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Big Questions: How Do I Stop Feeling Unattractive?

Welcome to Big Questions with Zach Miko, an advice column answering your questions about the things we’re not always comfortable talking about in public. Send your questions to Zach by clicking here. Don’t worry, you can send them anonymously if you’d like.

I am a woman in my 50’s and have always been “big”. I’ve done every diet imaginable with short term results, and have decided to stop obsessing about weight and food. Clothes for older women, despite the plus size/curve revolution are made for young women. Clothes for my age look like my grandma’s sofa or a tent. How do I stop feeling like an unattractive failure and just live and enjoy my life?


Exhausted and Disappointed

Dear Exhausted and Disappointed,

What you’ve said here rings true for so many people. You grew up in the height of diet culture, but you were being conditioned into thinking you should lose weight from the moment you were born. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, people started realizing that they could make money by convincing the public that the only way to be of value was to “get slim quick.” Diet programs began appearing in newspapers along with products they could sell you to lose weight quicker. These included the “Chewing Diet,” in which you ate whatever you want but had to chew every bite until it turned into liquid in order to prevent overeating. This was sometimes paired with the “Tapeworm Diet” in which you would swallow a “sanitized” tapeworm and then eat whatever you want…staying thin thanks to the miracle of parasites.

The Diet Industry Needs You to Hate Yourself

Today, these diets seem crazy, but they aren’t any crazier than the products I tried in an effort to be attractive. For instance, the Hollywood 48-Hour Miracle Diet, in which I replaced my food 2 days a week with a 32 ounce bottle of an unidentifiable liquid. Or how about permanently wrecking my gut with handfuls of Hydroxycut, Dexatrim, or my personal favorite, the somehow FDA approved Alli in which your body was completely blocked from absorbing fat, which would all come out as orange oil slicks in 10-12 bouts of diarrhea per day.

Bottom line is, that over 100 years ago someone discovered there was a lot of money in making you feel bad about yourself. They tell you that you aren’t worthy of happiness unless you attain a certain type of “perfection,” but don’t worry, you can become perfect for a few easy payments of $19.95.

How much you weigh is your relationship with gravity, not what you are worth

We have been brainwashed our entire lives. We are fed innutritious, processed, unnatural foods and then told our weight and size is a clear indicator that we do not try hard enough to be a person, that it’s our fault, and then we spend our whole lives punishing ourselves for our audacity to exist.

Your clothing size is not who you are. Your weight is not who you are. How much you weigh is your relationship with gravity, not what you are worth. You need to relearn who you are. Tough part is that in the journey of self love we have to be both the teacher and the student. Every bad thought you have about yourself or your body should be dissected and analyzed. I’ll use myself as an example. I’ll have a thought like

“I hate my stomach so much.”


“cause it’s fat”

Is that a bad thing?



“cause that’s unattractive”


“because…that’s what I was told”

By who?

“the world…”

So there aren’t any fat people who are successful, or married, or in relationships?

“I mean there are… but…”

I know it’s exhausting, but you need to exhaust the excuses in the same way they exhausted your self esteem. The more you break down those negative thoughts, you’ll start to realize that there is nothing but bullshit behind it. Brainwashing has turned us all into our own worst enemies. No one is as harsh as we are to ourselves. The horrible things you say to yourself no one else is saying or thinking, and those horrible few that may are more messed up in their own heads than anyone. Assholes are always going to be assholes, don’t be one to yourself.

How Do You Just Enjoy Your Life?

How do you move forward and enjoy your life? The short answer is, you just do. Stop waiting to live. I hid myself away for many years, waiting until this or that diet took. I wouldn’t even take my shirt off in the pool until my body was “ready”. You are ready now. Ask yourself “why not?”. Can I wear this?, Why not?, Can I do this?, Why not? And if your reason why not is a lame excuse recognize it.

Be kind to yourself. We beat ourselves up our whole lives. It feels good to take your own foot off your neck. Choose yourself. And if someone gives you a compliment accept them and believe it. They aren’t just being nice, they mean it.

My mother is the same age as you, and she and I together did every diet there is. I think my mom is one of the most beautiful women in the world, but if you tell her that she will shrug it off and deflect.  I have an old glamour shot from Sears that she took with my Dad before I was born. She hates it, but it’s my favorite picture of her ever. It’s so much fun, and she looks so great. I hope one day she can look at that picture and see the beautiful fun-loving woman we all see, take a compliment and believe us.

Where Should You Shop for Clothes You’ll Like?

Finding clothes you feel good in isn’t always easy. Take a look at brands like Universal Standard, And Comfort, and Pari Passu for clothes that might be more of what you’re looking for. Don’t forget to take a look at places you already know about, like Lane Bryant, Woman Within, and Talbots. Even though you might not like everything they sell, you never know what you’ll find.

It’s an every day thing to treat yourself with love. But it’s worth it. Be gentle. You are beautiful