“Does This Make Me Look Fat?” On Honesty Within Relationships

My pre-frizz hair

I’ve been with my boyfriend Ryan for over 10 years now. A while back we were getting ready to leave the house with a family member, who was in the kitchen. I came out wearing an outfit that I had looked at in my dresser mirror. The mirror isn’t full-length, so I can mostly only see my upper half.

“Does this outfit make me have a muffin-top?” I asked Ryan.

“Kind of. Maybe try another shirt?” he recommended.

Our family member yanked her head around to look at me. I could tell she was waiting to see if I was angry. I wasn’t angry at all.

I explained that when I ask him for his opinion it’s because I’m concerned about not looking my best. I want his honest answer. If I can just change my shirt and look better, that’s what I want to do.

Her response was surprisingly understanding, given her initial shock. “I can see the benefit of that.”

It got me thinking about how honestly like that isn’t the norm within popular culture. In movies and books we are taught that men should never tell a woman that she looks less than incredible.

I never ask “Do I look fat” because that seems very negative. I suspect that when people ask that, they are in need of reassurance. However, I for one really appreciate honesty from my partner, even when it comes to my appearance. If I’m asking if something looks too tight, that is not the same thing as me suggesting I am too fat, or look terrible, or am unattractive. The truth is that no matter how small you are, there are clothes out there that would look too tight on you. You can be fit and still get a muffin top when wearing pants that are too tight with a slim fitting shirt.

If my partner can simply say yes, that isn’t the best outfit combination, and save me from looking bad in photos or just to other people, I appreciate that help. If he said “Yes, you look great!” every time, I would learn not to trust his opinion which would hurt my trust in him. I don’t want him to lie to me, even about something as small as my clothing. This is true with my friends, too. If I’m trying on clothes in front of a friend and she says everything looks great, I start to feel like nothing does!

Do you prefer honesty when asking questions like “How does this dress look on me?” or “is this sweater too boxy?” When your partner asks for your opinion do you give honest feedback or do you always say something complimentary?

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