Love FAQ

Beauty Isn?t Just Pixel-Deep


LoveFAQ is a weekly advice column for geeks, by geeks about love, life and maxing out your romance meter. Got questions for LoveFAQs? Send them to [email protected].

Dear Love FAQ,

I’m a man with an eating disorder: Specifically, I’m six foot three and 104 lbs. My girlfriend of four years is pressuring me to gain weight. The catch is, I am literally terrified of the thought. Pushover that I am, I’ve always been willing to do anything for her. But how do I deal with this?

Thanks for your time,
Red Warrior Needs Food Badly

Dear Red Warrior,

Eating disorders aren’t about the number on the scale or the food on your plate. They’re about fear, control, and distorted self-perceptions. You point out that you’re technically underweight, but it bears noting that plenty of people with eating disorders are of average or even above average size. It’s not what you weigh that matters – it’s what you see (or don’t see) when you look in the mirror.

The myth persists that eating disorders are diseases only for celebutants and teenage girls, but the truth is, these illnesses can strike people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. That you’re willing to admit to one – especially as a man, given the stigma – means that you’re already much further along toward your recovery than you might suspect.

Admitting it really is the hardest part.

Your first order of business should be to book an appointment with your GP. You can even ask your girlfriend to accompany you, or other friends or family members, should you need the support.

Tell your doctor that you have an eating disorder, and be prepared to describe your symptoms in detail; if it helps, make a list before you go. Your doctor should be able to diagnose any related conditions or contributing causes, and should be able to recommend locally-based treatment options that will work for you, be it therapy, nutritional counseling, in-patient treatment, or so on.

Keep in mind that many doctors still lack training or experience on how to properly diagnose and treat eating disorders — particularly for male patients — so don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek a second opinion. (This is also where having a third-party advocate in the room with you can help.)

You may want to specifically seek out doctors knowledgeable in eating disorders; for contacts, browse the Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center’s website, or the Something Fishy eating disorder treatment database. Also consider calling the National Eating Disorders Association’s 24-hour helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

One last thought: Try to remain patient with your girlfriend. By fixating on your weight, she likely isn’t trying to badger or control you; she just wants you to be healthy and happy, and maybe she doesn’t know the right way to express it. But if what she says makes you feel pressured or uncomfortable, you must tell her so.

And recognize that you can’t –won’t – get better just for her sake. If your treatment’s going to stick, you must want to get better for yourself, too.

Dear LoveFAQ,

I am a white male who is attracted to everything East Asian: East Asian food, East Asian culture… but worst of all, I am attracted to East Asian females. Unfortunately, they do not seem as interested in me. I have made numerous attempts to introduce myself to some of them before, but they are either very ethnocentric, or they simply walk away when I say anything to them.

Worst of all, I am NOT attracted to women of other ethnicities. It is not something I can help, almost like how gay guys say they can’t help that they don’t like women; I have tried to force involving myself with white women thinking that it will make me like them, but I never feel any real enjoyment from it. I have been like this for over half a decade, and I am worried I am destined to seek what I can never have for the rest of my life. Grant me your wisdom please!

Not An Otaku, Really

Dear Otaku,

Sexual preferences are normal. Everyone has them. And if that’s all that was going on here, then I’d say, who cares? More power to you for knowing what you like.

But that’s not what’s going on here.

The ladies aren’t avoiding you because they’re racist. They’re avoiding you because generally, women can sniff out a dude with a “thing for Asian women” (or black women, or Latinas, or whatever) from a mile away. Few people aspire to be wanted simply for their language or skin color.

Think of it this way: If the roles were reversed, and a woman was only interested in you because of the shape of your eyes or the food you ate… wouldn’t you be at least a little offended?

You’re idealizing, even fetishizing, “East Asian” culture – indeed, the fact that you can even call it “East Asian” with a straight face suggests an deeper ignorance of the underlying cultures. Despite their superficial similarities, the cultures of China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and so on are so vastly different that you can’t lump them into one broad label without a heaping dose of over-simplification and borderline racism to make the pill easier to swallow.

I mean, East Asia refers to *half of a continent*. It’s like saying you have a thing for “African” girls.

Yes, some women do dig being objectified, as do some men, and heck, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find one if you cast a wide enough net.

But in the meantime, ask yourself *why* you’re so attracted to “East Asian females”, as you call them. Is it a looks thing? Do you imagine them to be more submissive? More willing to focus on your needs instead of their own? The answer may help better inform what you’re looking for – and perhaps reveal a few things about yourself, too.

PS: Sorry, dude. Unless you can show me a PET scan indicating your brain is genetically hardwired to respond only to Harujuku girls, this isn’t even anywhere close to being gay.

Dear LoveFAQs,

Is it okay for one member of a relationship to ask for the other to change their appearance?

ISO A Replacement Goldfish

Dear Goldfish,

You can *ask* anything you like.

Doesn’t mean the other person’s obligated to *do* anything about it.

Disclaimer: LoveFAQ is written by Lara Crigger, who is by no means a trained psychiatrist or therapist or even a middle school guidance counselor – just a smart gal who wants to help out her fellow geek. LoveFAQ is meant for entertainment purposes only, so don’t take it as a substitute for professional advice. If you have real problems, consult your physician.

Got a burning question (or a question about burning) for LoveFAQ? Send your emails to [email protected]. All submissions are confidential and anonymous.

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