cold, harsh light of reality. Let losers say what they will, at times there may be nuggets of truth worth hearing. A beautiful, obviously talented lady such as yourself should be able to roll with what doesn't make sense and absorb what does.

  27. How true it is Stephanie. You always know what to say and how to say it. It is all true. Imperfections are what makes us all uniquely beautiful, but we have be brainwashed to believe we must be perfect to be beautiful. With flaws come beauty. When we all grasp this, the better off we will be. Great post.

  28. I agree that posting comments for the purpose of inflicting pain is despicable. But it is weak, cowardly and seen as such by the majority of your readers. If any damage is to be done, it is accomplished at the time you read it. Censorship after the fact only prevents the decent majority from putting them in their place. With a book coming out, their will be many more cretins jealous of a woman with beauty, brains and stones. At least here, the ability to counter their venom is present. Love handles – Stephanie's gonna have to handle.

  29. Love handles love handles! I love this play on words, I really do.

    I am a bigger guy(not fat, but I am a little bigger and have shoulders like a linebacker and thighs that are thick from years of skiing and now riding), and I love when women are "squishy". I hate this waif thing-I don't care what people say, curves are wonderfull.

    Men should look like me-have a little here and there and be built for survivng hunting, and gathering. And women should have curves, period. I don't care what society says- you cannot hit a golf ball, you cannot swing an axe,you cannot effectively or comfortably ride a horse(or should I say, a throughbred),nor can you sit through a 2 plus hour long meeting if you have no ass. Period.

    Love handles love handles is the end of that, isn't it? Great job-thanks for that bit of wisdom, Steph!

  30. It's comforting to know that many of us think alike… but it doesn't really seem healthy. I'm jealous of those like "rg" who don't even interpret a comment about going to the gym through the lens of insecurity. I was hoping that I'd outgrow it at some point and be able to love myself (or even tolerate myself)… maybe in our 30s? After all, how can you really love someone else if you don't love yourself? A mate can't (and probably shouldn't) be a band-aid for a fragile self-esteem.

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